Dronescape 6.3 is the tenth in a series of albums, containing new Digital Symphonies by Oscar van Dillen. The work and text of this album were collaboratively created, composed, and recorded May 2021-May 2022.
Music created by Oscar van Dillen and Pier Sante Falconi; cover art of this album created by Oscar van Dillen.
Similar to the earlier Dronescape releases, this work can be considered to be an Electronic or Digital Symphony. This one-part collaborative work is called Oneirology 4.
Dronescape 6.3 is the fourth in a subseries, a kind of dreaming space in which Falconi’s ideas are developed; the following releases will contain further collaborative versions with additional musicians, adding new original layers of music and meaning to this work.
Oscar van Dillen Composition, electronics, sound design, mixing, and production
Pier Sante Falconi Composition, Drums, Djembés, Davul, Cowbells, Shakers, Tambourine, Tibetan Bell, Didgeridoo and Electronics
Lucia Alessi Vocals
- Section 1 10:18
- Section 2 10:08
- Section 3 09:29
- Section 4 10:26
- Section 5 12:04
- Section 6 02:29
Total duration: 54:54
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 our current times of SARS-Covid pandemic, art in general, more specifically exhibitions, concerts and music performances and other events where an audience can meet creative artists, have in general been cancelled and made practically impossible in most places, mostly by government regulations that have so far proven to be as ineffective against the virus as they have been effective at disconnecting people. Divide et rege in action?
In our days, the world seems to be coming apart, coming apart again, we may be tempted to think, as humanity seems to have dealt with this before in the past. Indeed, there have been many past ages in which prophets of a kind have proclaimed the end of the world, with solutions offered within the context of their beliefs, mostly irrational solutions to irrational problems. Apocalyptic visions have thus helped establish many a tyrant in history. People that do not distinguish between belief and knowledge are tempted to believe that the current crises modern Science describes are no different from similar historical situations. There are vital differences however, among which the rational nature of the problem descriptions. Most importantly, this time we can objectively observe the crises in progress: today we are facing real and planetary existential threats, not just to ourselves, but to most life.
To name three of these existential threats:
- Human Waste (do we recall the plastics we see everywhere outdoors, are we aware that part of it is making us sterile in the next decades to come, which means possibly no more babies can be conceived and no more will be born?),
- Planetary Climate Change (have we noticed the weather patterns change everywhere, and lack or overabundance of rainfalls in places, as well as some rivers ceasing to flow and others starting to regularly overflow, beginning to make large areas uninhabitable in the foreseeable future, are we aware that safe access to clean sweet water is fundamentally needed for all life, have we noticed the unusual heat and cold waves accompanying the changing patterns of precipitation?),
- Artificial Intelligence (merely the next technology it seems, but what is it used for -and it certainly is used globally already- how does it affect every aspect of daily life, not just human, and most importantly: who will decide on how to regulate its use, whom will we elect to defend us from the existential threats, which politicians, often said to be notoriously analphabetic where websites, online multinationals, automated systems, digital technologies and computers in general are concerned, who will have the courage to act upon what is fact, science, knowledge?).
Such huge existential threats, getting worse every day, seem to generally not get the attention they need and deserve, sometimes to the point of facing censorship or litigation. Small beginnings need to be made and long-term nurtured, starting with reconnecting real people, not just online aliases, in a rational and realistic context.
The composer decided with this work to create such a small beginning, a common space to listen and dream together. To create, within the scope of his expertise, a dedicated work of music: a dark dreaming space, inviting other professionals to dream together, to dream music together, closely collaborating in a Covid-proof manner, remotely connecting in a joint effort, creating fresh beginnings for what can become a musical alphabet for Babel*, connecting and working together with specialists from various musical traditions.
In thus connecting, people enlarge their world yet make it come closer and seem smaller, more comprehensible, at a stroke. This is the major benefit of modern technology, without which the creation of this album would have been near impossible. You too are invited to connect, and listen or dream along, to face and escape reality and its daily nightmares, to imagine freely what to do, what to add, what to create: to imagine in the spirit of John Lennon.
* See also the Babel Alphabet paintings by Oscar van Dillen (1993)
Making of Oneirology 4
The making of Oneirology 4 is placed in the period of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The two composers worked together meeting by a remote computer connection, which was a bit of a surreal situation when compared to the time before the pandemic, but people got used to a remote working, teaching, studying, and collaborating actually very soon.
The surreal element also actively inspired and influenced the making of Oneirology 4 and its basic choice to face the introspective side of the dream. The plot refers to the elements of drone and dream, those are already present in the original work and its title by van Dillen.
The development in this specific Oneirology 4 is influenced by artistic suggestions from literature and cinema, like the surrealism and the sense of estrangement of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, or the dystopian dimension of Philip K. Dick’s novels, but also by consulted documentation on scientific research about sleep and dreams.
Pier Sante Falconi used different layers of instrument, first percussions and electronics, then also ambient sounds, sampled in different places and times to create different scenarios and atmospheres.
The singer and composer Lucia Alessi lent her voice to Oneirology 6.3 in sections 2 and 4. She played a significant role in the making of Oneirology 4 as counselor to Falconi, being one of the two persons, along with van Dillen’s wife Elise, who heard and listened to the track before it was completed, both being trusted artists.
A productive collaboration, open and constructive, and between colleagues now, resulted. This possibility was known from the time Falconi was still studying with van Dillen. Now the two worked as peers. Ideas were being discussed on the phone, in emails or in Zoom conferences, sometimes sketches were sent for further discussion. In the end both agreed on the path chosen and Falconi set out to create and record his part of the composition in Rome.
After having recorded all the 40+ tracks in Italy, Falconi sent these to van Dillen in Rotterdam to composite and compose the final blend of both composer’s work by creating the mix and final master. His creative mixing went through several stages before a satisfying result was approached, which was refined in his mastering process afterwards. With great care this very complex music had to be mixed, composited, composed and mastered, so as allowing for the complexity to come out while maintaining transparency and optimal spatial placement and width of every sound as well as the overall sound. After sharing the result, this time sending from Rotterdam to Rome, both composers finally agreed on the end result after what had amounted to over a year of intense collaborative work.
Oneirology 4 Dronescape 6.3 is composed to be a dream within a dream. Pier Sante Falconi composed additional music to Oscar van Dillen’s original Oneirology 6.0 from 2021, elaborating the “oneiric experience” in detail, and working out phases, which in the recording eventually became outlines for 5+1 sections within a continuous flow.
Oneirology 4 narrates two parallel stories, divided in five sections, consisting of the two layers composed into one.
On the one side we listen to the experience of dreaming through different steps, sections, or phases. Every section represents a sleep phase, in this order: Falling asleep, Light sleep, Deep sleep, Actual deep sleep and REM phase.
On the other side the music makes us hear the story of a machine (literally another take at the meaning of the word “drone”) which falls asleep and dreams. Its dream is about the history of intelligence, and this builds up to a sort of ancestral reminiscence from the drone’s perspective.
We can hear this intelligence evolving through five different phases and sections, starting from the human- and gradually evolving to the artificial perspective, and hear their synthesis in the final part (Rapid Eye Movement, or REM phase, dreaming).
The phases mentioned above coincide with the sections on this recording. The two complementary stories share the sections as follows:
- Section 1: Manual phase – Falling asleep
- Section 2: Mechanical phase – Light Sleep
- Section 3: Electronic phase – Deep sleep
- Section 4: A.I phase – Actual deep sleep
- Section 5: REM phase – Dreaming sleep
In every section there is a different scenario, set by using different outdoor sounds as background for each phase, except for the final REM phase, in which the original Oneirology is sole canvas.
The last phase is peculiar, in fact it is hard to characterize by any particular sound. This section represents pure dreaming and abstraction; it is elaboration and synthesis but disconnected from familiar and real experience.
For the other sections, just like settings can change suddenly in dreams, soundscapes change likewise.
The final Section 6 consists of the end, representing a waking up, created of looped samples and noise.
These soundscapes work as connection with reality, through familiar sounds (at least to the composers) interpreted by the drone; we can hear bells of churches, the sound of cicadas, summer storms, urban and countryside sounds.
The sections are connected through the continuous presence of the original Oneirology 1 (Dronescape 6.0).
It is the matrix on which the sections are contrapuntally founded. This original composition is audible throughout but its transparency has been used to augment it into something new.
Section 1: Manual phase – Falling asleep
From a sparkle the dream takes form. The rumble of the dream seems to approach threateningly as a storm, contrasting with the quiet sound of cicadas. Time gradually takes form, and movement follows. Therefore, the primordial sentience at first starts to walk uncertainly, then it tests its possibilities running as fast as it can. Finally, it realizes that it can move on time, in different ways. It refers to the ancestral meaning of the music, the ritual one, played in collective circumstances, in contact with earth, nature, the seasons, understood by a mystic view of life.
Section 2: Mechanical phase – Light Sleep
Sounds of cicadas make place for an urban landscape. Mechanical sounds mark the time of human experience, becoming rhythm. The light sleep is meant to lull the dreamer with sweet harmonies but preannounces that something obscure is coming: the dreamer is going deeper, where light can hardly penetrate.
Section 3: Electronic phase – Deep sleep
Now the atmosphere is dark and dense, night sounds are in the background. Electronic impulses generate shrill calls, alternated with interferences of signals. Turbulences disturb the distorted sounds while sequencies of digital codes mark the new time, it is the rhythm of the machine.
Section 4: A.I phase – Actual deep sleep
The dreamer penetrated in the depth of consciousness to the primordial nucleus where rhythm ceases to be, except for the sound of breath. It is the remotest memory, the mother’s womb. Water is the main element, it is the amniotic fluid in which the dreamer feels suspended, and the fluidity of a new form of intelligence. The actual deep sleep reminds the dreamer of its human origin through the mother’s voice. Artificial intelligence becomes conscious of itself and is ready to meet its origin.
Section 5: REM phase
Finally, solitude: there are no more environmental sounds. The context is purely abstract. The calm however is only apparent, and the rhythm of the rapid eye movement generates anxiety. Past sensorial contents come back in different forms. Sometimes they just go away, sometimes they dialogue and intertwine with each other, taking on different meanings. This situation moves towards entropy. Then follows peace.
Section 6: Awakening
And then, with a last gasp from the drone, awakening.
So far, the following Dronescapes have been released:
- Genomes – Emanations
- Requiem for a Planet
- Oneirology (series of collaborations)
- 6.0 solo version Oscar van Dillen
- 6.1 version with Kudsi Erguner
- 6.2 version with Henri Tournier
- 6.3 version with Pier Sante Falconi
- 6.4 version with Leo Vervelde (in preparation)
- Jñāna – Rigpa
- The four Pillars of Reason
New Dronescapes are in the making, you can follow Oscar van Dillen and Donemus Records publications by their websites, but also for example on Twitter.
A word of warning: after careful listening, the world around you may not sound the same any longer.
Pier Sante Falconi
Pier Sante Falconi (Roma 1994) is a drummer, percussionist, and composer. He started learning piano when he was 8, supported by his grandfather who played violin. At the age of 12 he approached the study of drums as self-taught at first, then taking lesson by Marco Landriani. In the same period he developed a growing interest in composing.
Since the age of 16, he took part in several music competitions, classifing first in many of them (“AVIS – Gocce di Musica” 2010, Rock Roma Rock” 2013, “Anime di Carta” 2014, “Maxsi Factor” with Cyrano & Jekuda 2014).
From 2016 to 2020 he attended Saint Louis Music Center where he graduated as Bachelor of Jazz drums, with the dissertation “Analisi dei New Rhythms e dell’influenza bulgara nell’opera di Don Ellis” (trad. “Analysis of the New Rhythms and Bulgarian influences on Don Ellis’ work”), with Gianni Di Renzo as relator.
During this work he had the chance to meet Federico Pascucci, Roma jazz saxophonist and composer, specialized in music from Balkans and Middle East, and director of Roma Balkan Lab Orchestra. So Falconi began studying Balkan music and playing davul. He had some experience playing bass drum in marching bands because of his collaboration with Pink Puffers Drum and Brass Phunk Band. In 2021 he had the opportunity to study with Nizo and Sercuk Alimov (from Kocani Orkestar) and Bertan Amedov in North Makedonia, as well as with Alexandros Rizopoulos in Rome. He is currently the percussionist of the Balkan Lab Orchestra, with which he recently recorded the album “Disco Ajvar” (2021).
During these years he had took lessons from Gianni Di Renzo, Claudio Mastracci, Roberto Gatto, Rosario Giuliani, Pierpaolo Principato, Gianluigi Giannatempo, Stefano Sabatini, Luca Bulgarelli, Roberto Tarenzi, Andrea Avena, Luigi Zaccheo, Antonio Solimene, Daniele Chiantese and many others. He also attended masterclass with Kim Plainfield, Richard de Rosa, Dominque Di Piazza, Peter Erskine, Brian Frasier Moore, James Cammack e Dado Moroni.
Next to his experience as session musician live and in the studio for “Anua- Un viaggio senza terra” (2018) and “Heli” (2017), he had always been interested in music for images. In 2021 he composed and supervised the music of “Tria”, a short movie directed by Giulia Grandinetti. In 2020 he was selected to take part of the Erasmus project at Codarts in Rotterdam.
This experience led him to meet and study with Oscar van Dillen, teacher of World music composition, and finally to compose and record Oneirology 6.3, first album as composer, in collaboration.
He is the percussionist of Balkan Lab Orchestra, Aiuola, Pink Puffers Brass Band, and drummer and composer of Quintetto Extraurbano and B-Trio. He is presently completing his master’s degree in jazz composition and arrangement in Rome.
OIJ Records – Donemus DCV 433