Drone Machines at ZERO1 by Julia Bradshaw
Sonic pleasures accompanied many of the opening day activities, none more fun than Tristan Shone’s Drone Machines on The San José State University campus.

Drone machines are hand-fabricated devices that look like someone has parked elements from an industrial shop in the midst of an arts festival. The instruments are reminiscent of some form of industrial cutting device, or suggest the heavy fabricated levers that are necessary to drive a ship. The weight of each device and the resistance each generates adds to a melodic sense of sound-creation.

Visitors to 01SJ enjoy the sounds and are piqued with curiousity over Shone’s Drones. Tristan Shone, left, engages former Museum of Art Director, Dan Keegan who made a special trip West for 01SJ.

Another instrument, fabricated using a CNC machine, is shaped like a heavy metal drum and is played by tapping and rotation. For this machine/instrument, inertia plays a role in ensuring an organic sound. Inside each of these instruments is an open-source micro-controller and robotics that are connected to the computer controls and from there to the amplifiers. The computer determines the output whereas sound is produced by two or more pitch and volume controllers in each device.

So what did it sound like? Drone is a good word. It’s the kind of music that sucks you in, that you can listen to for a long time as it feels both organic and soft. It murmurs and hums and hisses and bellows and roars and fades. Shone’s interest in heavy metal comes through in his music – only with a less wild performative aspect. He plays his instruments well; like some intense form of metal music mediation.

Tristan Shone, who performs as Author and Punisher fabricated his instruments either by hand or by using a CNC machine. He will also be performing on 1st street as part of the SubZero event on Friday May 6th from 6pm.

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