This research has been exploring the world of long tones, traditionally named pedals and drones. The way these labels are commonly used brings two problems with it.
1) First, it suggests that the pedals in the western art music are fundamentally different than the drones of folk music and drone music. While this is indeed a statistical truth, it prevents the analyst from seeing that some art music pieces also feature folk drones, and some others the drones like those in ambient music. On the other side, some folk music is more tonal than another, and some drones are thus similar to harmonic pedals. The word ‘similar’ in this context refers to how long tones, pedals and drones, are perceived, how their ‘working’ is perceived.
In the 21st century, it seems more relevant than it was before, to take into consideration the listener’s perspective. This is the century where musicians are working in a different ‘cultural landscape’, as Dutch scholar Rineke Smilde points out. Some of the keywords of this new musical environment are multidisciplinarity, multiculturality, cross-genres, being open for new and non-traditional solutions. Being open includes having own relationship with various musical styles. Musical perceptions of a classically trained western musician (or a theorist) will always to a certain extent be mediated by her ‘western ears’. It seems desired and even necessary to consider these ‘mediated’ perceptions as relevant, when analyzing music. This makes the analyst open to try to understand the working of music also through a broadened theoretical language, and even in non-traditional ways. Related to the current topic, it makes possible to understand cross-stylistic musical interactions, and their influence on musical perception - of also long notes.
2) Second, having the two terms, pedal and drone, suggests there are exactly two variants of sustained sound. This does not reflect the fact that there is a whole variety of forms, and also a whole variety of effects that these forms can create. My research has started from pedal and drone, that were described as a harmonic process and a sonorous element (respectively). The problem of classification of long notes into one of the two categories has led to the establishment of concepts pedal-ness and drone-ness, as parameters that can describe any instance of long notes. These parameters make possible to describe the effect, without necessity to label the long tone as a pedal or a drone. The reader has perhaps noticed the difficulty that I have had at the moments when the logic of things implied using the word drone for the long notes in Das Rheingold and Frescobaldi’s Toccata sesta. In the language of western music theory, we use the word pedal. Application of the concepts pedal-ness and drone-ness, makes the whole issue about labels less relevant.
Analyzing fragments in a variety of musical styles has led to the conclusion that the two parameters are very useful, but not sufficient to describe the essence of some long notes. During the research, the realm of long notes has started to differentiate into discernable types: several types of harmonic pedals, and a couple of drone types. Next to these, I have defined also several types with low pedal-ness and low drone-ness, that seem not to be either of the two - although they are traditionally considered as being pedals (e.g. rhythmic pedal in the accompanying voices). The research has shown that the discussed types (models) are recognizable as such.
The differentiation into particular models is made on the basis of their ‘working’ or their ‘effect’, the way they are perceived. As a conceptual frame for analyzing their working, I have taken the Expectancy theories of Meyer and Margulis. They have proved to be useful tools for describing the differences between the types of pedal and drone. Bringing in the theories of expectation has helped explaining the tension that some pedals strongly incite and others do not (so strongly). Powerful harmonic pedals have strong harmonic forces that arouse very concrete expectation, and delay its realization (the effect is felt as denial-tension and expectation-tension). Expectational theories made possible to explain, at least in a certain extent, the difference in effect of harmonic pedals and foundational (and textural) drones. Referring to my first research question, the expectation-tension is responsible for the effect of many powerful harmonic pedals. Drones do not incite concrete expectations concerning consequent event. Between these two poles, harmonic pedals and textural drones, there are other types of pedals that do not seem to arouse particular expectations - except for this one: at the moment they are recognized as a particular type, the listener expects them to behave according to how that type of pedal usually behaves. In this case, the concept of expectation is involved on the level of the whole pattern (related to ‘behavior’ of both pedal tone and other voices), or on the level of structure (related to expectations of closure of a structural unit or arrival of an important thematic unit).