Throughout human history, drone music has been associated with the divine. The ancient Greeks thought the music of the planets, or the ‘universal music’, was one extended tone. In Hinduism Om is the primordial sound from which all existence springs and it’s the first thing we hear in the womb.
But what role does it play in the radical music of the 20th Century? Ahead of his book on the subject, writer Harry Sword joins Verity to explore the heavier manifestations of drone. He shares pieces which challenge the idea that drone is always meditative, taking a look instead at the artists who are marrying metal and drone while still attempting to transcend the self.
We tune into the universal hum with pieces from current minimalist composer Sarah Davachi, heavy drone overlords Sunn O))) and ancient instrument player Barnaby Brown who uses vulture bones and prehistoric pipes to play Celtic drone. Verity also reflects on the recurring presence of the note C within drone. Engines often idle at C. Her coffee machine drones a C, as do bees in a hive, and Terry Riley famously focused on the note for his ‘In C’.
Elsewhere Verity picks out some anti-establishment electronics from Swiss Togo duo Yao Bobby and Simon Grab and we play new music from Mica Levi, which snuck out late last year.
Produced by Alannah Chance and Zakia Sewell
A Reduced Listening production from BBC Radio 3
1 The Gyuto Monks Tantric Choir – Initiation Ceremony Of Guhysamaja Tantra
2 Sissy Fuss – Pale Moon Melts
3 Keiji Haino, Merzbow & Balázs Pándi – Become The Discovered, Not The Discoverer (Part I)
4 John G. Cramer – The Sound of the Big Bang
5 Yabass Yaba Radics – The End Is Nigh
6 Barnaby Brown – The Desperate Battle Of The Birds
7 Tanya Tagaq – Aorta
8 Rian Treanor – Obstacle 1
9 Éliane Radigue – Kyema, Intermediate States
10 Master Musicians of Joujouka – Untitled
11 Sunn O))) – My Wall
12 CV Vision – Ritual (No.4)
13 Hamid Drake, Elaine Mitchener, William Parker, Orphy Robinson & Pat Thomas – Some Good News
14 Pierre Mariétan – Rose Des Vents
15 Mica Levi – Waves
16 Magurn & Dabulu – Brolga Bird Clan Song
17 Yao Bobby & Simon Grab – Black Revolution
18 Sarah Davachi – Herber Well
19 Widow’s Weeds – Twilight Voices
20 SOPHIE – Lemonade
21 Stella Chiweshe – Njuzu
22 Lea Bertucci – Wind Piece