|From my earliest days of composing experimental ambient music I have been fascinated with the modern incarnation of the musical drone.
David Reck writes, in “Music of the Whole Earth”: “The reinforcement of tonal centers by one or more notes of a continuous drone is found in Euro-America, Africa, eastern Europe, central Asia, the Arabic-influenced belt from north Africa to Malaysia, and in the pockets of tribal culture in southeast Asia. Elements of the drone can perhaps be found in every musical culture of the world.”
And as with traditional musical forms, so too with modern music. Around the tonal center of the drone, the musician is free to find expression along the full range of simple to complex harmonies and overtones. The drone acts as a structural scaffolding, and the satellite subsidiary tones of the melody circle around the tonal nucleus (as Curt Sachs has put it) “like butterflies around a flower.”
“Indian King” was built around heavily treated phrases on played on an Indian bansuri, a type of wooden flute in the same family as the Japanese shakuhachi. The nature of the Serge processing of the flute emphasized overtones of the instrument, in effect drawing out the 'melodies' of the upper harmonics of the single notes and bringing them to the forefront of the drone. This is a long drift piece where the single pedal note provides the foundation for an almost symphonic array of shifting tonal clusters, cascading on top of each other to create ghost melodies and harmonies. I find it to be an effective backdrop to meditation, reading, study and gentle exercise, not to mention my favorite: sleep.