I'm learning how to program software synthesizer. I came across with these two types of patch described as "pad" and "drone". They sound somewhat similar for me.

Could someone explain what the difference is between those two?


1 Answer 1


On a synth, they're pretty much the same thing, depending on how you play it.

They're both relatively constant, maintaining a sound bed underneath your melodic & rhythmic structure. They don't have any kind of 'spiky' or rhythmic essence to them - slow, drifting, would best describe them.

Essentially, though, a drone never changes note[s] - like the drones on bagpipes or hurdy-gurdy etc - so you have to really play in a single key.

A pad is 'drone-like' but free to follow your chord progression.

  • Also, aren't drones usually single notes while pads are usually chords? May 16, 2018 at 16:27
  • Not necessarily - bagpipes have more than one drone note. I think the essential criterion is it is unchangeable.
    – Tetsujin
    May 16, 2018 at 16:33

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