Drone is a genre of music that originated in the 1960s and is characterized by long, sustained tones or sounds that create a hypnotic and meditative atmosphere. It is often associated with minimalism and experimental music, drawing inspiration from various cultural and musical traditions.
The origins of drone can be traced back to the works of La Monte Young, an American composer known for his exploration of sustained sounds. Young's composition "The Well-Tuned Piano" (1964) is considered one of the earliest examples of drone music. He used just intonation tuning systems to create a continuous stream of harmonies that would resonate throughout the performance.
Key characteristics of drone music include the use of sustained tones or chords, repetition, and gradual changes over time. Drones are often created using electronic instruments like synthesizers or through acoustic instruments such as strings or brass instruments. The focus on long durations and subtle variations gives drone its distinctive immersive quality.
Over time, drone has evolved and incorporated elements from various genres such as ambient, post-rock, and even heavy metal. Artists like Brian Eno have been influential in expanding the boundaries of drone with albums like "Discreet Music" (1975), which featured tape loops creating layered drones.
One significant artist associated with drone music is Sunn O))), an American band formed in 1998. They have pushed the boundaries of heavy metal by incorporating elements from ambient and experimental music into their compositions. Their album "Monoliths & Dimensions" (2009) received critical acclaim for its dense layers of guitars and atmospheric soundscapes.
Another notable figure in the genre is Tim Hecker, a Canadian musician known for his abstract electronic compositions. His album "Ravedeath, 1972" (2011) combines dense drones with distorted textures to create an otherworldly sonic experience.
Drone has had a significant impact on the global music scene by influencing various genres and artists.