Grandiose and attention-grabbing – these are two words that describe much of pop music. But on the other end of the spectrum is a different kind of music: lowercase and drone. These two experimental genres might be thought of as miniature: they both use silence, repetition, soft sounds. Miniature music is an oasis in a world that is often noisy, chaotic, and overwhelming.
What is experimental music?
Experimental music is an umbrella term describing a cornucopia of genres, but what they all have in common is eccentricity, strange textures, technicalities, and more – the music equivalent to ergodic literature like House of Leaves, requiring more work on the listener’s end than the average mainstream tune.
Why work to enjoy something? The challenge is itself interesting and fun: think spicy foods or scary roller coasters.
Here are some examples of drone and lowercase music:
Drone: This type of music is characterized by long, sustained tones and repetition.
These first two examples contain soft, ambient sounds perfect for “wallpaper music.”
Don’t let these two pieces fool you: drone encompasses more than soft sounds. Here is another type whose mysterious choral segments combine with heavy guitars to create an immersive and compelling sound:
Lowercase: This unique genre, which is an extreme form of minimalism, is the auditory equivalent to ASMR. It is a type of ambient music where very quiet sounds are amplified using a computer. The defining lowercase work is “Forms of Paper,” where the artist Steve Roden recorded himself handling – you guessed it – sheets of paper. This genre is interesting because it reveals an acoustically tiny world previously inaccessible to human ears.
What does experimental music offer?
Music like this may not stick in your head like a song by Katy Perry, but it offers raw emotion, painting clear and vivid pictures using sound alone. We listen to pop songs and sing along to the lyrics, but experimental music generally doesn’t lend itself to that. Instead, it creates an atmosphere. It lacks catchy hooks, but it has textures, rare sounds, and breathing room.
Are you a fan of miniature music?