How to DrO)))ne



How to DrO)))ne

Postby mc_muench » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:46 am

Been wanting to start a drone/super slow riffin DOOM band lately, I'm not a huge fan of just listening to drone but the whole FEEL MY MUSIC experience, as well as the meditative side of drone is what is drawing me to this idea. From the few drone bands, mostly local, Ive seen, I have deduced that there is a fine line between really well done drone and just really boring slow playing and feedback. And as of right now, I'm having trouble with that line, so I figure why not make a thread in which we could make a guide to DrO)))ne, not just for me but anyone interested in this very extreme form of music. I realize a lot of it has to do with just experimentation and playing and playing, but I'm wondering if anyone has any tips or advice for that Turn Up, Riff Slow lifestyle.



The one thing I know, you need a rig that vibrates people eye sockets and helps them digest food, I'm well on my way to that. I saw one band use just a couple run of the mill practice combos and frankly this band was on the wrong side of the line, not just because of their combos. And sure a PA can get you to those CAN YOU FEEL ME NOW? levels but I believe the visual aspect is an large part of this genre, a wall just looks cool.

And speaking of the visual aspects...hooded robs, dark stage lights with bright ass flood lights, videos in the background, fog, candles, props, what else to add to the optical experience?

Effects? Do you use a bunch of different dirts/fuzzes for different flavors or just one running through everything. I've always been pretty much just a dirt/fuzz user and so what are some other effects that can be used? Like delay, modulation, octaves, tremolo, phaser, loopers, etc...not specifically what pedals to get, more how to use them to create that perfect wave of sonic DOOM.

DAT FEEDBACK. How do you make it your bitvh and control it to create those ringing overtones and crushing subtones. I'm starting to get a hang of it a little bit in my practice space, but what happens when I eventually leave my safe private practice room for a stage, wont all those magic sweet spots be completely different from what I've grown to know.



Now the riffs, this is probably the biggest problem for me right now...

As I get deeper and deeper into DOOM and drone I've learned it takes a certain patience to play this type of music. You have to let each note breath and change/build over its duration. Dont rush to the next note, it will get there, you have to give it its time. My patience for this is getting there but I'm still no fisherman.

Ideally Id like to have a drummer, maybe even classical string instruments, brass instruments, synths or even a didgeridoo...throat singing would be awesome as well. I think that would make things easier for me as I have someone else keeping a tempo/groove besides just me. It would be very difficult for me to be a solo man in this project or any project for that matter, my creativity is at its peak when I'm feeding off someone else. Im not the greatest songwriter, but I am improving.

What to write? Just playing open notes over and over can only do it for so long. Any scales that are most evil/DOOM? How about some crazy dissonant chords? How do you write a 10+ min song played really slow without making it boring? I bore my self some times. And then how do you make a couple of them without them all sounding the same? Any other theory that can help with the DOOM/drone riff writing process? Especially those trance inducing riffs that put you in a meditative state that I find really good drone bands are capable of doing.

And even on top of the riffs what about vocals? I dont even know where to start with that, not a great lyric writer either, so instrumental is fine by me.




Lastly how about some good examples of well done, super slow, DOOM/Drone, hers some that I love...Salems Pot, Sleep (dopesmoker), OM, Sunn O))), Bongripper, Stanosaur, DANKHDJINN, Earth, Pontiak, YOB, Conan, Sunswitch.

Super lastly, how do you feel about the name tidal?

Sorry for the essay, I just cant sleep... :!!!:
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Iommic Pope » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:07 am

Personally, I cannot fucking stand drone, for the most part, bit lately the prospect of doing something with my brother, who is into soundscapes and noisemaking has opened my mind a bit to, as you say, the feel and meditation side of that sort of music. I probably wouldn't go balls to the wall for it, bit it would definitely be handy to be able to incorporate elements without sounding hackneyed or out of place.
Nice idea man, I'm gonna lurk the shit outta this thread....
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Derelict78 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:19 am

I have not ever been in a drone band but I drone for myself all the time. For me the key has always been letting the sustain of a chord or note change. The great destroyer is great for this, I can hit a note, let it ring out than tweek my volume and tone knobs for the weird Osc. trails. I also like using exp control to change up sounds.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby kbit » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am

^ that's awesome.

Tidal is a cool name.
Try looping things out of time with the main motif.
Listen to Jodis.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby conventional_dogma » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:09 am

I've noticed a lot of the local drone acts here in Houston use 2+ dirt boxes.
At one show this dude had 5 different noise pedals and I snickered to myself at his MT-2. Surprisingly it did not sound too bad in conjunction with everything else he was using.
It was a humbling yet enjoyable ear-piercing experience.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby skullservant » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:25 am

I second the 'listen to Jodis', it'll definitely open up a new perspective for you in an alternative format of droning which I definitely really really enjoy.

Also, here is my perspective on things. As far as visuals go, I'm not too concerned with robes or guises or costumes or anything, I think the most 'experience' comes from the fog that Sunn uses to completely fill the room to the point that you can't see the person standing right in front of you. I think the most memerable part of seeing Sunn was Having the music not necessarily LOUD (I didn't wear earplugs and was totally fine) but pushing so much air it's literally rattling your chest, mixed with the clasutrophobic fog. THAT is what I remember the most. I was quite surprised at the tiny venue that they played that I didn't end up having to wear earplugs, but the force of their playing and having everything in the correct speaker phase was the most I've ever felt at a show. So it's a balance between FEELING it, and HEARING it. On the extreme other end of the spectrum, Jucifer at the same club, with all of those amps and cabs was THE most painful show I've ever been to. I forgot earplugs that night and was up front and regretted it for about half a week afterwords.

Personally, I react more to feeling it. It makes the music have a 3rd dimension that I think is really important to the genre.

As far as effects go, I would definitely suggest some sort of Muff, with an octave fuzz in front of it. The Muff will have the low end and sustain, and the octave fuzz will bring out that almost brass horn sound that gives that slight buzz-saw edge that makes the chords and notes that much more potent. I'd also suggest some sort of compressor at the front of the chain, probably an optical one that wouldn't color the tone much but would definitely add sustain and a little bit more cut to the mix.

If you're playing guitar by yourself for the act, I would definitely suggest a biamp setup, one for the highs and one for the lows, so that the sound is more full. The most memerable solo drone artist that I saw played a noisefest last year- he was using a 4x12 and a 2x15 I believe, with a Sunn Beta _____ and an Acoustic _____ head. It was loud on the stage, but then also put through the PA came into full realization. I think what was most memerable was that he was using a delay at the front of his chain, and that delay was awesome in that depending on how spaced out his playing was it would start to go into self oscillation or not, just kind of had a wash over everything, like a haze that was just killer.

Personally, I add a looper into the mix, so that I can have multiple riffs going on at the same time to build on top of. That's really important to me, the building and constructing of the pieces into something intricate. It also makes things that much fuller sounding if you've got layers and layers of stuff going on. Definitely experiment with fuzzes while looping though, some aren't going to sound great when stacked multiple times on each other.

As far as riffs go, I just let it come to me. The drone tracks that stand out to me the most are riffs that don't disappear, but transform themselves throughout the piece from point A slowly to point B over the duration of the track, and then finish off strong by reincorporating riff A back into the mix for a closing.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Bassboar » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:46 am

As far as sound goes:
Dirt, you want the gainiest, low endinest fuzz you can get.
Loud amps and big cabs, sub bass out the arse.
One bit that people tend to forget is delay/verb.
The pedal you want is the EQD Dispatch Master, exactly the sound.
That way, you get the added sustain and fullness of verb and delay.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby ridingeternity » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:24 am

First and only step to good drone: Feel it.

If you don't feel it, nobody will.

An added bonus is not overthinking it. Just use what you have currently, both skills and gear, then make it sound good and build from there.

There is no formula other then play your guitar regularly and build upon your rig as needed, an added but not necessarily mandatory bonus is smoking a ton of herb until you couldn't even take another puff if you tried, crank that amp and just start riffin'.

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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby D.o.S. » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:07 pm

Just play your slowed down Sabbath rehash even slower.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Ancient Astronaught » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:21 pm

Ahhhhh this is a topic that is dear to my heart. :hello: :hug:

So lets tackle your questions... (this is all written in my opinion and experience, this is in noway a rulebook to drone just some tips and tricks i've learned to creating drones I personally like to go back and listen to)

Rig - For this there's a couple things I think are fairly important. First and foremost in my opinion a really wide frequency range is vitally important. This applies to both the head / amp your using and to your cabs / speakers. While your guitars lowest note's frequency might only be in the lower 100's of Hz once you start applying certain effects (which I'll discuss later) there will be frequencies lower and higher then your guitar that will be created and having that extended frequency range allows them to cut through clearly while being able to layer your normal guitar stuff on top. Second, yes volume is important but not vital. Like Skully said pushing air is more important for that ominous wall of sound tone. This is why Sunn uses 3 heads each with max output of 150w each instead of 3 300w amps, you'll never be able to turn up those 300w heads to max without causing physical damage to yourself. So less is more in that department, but in speakers its basically the more the merrier but theres no need to be jucifer, that is completely unnecessary. a 4x12 actually pushes more air then a 2x15 (think surface area for comparison) but they can't produce the low end a 15" does so I find balancing your combinations of 12's and 15's important, I use a 2 to 1 philosophy (2 12's to 1 15).

Visual Aspect - this highly depends on the vision and desired end result of the band. One thing I've learned in the past two years playing alot of big shows in a "pop" style band, unfortunately your visual appeal plays a large role in keeping the attention of your audience during a live performance. Watching a drone show with a couple dudes standing up on stage in jeans and band shirts under the same exact lighting the entire time, no matter how good the music, is unfortunately not very entertaining. Drone doesn't have the energy and feel that allows you to go nuts on stage which alot of metal bands do to keep audience attention so unfortunately you have to look at adding on visual aspects. Sunn does this with the robes and fog and everything else but what they are really doing is not just creating music but creating an atmosphere live, the music envokes the feeling of a satanic ritual at night in a fog filled forest so they bring that visual to you. The music matches the atmosphere and you feel as if its more then just a band on stage, its as if your a part of a movie, of something bigger and thats what has made them so successful. So you have to figure out what kind of atmosphere you want to create with your drone music and bring that vibe to the stage through visual elements. My future drone project will involve a large amount of visual elements but will mainly focus on mood lighting and videos, while the musicians play in all black. I want the focus to be on the videos which the music will basically soundtrack too, I want to create the tension and joy and fear through the music and through your perception, and focus less on the individuals creating it.

Effects - Oh boy time to get into the fun zone. Here is what in my opinion os the essentials or bare minimums... Overdrive, Boost, Fuzz, Looper, Volume pedal, Delay, and Reverb. I'll break it down in to sections to explain.
Dirt - Having numerous textures of dirt is essential to creating different moods. Sometimes just a light overdrive on dissonant chords can strike a more emotional chord (pun intended :animal: ) then the same exact chord under stacked fuzzes. As it can give a dry and gritty feel which sadness can often feel like and it seems more lonely and distraught. While fuzz summons more emotions of anger and ominous oppression or sometimes pain and panic. While these emotions are very often the core of a doom drone having nothing but those emotions going for an hour can get exhausting in a bad way. Boosts, well this is the fun part say you have this huge ominous tone going with your fuzz and you need to push it up a notch in intensity and volume, a boost is your best friend, it can feel like a jolt, a shot in the back, a swift kick in the ass, while still retaining that anger inducing tone. Another thing to think about is having dirt pedals with footswitchable tones so you can flip back and forth between tones without tap dancing like an irish riverdancer, for instance I use my skyhammer to go from gritty overdrive to full on melt down with the kick of one switch and my big spider for a really scooped tone thats easy to loop and play over and then kick in the mid boost for the riff or line I want to really stick out.
Volume Pedal - This is necessary to control feedback, do swells, mute your instrument while switching dirt tones and a thousand other uses. GET ONE, LOVE ONE.
Delay - Here is the main staple of a a true drone, this allows you to make swirling feelings, nauseousness, flight, stuttering falls and so many other feelings. It can produce a cloud for your guitar to sit on, or the blood covering your eyes from a badger attack melting your consciousness away into oblivion. My view is there is no one type of delay that fits everything, an hour drone with the same delay constant would get boring and blend together too much. This is why i find digital multi-delays like the timeline of timefactor to be vital. I have one pedal that can have up to 200 different delays at my feet. Some riffs you come up with will sound amazing with a wobbly tape delay on the verge of oscillation while others will thrive with the pulse of an audible digital delay to make you feel as if your rocking back and forth. The more delays the more unique tones and vibes you can create.
Verb - Here is another vital and important aspect to the drone. This is the basis of your overall atmosphere, this is what cements the audible visualization of the story your telling. Like the delay the more the better here. I have found the Space to be the ultimate verb for drone as i can summon a multitude of different tones and switch them around in insane way that can invoke the feeling of teleportation, floating in space, or even as if surrounded by a chorus of disembodied demons harmonizing with your wicked howling. I mainly use the gravity verb, space verb, and shimmer verb for creating my tones. And this is where that wider frequency response amp then your guitar can create comes into play. With a shimmer I can go from +2 to -2 octaves on anything I'm playing, so now your have frequencies your guitar normally does not create. If your amp can't handle the lowest of the the lows or the highest of the highs then the verb just blends into your signal as mud and struggles for sonic ground to stand on.
Looper - Probably the single most important part of any drone setup. Without this creating the feeling of more then one person is on stage playing the same things is near impossible. We all ready have a thread explaining a loopers use and necessity so I'll keep this one short.

Dat feedback - I control all of mine via delay and verb and the combination there of. This allows me to create different flavors of feedback, not just cover your ears because its piercingly abrasive. With a delay on the verge of oscillation you can create near endless feedback and different delays can alter the overall tone of the feedback. For instance a tape delay has a more subdued and gentle feel to feedback, while a digital delay can have more high end and abrasiveness to it which could be what your going for. Then liberal use of stacked gain and your volume pedal to summon or banish the feedback your creating, allows for finer control.

Riffs - this one is hard to really nail down as everyones writing style is different, and every riff should be written in a different key or scale depending on the mood and soundscape your attempting to create. This would require a long write up on musical theory when in reality it should totally go off of your feel and style, plus your guitar setup (as riffs in drop tunings tend to play very differently then standard or alt tunings).

What to write - Hmmmm how to explain this.... I think the best place to start with drone is a concept. Your not doing drone to just create noise, otherwise your in it for the wrong reasons. Your in it to summon emotions that words cannot express, allowing your to communicate in a way that the human voice is near incapable of, but you still want to portray something perceivable to the listener. So my advice is to sit down and actually write out a story from your head, write out the story you want your song or your album to create audibly. It doesnt have to earn an A+ in Eng401 at Harvard, it really just needs to be an outline with differing settings, feelings, and most importantly dynamic. Then you add in small things like the perfect places for tension so you know to kick up the gain and dissonant chords there, and the places of calm so you know where to throw in your clean loops and maybe some sad melodies over them. Drone isn't exactly about writing songs IMO, its about visualizing them.



Tidal? I can dig it. :thumb:
Last edited by Ancient Astronaught on Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby kbit » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:59 pm

A+ post, sir. I can dig it.

Also backing Skully's suggestion of fuzz combinations, ToneMachine + BigMuff 4 Lyfe.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby fungalattack » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:24 pm

This thread kicks ass! That is some great advice skip.

Personally I have been feeling in a dry spell, a deep dark rut in terms of writing for my doom band. I'm struggling - everything seems forced. But that idea of writing a story and translating it into a song is super unique. I must try it. I can't keep bumbling around the same old patterns. My fingers need to stop drifting to the same spots. I gotta let the chords breath. Be more patient - it will come.

Take a feeling and let a song convey that feeling. Ideas/emotions before riffs.

This is just what I needed!! Droooone away the days.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Derelict78 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:12 pm

That was an awesome post skip. Another "trick" (and this goes for all music) for writing with a certain mood is to put on a movie you know well turn the sound off and play to it. I have had lots of success with early silent horror movies like nosforatu. Anything that sets a mood visually will work though. I'm a big fan of Stanley Kubrick and all of his movie definitely set unique moods.
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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby mc_muench » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:23 pm

All posts + <9000!!! Thanks for the tips everyone, this is all very helpful!!! I was hoping youd make a reply Skip!!!


I actually just bought two 412 PA towers today, so I think my rig is all set, 3x18s and 8x12s, will post pictures of the full rig in the showoff thread later tonight. Effect wise, I could really use a digital delay and a looper per your advice, DD5 and Ditto maybe? Got the volume, overdrive(Correct Sounds Eclipse), fuzz (Wumbo Muff/modded MT-2), analog delay (cc), and verb (love the spring verb in my Peavey PA200, but if I need more the Tone Americana has always peaked my interest, that can get some crazy big cavernous reverb), even got a Digitech synth that can do some really massive sounding octave stuff. That and I need a guitar, thinking an SG tuned to C, I dont want to go too low that I cant use that guitar for anything else, and If I want to go lower I would use a bass then


The write a story thing or play a movie might be worth experimenting with...I actually have a movie in mind, Duel, been wanting to write a heavy soundtrack to it for a while and this drone project could be perfect for that. Just something about that big old Peterbilt screams DOOM!



Now lets keep this thread going!!! Anyone have any other ideas/advice?



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Re: How to DrO)))ne

Postby Derelict78 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:34 pm

I'm totally getting high and droning out to Vampyr tonight.
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