Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Under Appreciated Drone

Moiroloï from Premeti - Nikos Kyrios, violin and Jonathan Lewis playing as the drone.

I am really into drones right now. Before I began Bellydancing I had never heard of a drone (in music). I had not heard of a lot of things, actually. A drone is
"...where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. The word drone is also used to refer to any part of a musical instrument that is just used to produce such an effect."

To me, as a dancer, a drone is a continuous vibrating sound wave that I don't just hear but feel in my body. Like a never-ending low hum. It is both a physical and an cerebral response. The use of a drone some how gives the  music a deeper texture, heat and weight that it otherwise would not have.

You can hear drones often in Arabic music, particularly at the beginning and throughout most taqsims. There are usually multiple players of the same instrument so one or more can be the drone while the others can play the melodies. For wind instruments, the drone often uses a technique called circular breathing. He both breathes in and blows out without breaking the flow of air to the instrument. This creates the non-stop sound produced. The same type of breathing is used to play a didgeridoo.

Sitting to the left behind the singer is the drone rebab player while the rebab player on the right echos the melody.

This video features an Arghul which has a built in drone - two tubes one of which is the drone. The cool thing about this arghul player is that he uses circular breathing

The next time you listen to your dance music see if you can pick out the drones and give a little love to them the next time you dance.


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