Author Topic: How the heck do you do it? Creating ambient music  (Read 3537 times)

Castleview

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Re: How the heck do you do it? Creating ambient music
« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2018, 09:21:19 PM »

1. Do you typically just experiment until something "clicks" and you feel inspired? Or do you typically have a aural version of a vision that you're trying to bring to life?

2. If you use synths, do you typically start with a preset and then modify it? Do you start from scratch (e.g., with basic oscillators) and build from there? I assume there isn't a "one way" you do things, but what are some of the common roads you follow?

3. Building on the last question: If you work with synths, do you typically stay within that local synth environment? Or does your final sound emerge as a result of chaining a source through multiple plugins/effects? (If the later, do you "futureproof" it by saving those sounds separately and banking them? Or is that typically not necessary?)

4. I assume there are some things in your arsenal that are "must haves." For example, I've read about the way many of you revere certain reverb plugins, like Valhalla. What are some of your essentials--hardware or software?\

5. Sometimes people say things that imply that the quality of your gear is less important that what you can do with it. The implication is that, with the right mindset, knowledge, and talent, it is possible to produce some amazing soundscapes. But, I must confess, some of the more pricey tools out there would seem to give users a huge advantage. Is that perception the result of being new to this? Or is it, in fact, worthwhile to drop a few dollars on some strong "bang for your buck" style synths/modules?


I'm one of the least experienced here but I'll give it a crack. I started out knowing a lot less than you do about making music.

1. I try to go in with an idea for a soundscape but usually, I end up with something completely different by the time I finish recording. Just about everything I do is experimentation and refining those experiments into compositions.

2. I start with presets and then tweak them quite a bit. Sometimes, I stay fairly similar to the original preset while other times, it's unrecognizable from where I started. Usually, it's the latter.

3. I process everything I play to some extent or another, not just synths. I always try to do more than just use soft synths. That's why I use guitars, zithers, kalimba, and anything else I can record.

4. For software reverbs, I use ValhallaRoom, Eventide Blackhole and MangledVerb, and Toraverb. I also use hardware processors and pedals like my TC M300, Alesis Nanoverb, Dwarfcraft ARF, MF Boost, Mr. Black Supermoon, IE Nimbus, and several fuzz pedals.

5. Do not fall for the beginner's trap of buying new gear thinking that it will make or break your sound. I've fallen into this trap to some extent myself. Get one new thing at a time and try to tap into its full potential before you buy something new. Get a few soft synths (or one good hardware synth would be even better), a good reverb plugin, a delay plugin, an EQ, and a DAW and you can make ambient music. A good reverb will take you a long way though.

Also, definitely go for gear that give you more bang for your buck whenever possible. 
http://castleview.bandcamp.com/
New album, Desolation, available now.

chris23

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Re: How the heck do you do it? Creating ambient music
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2018, 07:16:01 AM »
Thanks, Castleview!

Regarding the generative question, I experimented with Reaktor Blocks and a few other tools/tricks (e.g., Scott's I-Ching suggestion). Reaktor Blocks was crazy, super fun, but ultimately wasn't quite what I was looking for.  (I only tried the free version, however.) In the meantime, I've settled comfortably into a "hacked" way of doing things: Producing samples, exporting them out of the FL Studio environment and into a program I wrote that (quasi) randomly triggers and modulates them over time, and then importing that composite sound file back into FL Studio for further tweaking and processing. This seems to work okay, even if it involves a lot of back-and-forth.

I've noticed that my music buying has diminished because I'm more likely to spend my late evenings with a beer and my novice studio now than a beer and some good CDs.  :(  Is this something that you've observed yourself? I've often wondered how the process of creating music affects the way one consumes it. When I listen to albums now I'm not only trying to get lost in the mood of the music, but also analyzing and dissecting it in a very clinical manner. Although that later process can be fun, it does kind of kill the mood in some ways.



Castleview

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Re: How the heck do you do it? Creating ambient music
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2018, 12:23:53 PM »
Thanks, Castleview!

Regarding the generative question, I experimented with Reaktor Blocks and a few other tools/tricks (e.g., Scott's I-Ching suggestion). Reaktor Blocks was crazy, super fun, but ultimately wasn't quite what I was looking for.  (I only tried the free version, however.) In the meantime, I've settled comfortably into a "hacked" way of doing things: Producing samples, exporting them out of the FL Studio environment and into a program I wrote that (quasi) randomly triggers and modulates them over time, and then importing that composite sound file back into FL Studio for further tweaking and processing. This seems to work okay, even if it involves a lot of back-and-forth.

I've noticed that my music buying has diminished because I'm more likely to spend my late evenings with a beer and my novice studio now than a beer and some good CDs.  :(  Is this something that you've observed yourself? I've often wondered how the process of creating music affects the way one consumes it. When I listen to albums now I'm not only trying to get lost in the mood of the music, but also analyzing and dissecting it in a very clinical manner. Although that later process can be fun, it does kind of kill the mood in some ways.

Becoming a musician made me appreciate my influences that much more. I started noticing that their compositions were more intricate than I realized. But yeah, it does cut into my listening time somewhat. I definitely listen to more music when I'm not recording.
http://castleview.bandcamp.com/
New album, Desolation, available now.