Notes on drone notes

Via the Velvet Underground documentary (dir.  Todd Haynes 2021) I found out about La Monte Young, the composer and performer who influenced John Cale to use long drawn out notes. Cale mentioned that when playing with Young they used drone notes tuned to the 60 cycle fridge (“The 60 cycle hum is the drone of western civilisation” Cale). This minimalist music was a form of disciplined, meditative practice and they would spend an hour and a half each day playing one note. (29:51).

“Each frequency is perceived at a different point on the cerebral cortex so when you set up a group of frequencies that are repeated over and over it establishes a psychological state that can be very strong and profound. You can hear details in the harmonic series that are extraordinarily beautiful and unusual, and you begin to realise that there are new places in sound that you could find a home. ” La Monte Young

I found an hour long recording of Composition 1960 No. 7 performed by the Dust Archive. It is not set so that I can embed it but the link is here;

About 20 minutes into the listening I started to hear melodies that were not there. Audio hallucinations made up tunes from the one note. I’m saving this as a potential resource for sound drawing machine #2 that is currently in the expert hands of Bristol Robotics Lab. When it is built it will move a pen over a rotating platform that holds paper. Movements will be dictated by sound frequencies and I’ll be able to adjust the code so it is sensitive to different layers of sound.  I’m wondering if there is a way I could trigger the machine to draw audio hallucinations. My mind made those melodies up out of something, following some kind of rules. I just need to find out what those rules are.

This is possibly something I could do in Processing too. Parking this here for later.

Venus in Furs 1967. Lou Reed – lead vocals and guitar, ostrich guitar (same note tuning on all strings), John Cale – electric viola, Sterling Morrison – bass, Mo Tucker – tambourine, bass drum.

Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism


Saturday, 26 Oct 2019, 02:30 60 mins



Series in which Charles Hazlewood explores the four great American minimalist composers who rebooted classical music in the 20th century. In this episode Charles tracks down the pioneers of minimalism, which began on America’s west coast in the 1950s. Describing them as ‘prophets without honour’, he explores La Monte Young’s groundbreaking experiments with musical form that included notes held for exceptionally long periods of time, and drones inspired by Eastern classical music and Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath. He drives out into the Californian countryside to the ranch of Terry Riley and discusses the musician’s revolutionary experiments with tape recording looping and phasing, along with early synthesizer sound. The episode includes excerpts from key early minimalist pieces, including Riley’s now famous In C, performed by Charles Hazlewood’s All Stars Collective and detailed workshopping by Hazlewood where pieces are deconstructed musically.

Ben Whalley
Programme ID
10C0A973 Search for repeats

research resonance – Brian Catling talk about Blake – (Blake society) objects have their own resonance in which we find meaning. Single drone sounds invoke audio hallucinations via their resonance.

Catling work luring angels down with nests and things they may find interesting.

Also –


one musical note and my mind made up new tunes than you La Monde Young

The Tiny Art Gallery Manual

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print