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Old 02-26-2013, 06:54 PM   #1
Green_Ghoul
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Bla-bla-bla Utilizing drones and open strings

I've been writing shoegaze songs lately, and I'm kind of having trouble getting how drones/open strings work.

Like, I know that a lot of times they can just be like "e and B open for the entire song or something" but I've seen some MBV songs that are tuned like EADG#BD and I'm wondering if the open notes are dependent on the key of the song to get that wall of sound.

So, leaving the B and e open would really work for a key that has those notes, but not for a song that has Bb and Eb, so they would be tuned accordingly, right? Or does it depend on the notes in the songs and not the key, whatever to get that spacey effect?

Am I understanding that correctly?

Sorry for how jumbled the post is, I'm in class and on my phone typing this...I just can't get this off my mind.
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:42 PM   #2
skilly1
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Drop D will get the drone droning
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:55 PM   #3
food1010
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Open strings work just like any other notes you use in a song. You have to consciously choose them based on the tonal center, melody, harmony, contour, etc.

In their most basic form, drones and pedal tones are usually chord tones of the tonic chord. For example, the open B and E strings would imply that you're in the key of E major or E minor. So would the open low E string.

I would suspect a song that uses open strings that's tuned to EADG#BE would be in E major, considering the top three strings form an E major chord. If you were to play melody/chords on the bottom three strings and use the top three strings as a drone, this would be an effective way to imply a resolution to E major, even if your melody goes in a different direction.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:55 PM   #4
Green_Ghoul
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So it'll sound better if I make the open strings fit into the chord of the key? Like leaving it standard tuning and only playing power chords on the low E and things like c5 w/ roots on the A string, would make it fit with the key of E minor? since G B and E fit in E minor?

And if I do the same thing, but tune each of the top three strings up half a step, the song would be fitting with F minor?

What if I wanted to create a dissonant sound? Would the drone notes even matter that much?
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:25 PM   #5
cdgraves
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There are plenty of dissonant sounds within a key. Play open E and rock C-D#-F# over/under it.

If you want to do "drone" in other keys you might consider a capo or half capo.

Last edited by cdgraves : 02-28-2013 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:51 AM   #6
food1010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green_Ghoul
What if I wanted to create a dissonant sound? Would the drone notes even matter that much?
They will matter equally as much as they did before.

Stop thinking about specific note choices as inherently "good" or "bad." Even the ideas of consonance and dissonance are a bit subjective and unspecific. You have to look at the overall sound as a composite of all of the notes/rhythms/articulation/dynamics/etc. that go into it.

I tend to emphasize the importance of context all the time. If you were to ask how a C would sound in the key of E major, I would tell you "I have no idea, I would need to know more about the context." That C could be the most beautifully placed note in regards to the voiceleading/melody/etc. or it could be a nasty dissonance that adds tension to the harmony and begs for a resolution. Neither of these would necessarily be good or bad, they just each have their own implications.

I used to have a theory teacher that would always answer a question about right/wrong notes by saying something along the lines of "there is no right or wrong, you just have to understand the consequences of whatever you choose."
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Last edited by food1010 : 03-01-2013 at 12:54 AM.
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