What moves the drone?

Started by animapara, November 27, 2021, 11:33:51 AM

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Hello there :)



Please, just listen to these two examples ... (both are exerpts from M. Grassow tracks, all rights and respect to him)

As i notice first example (Sound 1) is just a "static" drone. It stands and not moving ... it just like "free flying"

But second example (Sound 2) is drone that moves in some direction, some power drag it "forward" constantly.

Is it because detuning unison voices in synth, detuning layers and adding amplitude modulation (AM)?
(i don't think that it's because of effects like delay or reverb).

Am i missing something to get that movement? 

Any help would be appreciated so much.

Thank you.


Hi animapara,

I think the key to 'drones' is playing around with your sounds and experimenting - as well as listening to many different artists music to get a sense of what they do.

A slight shift in one parameter can affect the whole drone.

I tended to use different sounds that shifted in and through each other - or slightly different treatments of the same sound. for example, if you have 2 or three of those running at the same time you can vary the volume in each.

Oophoi was very good at both the still and the moving.

Julio Di Benedetto

Personally I did not hear a lot of movement in the 2 examples though I did enjoy listening to both of them. Creating motion from front to back is tricky which the 2 examples did show this to some degree. What Grassow Album(s) are the 2 tracks from?

What I am describing is from a mixing perspective, not programming a synth.

There seemed to be no automated panning of sounds in the tracks which is moving a sound across a horizontal axis, left to right and vice versa.  This can be subtle of exaggerated. 

Front to back motion is about understanding space by imagining, as I do, a stage as though a concert was being performed.....where do you place the instruments?  For front to back motion it is about reverb / delay and also doubling of tracks.  For example slightly pan a sound left in your Daw, with no reverb or very little, create a second track of the same sound and pan the sound hard to the right and add a judicious amount of reverb.  Listen to the two sounds together and a long delayed tail is create but not from the first source.  Adjust volume levels by creating and ADSR envelope using volume automation in your Daw as Seren suggested.   Experiment!  Listen!

I feel it is more useful to animate the mix and the way sounds are placed in the mix then laboring at a synth with various types of modulation.  The sounds you create should be interesting to you, should inspire you as you build your drones but the real surprises occur when 2 different tracks come together and create a third. This in itself creates motion.   
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley



Quote from: Seren on November 28, 2021, 10:00:05 AM
A slight shift in one parameter can affect the whole drone.

Yes, i noticed that ... any slight voice detuning, any pitch shift can create a whole new sounding drone. So, you can do like 100 drones from 1 preset, just slight changing synth knobs.


Quote from: Julio Di Benedetto on November 29, 2021, 04:41:28 AM
What Grassow Album(s) are the 2 tracks from?

First (Sound 1) is a track "Bliss" taken from "Bliss" album. Second example (Sound 2) is a track "Coincidentia Oppositorum" from "Dagaz" album.


Quote from: stargazer on November 29, 2021, 09:48:31 AM
You just asked how the universe came into being.

^^ This.

This, beacause i think that movement inside drone sound is the primal part of droning to me.

No movement = no drone, no illusion, just boring and static.

Julio Di Benedetto

Quote from: stargazer on November 29, 2021, 09:48:31 AM
I think who creates a drone that lives and breathes (however they conjure it up) is close to building the universe.

Jana your answer to the question is beautiful and so true and much more important than technical wizardry.....I just quote the last sentence.
"Life is one big road, with lots of signs, so when you ride to the Roots, do not complicate your mind, ... "  Bob Marley



Today i've noticed that the most crucial part of drone is lower layer acted as "bass" layer.

It MUST be modulated ... I got decent results using simple chorus with LP filter. Chorus adds
gaps in sound, so bass layer starts to sound more texturized and not so "straightforward".
It sounds more pulsating ... it adds "rhythm" to your drone flow.

Even if your upper drone layers don't have any modulation and sound pretty "static",
modulation of just lower layer creates the impression that whole drone gets movement.


Continuing this topic about movement in drones ...

I noticed one thing ... at the very bottom of the drone, in its tonic, seems like jerky movements ... seem to be like tremolo or something. And it's also, create that "magic movement" illusion. Look at this example link: (it's again, short excerpt from M. Grassow track)


Most low frequency of this drone sounds like  U_U_U___pause___U__U_U___pause and so on

This lowest part of the drone has a gaps or something. If you know how to do this, please, what's the best way to make this? I don't think that this is just notes programmed in sequencer, i think that initially this is seamless note, but gaps created by tremolo (?) or maybe i'm wrong ... And these gaps have some rhythm. It's rhythmic in some kind ...

Scott M2

animapara - I had a piece on an Umbra compilation once upon a time. https://www.discogs.com/release/1550577-Various-Foglands
All excellent music but Matthias' "Deeper Purity" track was the very simplest - but had the deepest impact on me.
I learned that mastering simplicity in drones has powerful potentials - though I usually ignore that knowledge and layer my drones too high and too wide.  :D 
Matthias Grassow is clearly a master.

I just searched and found a whole album of "Deeper Purity"!  https://mathiasgrassow.bandcamp.com/album/2007-deeper-purity
I will have to give it a good listen when I have the right slice of time.
Ironically, I am spending my free time now preparing sound + vision for this year's Drone Day.

PS - Jaja will have new music for that show too... so there's a good reason to try and tune in.  :)