Ways to Use
Cello Drones for Tuning and Improvisation
1. Using a drone which is the same pitch as one of your strings, adjust that string in and out of tune with your tuning peg or fine tuner, feeling vibrational alignment with the drone as it comes and goes. After tuning the string, play it with its upper string neighbor, adjusting so the 5th is also in alignment with the drone.
2. With a drone as the tonic:
a. Build an arpeggio: play the tonic in octaves, then add the 5th(s), then add the 3rd(s).
b. Feel the frequency relationship between the drone and each degree of the scale as you first sing the scale and then play it on your instrument.
c. Explore new and unfamiliar keys.
3. A drone can accompany a piece of music which stays close harmonically to its original key. For example, music that moves harmonically between the original key and the 5th can be accompanied by the drone of the original key throughout.
4. Using a progression of drones in passage work can indicate where music is moving harmonically. Determine the key of a musical passage and tune each note of the passage to the drone of that key. As the key area shifts, changing the drone serves as a cue shifting our inner sense of scale and chord structure and reorienting our ears to the new key area.
5. Playing with a drone and without written music allows us to focus on the auditory and the kinesthetic and to develop our inner sense of the fingerboard map. Learn the fingering patterns for scales and arpeggios! Improvise in tune!
6. Improvise using a drone and the rhythm of speech. Choose a scale and the drone which is the tonic of this scale. Using the rhythm from a line of poetry, or the rhythm of your name, play that rhythm at a slow tempo on the tonic. Allow rhythmic variations to occur. Gradually add neighboring notes of the scale, taking time with each new note to explore all patterns and intervals possible among your range of pitches. This kind of word rhythm (also known as free rhythm or breath rhythm) can be a rhythmic starting point leading to new ideas continuing in free rhythm or moving into a regular beat. Venture up the scale to the fifth, to the octave, and beyond. Return to the tonic as an ending of your improvisation.
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