Drone Wave


“Drone Wave," composed January 14-January 20, 2018, is an interpretation of a sonic work described in a short story, entitled “Dance!”, by Genevieve Hudson. Hudson writes:

“For as many years as Connie could remember, the most popular music in the world had been a single note played for minutes at a time called Drone Wave. The single note played in cafes, hummed into earbuds, rung out in the grand open spaces of Central Station. People no longer danced. Instead of dancing, people stood in the sound with their eyes closed. They raised their hands above their heads and spun in a slow circle. Not dancing, but trembling. Connie despised Drone Wave. She longed for music from another time – Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, something heavy metal. Connie’s favorite music had words, multiple notes and even, sometimes, a melody. Oh, that feeling, like her face was melting, when a song hit a chorus that she loved. Drone Wave could never do that to the chest.”

For "Drone Wave," I wanted to create a sound that was as sedating as it was addictive, accounting for its success as a totalitarian socio-regulatory broadcast. I sought a sound at once dead and vibrant–a sound that repulsed the story’s protagonist yet, because they were listening and longing and loving, a sound spurring them to pursue new sound–a sound beyond the drone and beyond the nostalgia for the familiar socio-regulatory sonic schemes of pop music and heavy metal.

A "note” is defined by its periodicity, its cycling, its circling, its perpetual repetition of the same frequency patterns. A note is by no means a simple sound, but a sound containing tens of thousands of frequencies. It is, however, constant, its periodicity totalizing, its tens of thousands of flowers lockstep.

The note of “Drone Wave” is composed with:

– 12 frequencies of Shrutis
– 2 “anonymous” frequencies produced using Iron Curtain electronics (electronics produced with technologies of the Formanta Radio Factory)
– Cycled samples from the following Library of Congress recordings: A) An Omaha Indian “funeral song”--“addressed directly to the spirit of the dead and intended to cheer the spirit on its journey” (recorded 1893); B) 1896 recording of Ernest Hogan and George J. Gaskin, “All Coons Look Alike to Me.”

The note contains: healing ratios; sonics of Cold War separations; sorrow and good wishes; legacies of interracial hatred.




my partner and collaborator, conceptual artist, Angela White