Drones are not just a type of flying machine; they are also an integral part of music theory. Drone music theory is a technique that involves the use of a sustained or continuous sound, also known as a “drone,” as the harmonic foundation for musical pieces.

What is a drone in music?
A drone is a sustained sound or note that serves as the foundation for a piece of music. Drones can be created using various instruments, such as bagpipes, harmoniums, hurdy-gurdies, and even electronic synthesizers. The sound produced by the drone remains constant throughout the performance.

History of drone music theory
The origins of drone music theory can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as India and Scotland. In Indian classical music, drones are called “tanpura” and serve as the harmonic foundation for the entire piece. On the other hand, Scottish bagpipes use drones to create a continuous background sound while playing melodies on other pipes.

The modern use of drones in Western music can be attributed to composers like La Monte Young, who incorporated them into his minimalist compositions during the 1960s.

How is drone used in music?
Drones are typically used in two ways: as static or moving harmonies. In static harmony, the drone remains unchanged throughout the piece and serves as an anchor for other musical elements to build around it. In moving harmony, changes occur within the drone’s structure to create different tonalities and moods.

Drones can also be used to create modal scales, which are scales that do not follow traditional Western tonality structures. For example, Indian ragas often use drones to create unique modes that differ from Western major and minor scales.

The significance of drones in modern music
Drone music theory has become increasingly popular in recent years with artists like Brian Eno and Sunn O))) incorporating it into their compositions. The use of drones in modern music has allowed for experimentation with different tonalities and moods that were previously impossible to achieve.

Furthermore, drones have become a staple in electronic music, where they are often used as a foundation for ambient and experimental compositions.

Drone music theory is a technique that has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world. Its significance in modern music cannot be understated, as it allows for experimentation with unique tonalities and moods. The use of drones continues to evolve, and we can expect to hear more innovative uses of them in the future.