Practicing With Drones and Pitch Internalization

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by basscat35, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. basscat35


    Mar 15, 2005
    Just wondering if Drone practice is the best way to get a good sense of internal pitch. After all, I`m really not practicing with a drone to get better at practicing with a drone. Does anyone think singing or something else is a better aid for pitch internalization? Maybe the best is all of the above?
  2. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    I never heard of such a thing.
  3. ear training/sight singing/solfege away from an instrument is probably the best way to internalize pitch. If you are practicing with a drone, you are not necessarily internalizing anything because the tonic (or whatever you are droning on) is made abundantly clear.
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    +1 vocal lessons have been great for my intonation. Better than practicing with a drone.
  5. basscat35


    Mar 15, 2005
    Thanks guys-- I was practicing a couple of tunes today--one arco and one pizz and I must admit that there were some notes I played that weren`t immediately apparent to me how in tune (or not) they were. Of course put the drone on and as you say; Meandering, it was made abundantly clear. It`s pretty easy when the drone is going and alot of people from the forum swear by it. I`ll still use it but I`ll start making more of an effort with ear training, singing, etc
  6. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    If you think about it, if drones were so great people would have started doing it a lot more and a lot sooner than now. You could always do it with a partner who could play the drone for you. Instead, they send you to ear training and solfege lessons.
  7. gard0300

    gard0300 Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    I can't speak for the OP, but I'm assuming he's practicing intervals over drones. I do it all the time. I enjoy it. If you ever check out Scott Devine's bass lessons. He does this quite a bit. It doesn't hurt anything. You can explore how a minor third sounds over over the tonic, etc.
  8. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC

    I was introduced to the idea of utilizing drones while in music school back in the 80's- it's hardy a "new" idea.

  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2011
    Torrance, CA
    Are you trying to improve your intonation? What's your goal? Drones are one good way to help intonation, certainly, but there are others.
    If you're just trying to hear the intervals more clearly, nothing, IMO, can help more than sitting at a piano, which has consistent pitches, and playing intervals while singing them. If you're working on intonation for a stringed quartet, then that's a different issue altogether.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I'd pay attention to it if only my bass had frets and I didn't have to worry about intonation.
  11. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Drones work.

    Might not be for everyone.

    I have found them to be useful.
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I've done both drones and singing. Singing beats the crap out of drones. YMMV.
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    That's because you used drones first. :D
  14. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Now, how exactly does this help?

  15. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    I've been using drones recently. Unfortunately I'm not consistent enough to be sure it's working, but it seemed better to try and find pitches against a tonic vs every note in an exercise, since that's more like playing with an ensemble (I considered recording each exercise with piano first instead).
  16. hepcatbassist


    May 8, 2013
    Shoot, I'm a beginner on upright and ever since I started 8 months ago I've been practicing my scales with drones...
    I understand that interval training works well with a piano, but don't you think using drones for intonation and interval training is like killing two birds with one stone? With a drone, I hear if the note I'm playing is in tune AND how it relates to tonic.
    How would singing help? I feel like the drones would have more consistent intonation than my voice...
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    You sound great for just 8 months of playing. I'm jealous.

    Anyways, think of it this way, when you learn to sing it, the drone is going off in your head - not in an external device.

    IMO, if you're using an external drone, you have to react to how your note sounds vs. the drone. Ear training develops your inner ear so that the note comes out immediately at the right pitch without needing to react. If you have to react like that to other notes going on around you at 260bpm, you'll struggle with intonation. If it's off before you even touch the instrument, you'll always be behind. Garbage in, garbage out. You have to do what it takes so that the note comes out in tune (from your ear) every time without thought or effort to get there.

    All my voice lessons revolve around singing arps and after playing for a while and working with a piano, it's not hard for the ear to develop that relative pitch. Singing in itself is also interval training for both your voice and your inner ear. Learn to internalize it and you'll get to the path of mastery quicker.

    In hindsight, it's not a short cut but the right way to do it, so that's what I'm preaching. The music is in your head, not in the instrument. As Hal Galper says, "The instrument is an illusion."

    Train your head and the instrument gets trained too. That's a far better two-birds with one stone activity.

    Also, piano can teach you to hear two things at once in your head if you're doing ear training. I think the biggest benefit from piano (or drums) is learning a way for the mind to almost multi-task in the proper sense and truly allow it to process two (or more) sets of activities at once. Trying to sing and play at the same time is really challenging but one of the best things I've done for myself in terms of practice in many different ways.
  18. hepcatbassist


    May 8, 2013
    Ok, makes sense. maybe I've been relying on drones too much to fix my intonation problems.
  19. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    This has been discussed ad nauseum here, and on the "legit" side.

    Pitch reference HELPS YOUR PITCH. Period.

    Chromatic tuners give you a visual feedback, and help your pitch. Drones give you aural feedback via beats and help your pitch, but are terribly faulty on certain intervals. Using a sequencer or playing with a live accompanist or recording yourself/someone else playing things, then playing along with it is the one ring to rule them all.

    Playing along with transcriptions is very helpful. Aebersold play alongs are helpful. Jam sessions and gigs are helpful. All of this is very helpful. Sure, singing helps, but mostly it just helps your singing. :meh: If you want to play the bass in tune, use tools that help you to play the bass in tune.
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    So tell us, have you tried singing and/or solfege? Tell us more about yourself.

    I guess everybody else must be an automaton. Pitches from the piano pass straight from the piano right past their brain and into their vocal chords. There is no cerebral processing involved.