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?


up vote 1 down vote accepted

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? – Todd Wilcox May 16 at 16:27
  • Not necessarily - bagpipes have more than one drone note. I think the essential criterion is it is unchangeable. – Tetsujin May 16 at 16:33

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