Some questions about drones were asked over at the Muffwiggler synth forum, and my answers reflected my view of music in general enough that I thought it a good opportunity to revive this blog by posting them here:

What is a good drone?

I’ve been thinking about this question since last night, and can’t come up with a straightforward answer. Drone is just one way to approach music, and the difficulty in answering what makes a good drone is the same that occurs when asking what makes a good song.

I think good music conveys, honestly and proficiently, the general ideas its built upon. To then describe what that means specifically, I always come up against an elusive I-know-it-when-I-hear-it quality because how those things are defined specifically depends on the circumstances that led to the result. But when creating music, ask yourself what you wish to accomplish, do what you can, and then ask yourself if you’ve accomplished it. There’s two sides to consider when asking that last question: honesty and proficiency. Sometimes your abilities keep you from reaching your goal, and sometimes it’s your sincerity. When it’s the first, the answer is practice, learn to become more skilled, keep trying and understand that these things take time and effort. The second is existential, and requires reflection.

How long is a good drone?

As long as it needs to be, or as long as you wish it to be.

Does the beginning have to be different of the middle and the ending?

I don’t believe there is only one way to approach it. Stasis can be a remarkably effective characteristic in music, but it can also result in boring shit. If your goal is to start from a point and move to another, then do that. Be aware of a listener’s interest and disinterest (even if that listener is just you), figure out how you wish to work between the two states.

Which modules are the most common in your process?

I’m less a fan of synth drones than I am of drones made from other sources. I’ve loved some synth-based drone music, but I’ve heard a lot that is lazy, bland, ham-fisted. Synths drone easily. I’m not overly interested in music that could generally be described as “I just turned this shit on and hit record, call me a superstar, mama.” Some people really dig that sort of thing, or at least some people seem to really dig making that sort of thing, but I’m not one of them. So don’t think of drones in terms of modules, think of it in terms of music and sound. Your understanding of how the modules help you realize your musical intent will dictate what modules to use. Never has the quality of music depended on which LFO you use.

What is your secret to make your drone?

Patience, listening, and a sense of timing.


As is my habit for the past few years, I’m posting some SIGHUP music to ring in the new year. This time around, something new and something old.

First, the old:

Download: SIGHUP – longplayer

Around six years ago, a group of people got together to create a benefit record for Stillstream radio. Each track was intended as longform ambient, and altogether the compilation comprised close to a full day’s worth of music. It was sold as a DVD on Darrell Burgan’s now-defunct Blue Water Records, which had exclusive distribution of the music for a five-year tenure, and all proceeds went to keep Stillstream on the air. I doubt it sold many copies, a day’s worth of music being a lot to take on as a listener. So here is my seldom heard contribution, longplayer. I was on a feedback kick at the time, this is mostly processed bits of the like. It has its moments. In form, it shares traits with the Kenji Siratori collaboration track I did around the same time, SIGHUP in Seminary Boy Sonata.

And on to the new: (track taken down to make room for new stuff)

 

As of time of writing, the lone SIGHUP release in 2011, City Passage, is 14 downloads shy of 8,000. Go get it if you haven’t yet, push it over that mark if you are so inclined. Happy new year.


My once and former self, Esau Radio Studio, is officially no more.

Apparently, I let the esauradiostudio.com domain expire on September 19th, ten years after registering it. I don’t actually remember receiving a renewal notice prior to expiry, but ultimately it’s for the best and I’m not especially eager to spend on my vanity more than I do already. Esau Radio Studio was the project name I used for slightly more melodic, occasionally beat-oriented music, which I haven’t really used since 2004, but have kept alive just in case I ever wanted to use the name again.

At the time of the project, I was obsessed with synth music and modular synthesis, especially synth music absent of drum machines when electronic percussion sounds were all programmed, like late-70s stuff by Human League, OMD, and Cluster, and other things like the first two Skinny Puppy records, David Kristian’s modular synth records and the stuff Suction Records was putting out in the early 2000s. I didn’t have a hardware modular synth then, so all sounds were programmed from scratch using only the Vaz Modular software.

The output under the name is by no means great, much of it was a learning effort in developing a personal style, but it has retained some charm. I’ll keep it available here, but I can do without paying the annual $25 to keep the domain name alive for no good reason.


Copyright © Steven Hamann. All rights reserved.