How to Make Music With Drones

The good thing about performing music with drones is that they always show up for rehearsal on time. The bad thing is that they might suddenly drop out of the air and onto your head.

I learned all this while putting together a piece called “Drone Confidential” for Arizona State University’s Emerge, a “Carnival of the Future” that was held in Phoenix recently. Emerge is an annual circus of cool new technologies in performance, dedicated to showing how artists and machines can work together to create something awesome.

In my musical career, I’ve jammed with nightingales, humpback whales, and 17-year cicadas—so when I was asked to do this piece for Emerge, I figured, “Why not?” and got to work on planning. At first I wanted the drones to sing, or at least give voice to their secrets and struggles, but it turned out that even a Bluetooth speaker weighing a few ounces would mess up their navigability. No wonder the real practical drones cost thousands of dollars each. … (Read more)

FT-140320-Rothenberg drone