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MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Music Gearheads Tech Talk => Topic started by: jmars on March 23, 2011, 09:32:22 PM

Title: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jmars on March 23, 2011, 09:32:22 PM
Anyone out there have any good suggestions on how to use LFO or something similar to get a "rolling" effect for synth?  Looking for something similar to the rolling pads on Steve Roach's work.  Also, what effects work best for this when combined with LFO's?  Until now, I have only worked with LFO's to control filters and such.  Any other advice on unusual effects for ambient music is also welcome.
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: mgriffin on March 24, 2011, 09:07:47 AM
The kind of thing you're describing could be done in the synth (using an LFO to control envelopes or filters) or in an effects unit like a chorus, flange or outboard filter.
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jmars on March 24, 2011, 03:29:41 PM
Thanks!  I'll try that and see what I come up with.  I'm still learning the basics.
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jkn on March 25, 2011, 07:47:56 AM
experiment experiment experiment.   

Getting your hands and ears on the effects - and listening to what changes and the subtle and not so subtle results...  what different pieces of gear do to each other makes a lot more sense as you explore the possiblities. 
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jmars on March 25, 2011, 02:58:21 PM
My only problem is a lack of knowledge and imagination when it comes to effects.  I know what the different effects do, but not how and when to apply them sometimes.  Thanks for the advice!
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: mgriffin on March 25, 2011, 03:06:34 PM
Buy a cheap multi-effects unit, one that has delay, reverb, chorus, flange, phaser, distortion and all that, and experiment with the different settings until you see what they all do.

Or you could probably do the same thing with some kind of software. Record some "plain" sounds and apply various effects to them in some shareware application like Audacity or Reaper, and learn about the effects that way.

Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: Seren on March 25, 2011, 03:22:12 PM
absolutely agree - play around, experiment and discover.

Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jmars on March 25, 2011, 04:46:13 PM
I have the units, just not the expertise.  @mgriffin: I have a Korg AM8000R with all of the effects that you mentioned plus some.  I also have two Lexicon reverb units and a Roland GP-100.  Along with that I have a multitude of VST's that I have accumulated over the past few years.  Like I said, I know what the effects do, just not how to use them sometimes in the music I want to do.  For example, I know how to use delay, but not so much about how to use delay to "modulate" a pitch shifter/harmonizer.  This was suggested to me by Jeff Pearce when talking to him about ambient guitar work.  That kind of stuff is what I was referring to when I said that my imagination is lacking.  I would never have thought of that myself.  Maybe I am getting ahead of myself a bit, but the temptation for instant gratification is still strong.  As I said, I'm still learning and this forum has always been a big help, even before I joined.  Thanks for all of the great suggestions!
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: Seren on March 26, 2011, 02:44:54 AM
starting from scratch - plug everything in to everything else, have something ready to record if you like what you hear when you start playing.

if you get something you either immediately like or is close - make notes of all the settings, just in case.

Keep tweaking - I sense that you are looking for mor subtle and organic sounds rather than effect heavy distortion - so play around with mixes - how does something sound dry, wet, and at various levls between.

If you have a DAW or some other sort of recorder do what Mike says, play something without effects and then play it through all the effects until you like what you hear. if it is a DAW copy what you record a couple of times to new tracks and move them so they are each a few seconds behind the other - then play thaty through the effects.....

I think you might prefer slow modulations, unless you are going for 'glurpy' sounds. Putting sounds through 2 phaser or chorus effects with slightly different settings on each might lead you somewhere you like.
Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: Julio Di Benedetto on March 26, 2011, 07:25:39 AM
The best effect, at least for me is to understand and visualize the soundstage when I record......what your soundstage is is up to you, mine is a simple concert hall and Im in the audience looking at the stage.  I record sounds and place them in/on that stage.  What happens as you build up these sounds is that they modulate, harmonize, distort, cause delay, phase and create space between them as these sounds work to make the music I am writing and without any additional hard or soft FX units.  Granted it can be subtle and certainly reverb can push a sound way way back stage and even exit stage left and out into the galaxy, yet it is the subtle and not so relationship these sounds have that creates the true effect. 

This is also called layering sounds, but it is visualizing those layers in time and space.



Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jkn on March 28, 2011, 06:47:42 AM

Diving in and trying is really the best I can say.  It's amazing what some effects can do to a sound.  Explore explore explore.

I'm not sure exactly what Jeff Pearce was describing...  but I know I've used pitch shifting on delays and that creates incredible subtle stuff (or incredible in your face stuff... :-) 

Ok - below is my response to a question over on rM.ning about "editing"... it describes several things i did with a specific track - link to track is in the text:

2c. - Do you do extensive editing or let the piece live as done?

Truly depends - but majority of the time - leave it alone and done.   Sometimes I continue messing with a track with effects in Logic - for example...   If you listen to my track "A Dream of Awakening" off of sleepMODE
http://relaxedmachinery.com/releases/rm_0009-relaxed-machinery-artists-sleepmode/ (http://relaxedmachinery.com/releases/rm_0009-relaxed-machinery-artists-sleepmode/)
John Koch-Northrup - A Dream of Awakening - from sleepMODE - scroll down for track player

The piano track started with that short little melody idea...  I played it through once finding the right notes to go with it.  I played it maybe a couple more times fishing out the right things...  hit record - I think I messed up the first take (I think Peanut, my dog, came in wanting to go outside if I remember right) ... I came back - and the 2nd take was the "right" one.  I didn't record a 3rd.  Something was just "right" and I stopped and that was it.

But then...  I wanted a copy of the piano - so I copied it in Logic - and then popped on some delay.   Liked it - copied it again - put on some massive delay, reverb, pitch shift stuff - dropped that more into the background.   Made a 4th copy and obliterated the heck out of it with distortion and fuzz...

And finally - added the underneath "noise" - which was my juno 106 - a noisy patch into a pair of feedback loops that crossfed each other into a noisy nasty Alesis Wedge reverb and my trusty Korg SDD-1200 dual delay.   The "rushing" sound - the changes to it - are entirely me controlling the amount of feedback on the mixer.

So - was that extensive editing?  Don't know ... but that's kind of typical for me.   Some very close to raw improv - some planned - some editing.

rM.ning post:   http://relaxedmachinery.ning.com/profiles/blogs/hardware-software-or-both

Title: Re: Ambient Effects Tips
Post by: jmars on March 28, 2011, 06:27:39 PM
Been away from the computer for a couple of days, but I wanted to return to thank you all again for all of the advice.  During my absence from the forum, I had a chance to play with some of the ideas presented here at my friend's studio.  We used a simple string sound on the Korg X50 synth and ran it through the Korg AM8000R unit I referred to earlier.  We tried effects such as Stereo Modulation Delay, Stereo Chorus/Flanger, Ensemble, and Stereo Phaser into Hall Reverb.  The results were interesting.  This evening I'm going to start learning how to use the LFO's in some of my VST's.  I want to thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my query.  It's a good example of how eager those who enjoy this genre of music are to help one another.  It really means a lot to me.