Author Topic: Ambient Guitar  (Read 14869 times)

petekelly

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Ambient Guitar
« on: April 14, 2008, 09:11:54 AM »
The electric guitar as the primary source for creating ambient music seems a tad overlooked.

I agree with Alan that it can be the processing that makes the sounds interesting, but not
necessarily just a bit of scratchy, glitchy jiggery-pokery kind of thing. The software available now
can really transform the source sound - naturally, it helps if people play something interesting in
the first place ! All manner of looping, granular synthesis, spectral manipulations and the like
allow for a lot of scope.

I was pretty much introduced to ambient by Eno's music, so I initially thought it was all treated
synths and Rhodes Piano, but I discovered lots more.

For me one of the most evocative 'ambient guitar' styles is David Sylvian's volume pedal / tremelo
arm combination. 

I've used electric guitar as the primary sound source on almost every one of my albums and I'd like
to develop some guitar ideas further - I'm working on a technique to get a kind of a Harold Budd
'sound' on the guitar and am still working on various ebow techniques.

Interested to hear people's thoughts.

cheers
Pete K

SunDummy

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2008, 10:43:49 AM »
I agree, the guitar is overlooked in this genre; waaaay too much reliance on synths. 

The majority of sounds on SunDummy tracks were created using guitars, although you'd be hard-pressed to identify them as such.  I love how 'organic' guitar samples can be, especially when used as the basis of loooong drones.  There's a rawness to the soundwave that just can't be created with synths:  the way it fades in and out, the oscilating overtones, strange reverb trails after fingers scrape strings, etc.  Chords sound so much richer too, for the same reasons.  And when sampled, layered, and looped, the richness of the resulting sonic stew can be astonishing.

Maeror Tri (now Troum), Rafael Toral, Windy & Carl, Stars of the Lid:  all these guys have a distinct, unique sound because of the guitars; with synths, it just wouldn't be the same.
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Wayne Higgins

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2008, 11:41:38 AM »
 8)
So, I'm a "Sr Member", huh?  In June it's SENIOR DISCOUNT TIME!!!
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jkn

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2008, 12:03:11 PM »
I think we're just in a personal taste discussion...  synths, guitars, cellos, trumpets, pianos, etc... can all be amazingly expressive hamonically rich instruments in the right hands... :)

A guitar can easily be washed out so much as to sound like a synth (and vice versa).   I've messed my bass up enough for people to assume I was playing synth... :)

Acoustic instruments can have a tremendous amount of personality that a synth doesn't naturally have - for example - the harmonics in a piano or guitar can definitely go beyond a synth and the expressiveness possible in a piano or guitar goes way beyond the typical synth keyboard - but a synth can do things a guitar or piano can't dream of.   It really goes both ways - and once again - falls back to a personal preference thing.   

Chris Short has been somewhat silent for awhile - but the guitar is quite a natural extension of him.    Jeff Pearce I think most people are familiar with on this forum.   I've lost track of what's going on at Dark Duck - but I know he was doing guitar based ambient on a special sublabel of Dark Duck (Dissonance?).   

We have an artist on AtmoWorks that creates all of his music entirely with bass guitar (Peter James) - and Mr. Griffin here at Hypnos central did an entire album on HSS with bass (nifty one). 

Wayne's smiling in the post above because I think all of his music is guitar based.   

Cheers,

John (synth, piano, bass, trumpet player)



John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2008, 12:50:43 PM »
Yep.  Every bit.  Either the Strat or the Sheraton.  A little modulation, a bit of fuzz, sometimes some filtration, and then the loopty loop.

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Joe R

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2008, 03:27:34 PM »
 
The majority of sounds on SunDummy tracks were created using guitars, although you'd be hard-pressed to identify them as such.  I love how 'organic' guitar samples can be, especially when used as the basis of loooong drones.  There's a rawness to the soundwave that just can't be created with synths:  the way it fades in and out, the oscilating overtones, strange reverb trails after fingers scrape strings, etc.  Chords sound so much richer too, for the same reasons.  And when sampled, layered, and looped, the richness of the resulting sonic stew can be astonishing.


This dude knows what he's talking about. If you want a fantastic example of pure, hardcore guitar drone with a million discernable layers, ask SunDummy for a copy of Spanish Moss -an intense sixty-some minute drone-fest that will melt your brain. Or for shorter tracks of different varieties of drone, try Mighty Voids Collide. These discs both belong in the Hardcore Guitar Drone Hall Of Fame.

Dave Michuda

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2008, 08:18:52 PM »
I love electric guitar as a ambient instrument.  I totally agree with SunDummy's thought "I love how 'organic' guitar samples can be".

One of my favorite ambient guitar albums is "one River" by Scott Solter.  A beautiful, slowly evolving recording that rises & falls with guitar washes.  I wish Solter would do a follow up.  I know that there are some "One River" fans here at the forum and there should be more.

samples & purchase...
http://www.tellallrecords.com/catalogue.php?id=3

SiF

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2008, 01:23:24 AM »
Guitar is also my source of choice. And there are quiet many
very talented guitar drone artists out there. Just check out Aidan Baker,
David Tagg or Hakobune to name a few.

I dont want to be annoying, but maybe now a few of you will
be interested, that i own a small label for experimental guitar
music and i think this could maybe appeal to most of you.

www.waterscape.de is the address.


Undershadow

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 03:11:34 AM »

Martin, you have some very nice releases there on Waterscape. Having said that, I only have the first one by Paul Bradley. I need to check out the Jason Sloan, Hakobune and Apalusa - samples sound good.

Now stop being "annoying";D


SiF

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 04:05:33 AM »

Martin, you have some very nice releases there on Waterscape. Having said that, I only have the first one by Paul Bradley. I need to check out the Jason Sloan, Hakobune and Apalusa - samples sound good.

Now stop being "annoying";D


I will from now on. ;D

Joe R

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 02:25:51 PM »
Yes, that Hakobune sample sounds terrific, and the Jason Sloan sounds good as well...
I'd probably order a few of these, if Martin wasn't so damn annoying.

Just kidding! :)
I'll order Hakobune for sure, when it's released.


SunDummy

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 03:09:21 PM »
Hey Joe, thanks for the props!   ;D  I might have to start recording again... ;)
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

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sraymar

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 08:58:09 PM »
I've got a POD and its very suitable for ambient stuff. It'll do auto-volume swells from short to very long swells, very ebowish, and long delays to looping, and if you adjust the delay while its repeating it will glitch nicely too.

I've also made some samples just before changing the strings on my acoustic and classical guitars after loosening the strings, lots of wierdness there, and of course using the guitar bodies as percussion instruments with lots-o-verb. The samples have been tweeked in an audio editor for added strangeness as well. 

I want to start including these sources in my musings.

Steve
Ambient isn't just for technicians!

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jeff pearce

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2008, 08:18:20 AM »
Whether this would matter to anyone playing and/or playing with a guitar- there are a lot of fun things going on "under the lid" of strat style guitars- or any electric guitar that uses springs to anchor the trem.  I've taken the back plate off my strat and have often "strummed" the springs while holding a chord with my left hand.  Spooky, ghostly, and will almost certainly shred your right hand fingernails, so it's beneficial to use a pick for this.

Pete- an ebow technique that *I* have found to be fun is to place the ebow on the fretboard with your right hand- let's say around the 5th fret of the 3rd string.  Then, in the left hand, hold a slide around the 12th fret of the same string, and start moving up and down the fretboard.  All sorts of crazy overtones pop out, and you can switch strings, etc...

Jeff

SunDummy

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2008, 10:22:09 AM »
Quote
an ebow technique that *I* have found to be fun is to place the ebow on the fretboard with your right hand- let's say around the 5th fret of the 3rd string.  Then, in the left hand, hold a slide around the 12th fret of the same string, and start moving up and down the fretboard.  All sorts of crazy overtones pop out, and you can switch strings, etc...

Another cool effect:  lay the guitar flat on a table, with the ebow sitting on the strings down near the pickups.  Place a brass slide somewhere up the fretboard, just laying on the strings; let 'er rip.  The vibrating strings will get the slide rocking back and forth (brass slides are never perfectly formed; they tend to be lopsided.  With the 'heavy' side down, it'll stay in one place, but rock back and forth slowly), giving a cool tremelo effect.  Toy with the volume levels, and you can get the whole guitar vibrating with low-level feedback, which just adds to the motion of the slide.

I once saw a guy in Minneapolis ("Lost in Translation") do this on stage; he set it up, then let it play itself for a loooong time.  Really cool sounds, esp. when delayed; sounded like a very minimal Rapoon.
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

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9dragons

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2008, 11:54:09 AM »
Curious to know what you guys think of Fear Falls Burning...I've been slowly getting into He Spoke in Dead Tongues and have had some good listens of it where I really got blown away with how it builds up from raw chaos. Also have Continuum 2, and it has some monstrous goodness in it, but I'm not sure if I'm fully into it...

SiF

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2008, 12:32:58 PM »
I was a huge FFB Fan, but after a while the music was getting
really boring, since basically every drone i know from him
always sounded kind of the same. And i dont like his "Vinyl release
policy". Way to expensive to keep up. Still great music, for sure.

I admire Aidan Baker for what he is doing with the guitar.
Soooo many Albums and never the same. Great. A real master
of the ambient guitar.

Ben Fleury-Steiner

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2008, 09:48:14 AM »
my last record as a means through which I can speak was done almost entirely w/ electirc guitar and is 180 degrees from my previous polished synth effort drifts....

Lately, I've also been getting into some seriously strange preparations for electric guitar using metal objects magnetized to the pickups - all done in real time w/ my furman pedal board filled with hardware stomp boxes a plenty...

I already have a site under my name on myspace, so I posted these works on a separate page - I plan to release the first work : : : ampere : : : under the pseudonym soeng soon...

love to get reactions from pete, sundummy, jeff, martin and the other guitar adventurists out there--what can I say I'm drawn to Keith Rowe and other less traditioinal ambient experimental players--soeng is the outlet for the the total annihilation of the instrument into a textural surface system:

http://www.myspace.com/soengsounds

read the 'about' section for specs on the preparations and check out the slide show to the left for pictures of all the weridness!


uhurit

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2008, 09:55:34 AM »
I am surprised no one has mentioned Pelt yet. Ambient guitar drone at it's finest and sometimes at its harshest, with an occasional touch of surreal folk. Damn!

ffcal

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Re: Ambient Guitar
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2008, 12:54:14 PM »
I have Pelt's Empty Bell Ringing In the Sky.  Pretty intense stuff.  Sort of like early Tarentel on steroids.  Pelt's guiraist Jack Rose has released some really nice solo acoustic work in a post-John Fahey raga-oriented vein.

As for other ambient guitarists, lately, I've been listening to a ton of Peter Wright, with an occasional chaser of Paul Bradley and Rameses III's new one.

Forrest