I have just finished a big sound design project and have a few days before another job starts. I also recently noticed a few videos online of people using 4 track cassette recorders to make interesting drones so I decided to give it a go while I had some spare time. I have an old Tascam porta studio 414 mk 11 so I thought I'd dust it off and have a go. Basically the technique involves recording 4 different notes or chords to the 4 tracks and then using the gain adjustment of each track to bring the notes in and out. This allows you to play the 4 track like an instrument by playing the chord progressions or adding and taking away the notes of a chord. The technique is made easier if you record to a tape loop as then there is no need to constantly rewind the tape. The downside of doing it this way is that you usually hear the loop ending and beginning again, although this can be made less noticeable by adding reverb and delay. You can either buy tape loops or make you own (this is fairly fiddly but good fun - I'll demonstrate how in a later blog post). If you don't use a loop then the trick is to record each of the 4 notes at a length which means they don't end as you are playing your drone. So if the sound you want is around 4 minutes then, to be safe, record each note for around 5 mins so you have a bit of leeway. On the PS 414 there is also a pitch knob, EQ and pan controls which you can play with as you are creating your drone. Below is a rough video of me demonstrating the technique (and being a bit over jealous with the pitch wheel!). I think the cassette gives the sound a lovely woolly Lo-Fi quality but this is maybe a product of being a teenager in the 90s and spending all my time recording tunes off the radio! I've made the sounds on ableton's 'analog' (very basic pad sounds) and am running it all through a digitech 'polara' reverb pedal.