Dronescape 1 is the first in a series of albums, containing new, digitally created, compositions by Oscar van Dillen. The works on this album were composed June-July 2020.
All works and cover art of this album were created by Oscar van Dillen.
Release date for distribution is provisionally set after 18 August 2020.
Download the CD booklet HERE
The title Dronescape suggests the contraction of the terms Drone and Soundscape, inferring a music which might at first sight be mistaken for ambient only. But not at a hearing: there is mostly a friendly and pleasant surface character to most compositions, but careful listening will reveal less obvious details and sounds, sometimes surprising, at other times perhaps disturbing.
In music, a drone (or bourdon) is understood to be a continuous sound, interval or chord, usually an accompaniment to a modal structure (melodic music based on a particular scale). Special instruments exist, dedicated to playing the drone only, such as the tanpura and the swar peti from India. Instruments are found all over the world that include drones within the melodic instruments themselves, such as the taraf strings on many Asian string instruments, but also the drone pipes next to the chanter in bagpipes, or the hurdy gurdy, and its predecessor the organistrum with their drone strings. Aboriginal didgeridoo music can be considered to consist purely of a rhythmized drone. Traditionally, drones with their sustained pitches are used as a harmonic support to the melodic music performed. In the Dronescapes by van Dillen the music itself has become rhythmized drone and soundscape at the same time, foregoing the traditional compositional hierarchies of theme and accompaniment, by using the following musical elements, in order of prominence: 1. sound 2. harmony 3. rhythm 4. melody. This non-prominence of melody stresses the absence of a traditional theme and accompaniment-oriented music, instead the work moves towards a more inclusive approach. This does not mean there are no developing linear structures, but rather that in a way the album can perhaps be regarded as being semipermeable to outside additions, whether coincidental and random (such as happening when listening outdoor or with windows opened), or improvised, or composed, or even as a large minus one recording, open to be supplemented by the listener, whether in imagined or performed future additional music.
In the Dronescapes presented on this album, the concept of a drone is taken a step further to result in a lively evolving new music, spanning a very broad spectrum of sounds and styles, including world music, all evolving in a lively and wide stereo field. Each of the compositions is loosely set to a single tone, gradually spanning the full chromatic scale in the course of the 12 pieces. Starting on D with short and dreamlike piece titled Reminiscence featuring a recognizable continuous drone, perhaps evoking Cro Magnon cave rituals, followed by the more abstract rhythmical transformed contemporary kicks of Pulsation on E-flat, invoking the association with heart beats (as Rhizomes evokes the sounds of breathing, although sometimes sounding rather like traveling through a network of wormholes), layered in various tempi, creating an almost biological polyrhythm for the duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds as a tribute to John Cage. Here, although there is a perceptible more or less single pitch, a continuous harmonic drone is circumvented, and what can be called a rhythmical drone is heard. This also happens in Time, where extremely slowly accelerating and decelerating clocks against a background of a pink noise counterpoint transcend the limits of what can be called perceivable tempo. All consecutive pieces follow a pattern of transposition, as every next one is tuned to a semitone up, from the initial D all the way up to C-sharp with Singularity, which was created and composed from a single spectrally composed droplet of noise with the latest digital technologies.
Any collection of character pieces on all tones may remind one of works such as J.S. Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier, but the major-minor tonal system has been abandoned here, as have the 20th century developments of serialism and pitch class structuring. Indeed a fuller chromatic material has been used throughout, yet pitch often yields to (more or less) pitched abstract sounds, that have nevertheless been carefully tuned by the composer. In a number of occasions microtonal detunings have been used, and several pieces are deliberately pushing the relevance and impact of pitch to the background, allowing for a freer expression in sounds to take to the foreground. Several pieces do include clearly pitched material, using sampled musical instruments next to sounding objects, in a way inferring a new kind of musique concrète. This music as a whole is about structures of pure sound and silence in time. When listening, the single tones the compositions are set to are however not always as obvious as the titles suggest.
- Reminiscence – Dronescape on D (duration 3 minutes 30 seconds)
- Pulsation – Dronescape on E flat (duration 4 minutes 33 seconds)
- Iridescence – Dronescape on E (duration 8 minutes 41 seconds)
- Desolation – Dronescape on F (duration 4 minutes 20 seconds)
- Space – Dronescape on F sharp (duration 3 minutes 30 seconds)
- Time – Dronescape on G (duration 6 minutes 57 seconds)
- Solitude – Dronescape on A flat (duration 6 minutes 23 seconds)
- Interval – Dronescape on A (duration 4 minutes 13 seconds)
- Disintegration – Dronescape on B flat (duration 4 minutes 44 seconds)
- Valedictions – Dronescape on B (duration 3 minutes 33 seconds)
- Rhizomes – Dronescape on C (duration 11 minutes 5 seconds)
- Singularity – Dronescape on C sharp (duration 6 minutes 36 seconds)
One can see and hear subsets emerging from the total collection: for example Pulsation, Time, and Valedictions are placed equally spaced over the cycle of works, and all three works concern time structures and emerging rhythms by using more or less concrete sounds. Next to a variety of contemporary sampling and sound creation techniques, the album further includes the use of digitally recreated vintage electronic hardware such as i.e. the EMS Synthi VCS3 (Desolation) and the Fairlight CMI (Space).
The collection of shorter Dronescapes presented on this album present a variety of atmospheres, as well as of compositional and contemporary digital techniques. The traditional terms electric music, electronic music, tape music etcetera do not apply here, hence the suggestion to speak of digital music. Scores are available of the two orchestral pieces included: Interval (this is the second piece with the exact duration of 4 minutes and 33 seconds) and Disintegration (4 minutes 44 seconds), so these two works can be performed live and non digitally as well.
A second album Dronescape 2 is being released at the same time by OIJ Records, containing 2 much longer works, exploring further a world of Dronescapes. A word of warning: after careful listening, the world around you may not sound the same any longer.
Donemus DCV 281