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Sound Matters With John Du Four PART 7 I could drone on and on and on... In my last column I touched briefly on how using a drone can be a great accompaniment to your Songspinning. I should admit it up front that I’m a big fan of drones (to be precise, I’m speaking of musical drones – not those unmanned [er, unpersonned???] flying things that invade our skies. A musical drone is the harmonic or monophonic effect where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece of music. It is a simple yet mystical sound often described as a doorway through which both player and listener can enter higher planes of consciousness. I’ve wanted to write about drones since I began this series because they work on a number of fascinating levels. Found all over the world This goes some way to explaining why I‘ve collected a number of drone instruments over the years, including: from Australia the didgeridoo; from India the tamboura and shruti box; from the Andes an Indian drone flute; a concert gong from an NZ orchestra; from Tibet various singing bowls, bells and tingshas; various drums and rattles which can be played repetitively to create a powerful droning effect; a Chinese violin called an erhu; my Korg keyboard, and more... Such a wide range exemplifies how readily drone music is found, especially in traditional and folk music, the world over. And let us never forget bagpipes – some might say, rather disparagingly, who could? – but you can’t deny their strident mesmerizing power. I’ve never played them but would love to have a go. So basically, drone music is as historically old as our species itself. But what are its effects? How does it work? First of all, just a wee bit of science (believe me, it’s all I’m capable of!). In essence, the drone provides an unvaried note of music. Its pitch (ie. how high or low it is) is consistent – it emits a steady frequency. Remember, all sound is vibration, and the speed of that vibration is called frequency. 82

Issue #7 | The Inspired Guide | January 1st 2020

Music, as opposed to random noise, is created when the frequency waveform is strongly regular. Frequency is measured in the number of wave cycles occurring in a single second – one unit of frequency per second equals one Hertz (Hz). Human ears can only hear sounds within a certain range of frequencies. The young usually detect sounds between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz – a range which sadly reduces as we age. Now for the drone-averse amongst us, the sound of an unchanged drawn out tone is like listening to paint dry – the sound of tedium itself. But for many, a drone can be a beautiful thing, offering up a transcendent, hypnotic quality than can range from the meditative to the downright (or should that be upright?) spiritual. Winsome Evans, an Australian early music specialist who’s been awarded the British Empire Medal and the Order of Australia for services to music, links medieval European music and drones to the theology experiences of the period. “Number symbolism was important in the medieval world and the drone is the One, it’s the Godhead.” She explains that a drone based on the root note of a chord was clearly understood for its power. “It’s what rules the whole piece of music, and it’s from the One that the melody evolves,” she says. “These things have almost magical significance, and they form an important part of Christian mysticism.” Our earliest imprint Things are even more fundamental than that, according to Marcus Boon, a writer and professor of English at York University in Toronto. He believes there’s a definitive reason drones affect us at the deepest possible level. “They say that when you’re in the womb, there’s supposedly a drone-like hum, so you could say the drone is a ‘pre-birth’ sound,” he says. “I think there is a sacred element to drone music that has to do with the natural harmonics and the fact that when you produce a drone in a particular way, there’s a transcendental feeling that gives rise to a feeling of awe or euphoria. You relax into this drone-like structure and there’s a kind of loosening of the self that is pleasing, ecstatic even.”

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The Inspired Guide - Issue #7  

Read Issue #7 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

The Inspired Guide - Issue #7  

Read Issue #7 of The Inspired Guide - FREE Conscious Living and Holistic Wellbeing eMagazine! Filled with inspiring and informative article...

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