Drone music is not easy to define. It is certainly not a specific form of art and does not reference any specific traditions. One cannot say it has a specific style either. Drones have played a role in vastly different cultures and different genres use them for their individual purposes. Nowadays, they are found in improvised and minimal music, in new music, jazz and ambient, in noise, dark jazz, post rock and drone metal.
Drones can be deep, long and droning yet also high, whispered and clear. They are sounds that swell into seemingly infinite expansions, seem outer-worldly and floating and induce physical reactions. They are sounds that seem to emanate from the depths of the earth and can be more felt that heard. They have something natural and organic.
Musicians from many music traditions, including some ancient ones, have dedicated their whole lives to playing drones, specialising in instruments like the Duduk, Tanpura, harmonium, bagpipe. From a technical standpoint, electronic drones are relatively easy to produce these days.
In this regard they are “decidedly democratic and egalitarian”, says Rainer Kern, Director of the Enjoy Jazz Festival. Quite similar to a computer game and “they could be produced fairly easily by non-musicians by stringing together a selection of ready made fragments”. This will be Enjoy Jazz’s starting point for the evening: listeners are invited to become doers. Please see nomelodyarchive.com for an announcement describing the details and conditions for participation.
In the “Bordun in Motion” project last year, cellist Anja Lechner and bassist Björn Meyer demonstrated the disturbingly ecstatic moments that can evolve from drones. Tonight, Italian drummer Michele Rabbia, who has played with musicians like Stefano Battaglia, Eivind Aarset and Emile Parisien, will join them. So three exceptional instrumentalists will use selections of the submitted drones and play with them live on stage.
It should be a fascinating experiment as the music will continually evolve, depending on which sounds the three musicians choose to integrate into their joint creations and improvisations.