Nico Muhly ~ On Drones

Nico Muhly had time to talk just a little about Drones, the series of recordings that started with a project he did with pianist Bruce Brubaker (whom I interviewed earlier this month) and turned into this project that is being released in three separate digital EPs; Drones & Piano, Drones & Viola and Drones & Violin.

Muhly explains, “The whole Drones project is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I’ve always loved drone-based music. Bruce and I worked together on a kind of open-format piece–that Haydn thing–and I knew that he would be receptive to the idea of doing something slightly stranger. A lot of music with pre-recorded electronics requires a slavish adherence to the tape, or at least some pretty firm points of alignment. I’ve been trying to resist that with this project. A lot of the interactions between the louder moments in the solo part and the louder parts of the tape are, therefore, sort of random. Bruce’s recording works one way, his performances might align in a different way. And other pianists have totally different relationships to the more flexible elements of the piece, which is to say, the timing”.

The Drones series’ next 2 installments will be done differently than the Piano recording.
“[The violin and viola installments] are actually both for piano and solo strings. I think the one for Bruce is the only one, right now, that is going to exist live with an electronic element. I’ve enjoyed playing violin with the violinist for whom I wrote it, Pekka Kuusisto, although I can foresee a way maybe for him to play a few of the movements solo or with electronics. In fact, I’ve heard him play the first movement as an encore after various concerti by having the orchestra hum or play the two pitches that make up the drone.”

Nico Muhly: Drones & Piano (Part V; Bruce Brubaker, piano; Nadia Sirota, viola; Nico Muhly, drones)

Click here to purchase/download Drones & Piano

Nico Muhly (


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