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Messages - Gemini Ambience

Thank you to everyone who's contributed to the thread so far.

First some response to comments made:

From Seren:  "One technique passed on to me was to take a sound I like, not too long, copy it into a recorder/DAW so it repeats itself and becomes 1 track (mono or stereo) of, say, 10 minutes (time length is very optional):


then copy this twice and shift them by 1/3 and 2/3 the length of the original sound so you end up with 3 tracks of 10 minutes:

A:  ............/............/............/............/............/etc
B:       ............/............/............/............/............/etc
C:           ............/............/............/............/............/etc"

Thank you! I wasn't sure how to approach composition since most of the trance I used to compose was always in 4/4 and would always develop every 32-bars. But a lot of the ambient and chill music I enjoy seems to not worry so much about rigid parameters locking to a time signature. I'm attracted to the idea of recording long passes per track and tweaking knobs in real-time in overdubs with MIDI and automation tweaks. I will definitely check out the links you posted above. Thank you again!

Julio:  "Drones for me are created in real time.....that is I will create a patch in a synth and start to work with modulation in a way that brings motion within the sound, then add a sequencer or arpeggiator to further shape the sound, then open up an envelope generator......long attack and release......then reverb or not.  Often a sound can become very complex and beautiful that reverb takes the interest away, sort of dulls it and yet that also could be just what is needed.  Say I record what Ive just described as track B in Serens does it interact with track A which has already be recorded with another sound.  This is where it can get really exciting. The very interaction or conflict between tracks can be the creation of drones that did not exist before.  As already said its down to imagination and how the sounds inspire you."

Excellent, excellent advice. This is very helpful!

Immersion:  I'm no stranger to Roach's works; he's one of the main artists I heard when first exposed to space music. :) And you are correct, my initial question is related to synthesis. I enjoy working solely in the synthesis realm at the moment. I have several found sound and field recording collections I've gathered from the past to use in trance tracks, so I'm not too worried about that aspect of creativity. I'm still enjoying learning about the different types of synthesis beyond subtractive. I was hoping there were some tips on how to avoid common mistakes/errors newbies like me will make.  :)

Thanks again so far for the advice, I love it!

Take care,
Does it all focus on the amplitude attack and decay?

I've only studied subtractive synthesis to date, but I know Zebra 2 has some FM oscillators available. I just don't know how to use FM in conjunction with basic oscillator waveforms.

Detuning seems to be a constant in the tutorials I've found over on YouTube, but what else other than softer attack and decay slopes add depth and richness to a drone? Is it the harmonics within the oscillators' waveforms, or can a drone be multiple synths all playing different waveforms simultaneously?

Thanks in advance for any guidance!
But what about approaching your compositions. Do you start with loops or do you do long recording passes on each track?

I'm not sure how much of a pad should be automated by modulation within the synth itself, and how much is manually controlled during overdubs (like playing some chord progressions first, then go back and automate parameters with MIDI controls). All the songs I really like tend to be a nice balance of pure ambience and rhythmic tracks...regardless if there's an actual beat.

Since I'm still learning how to program Ableton better, I was just wondering if there were any native tools that worked well with ambient compositions. I found a very good article on generative music with Ableton. I'll try a test of that tutorial and see if it provides good results.

I do like the idea of throwing away all my trance-related preconceptions, it feels more adventurous that way...but I feel like a total newbie approaching ambient composition. :)

Happy New Year everyone!
Hi Everyone,

I am a returning member to this forum. Haven't really had much time to work on music the last few years due to being laid off in 2009 and attempting to find work in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Didn't work out, so now I'm back home in Pennsylvania.

Just wanted to say hello now that I'm back on the forum. Feel like I'm starting all over again with my music as well as my life. Still have the MacBook Pro running Ableton Live 8. My current favorite synth is Zebra 2 by u-he. This synth is a powerhouse and now that I have loads of time on my hands til I find a new job, I figure I might as well start composing again.

Any tips or advice for a newbie approaching ambient production is welcome. Unlike the trance I used to write, I have no idea how a basic DAW workflow template should look for ambient. Will be searching the forum threads for any good topics or tutorials I may have missed since leaving.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Jim / Gemini Ambience
Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Studio for sale - $800
September 22, 2009, 11:24:18 AM
Hello everyone. Been out of work since February...UE is running out soon and I'm still not finding work. Thus, I need to offer up the following:

If anyone's interested, please let me know!

Thanks for looking,

Quote from: LNerell on October 06, 2008, 05:35:10 PM

You didn't mention if you setup the midi also in Audio/MIDI devices. You need to do that as well with all your midi gear. The C4 doesn't that hookup via USB?

Yes. Going into the Mac's audio/midi section of the system preferences was the first step. I have both the Yamaha and Access both showing as MIDI devices and the audio settings with the NRV10 are correct.

Thanks again for the advice/input!
Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Happy update...
October 06, 2008, 12:45:36 PM I got a call today from my Sweetwater sales rep, Mark.

Long story short, all 3 pieces of gear I got are returnable and I can get either a refund or replace gear at less or equal price. So that being the case, we discussed my basic set-up and what I'd like to achieve. He's going to do some research and get back to me with some options...but i have 24 days left til the return window expires on all 3 pieces of gear.

I'm really glad he called; I emailed him yesterday asking if I could return the Mackie.

So hopefully by the end of this week we'll have found a solution to get my studio completely integrated and operational. I've also looked around Sweetwater to see what gear options are available...and I found one unit that does all 3 of the functions that my current set of 3 items do independently:

Audio and MIDI interfaces built-in, digital mixer, and control surface for Cubase. And it leaves a refund of $1,349.94 to the account, which is definitely good to contemplate.  lol

So hopefully it'll be another week or two til I've gotten the set-up taken care of. But at least I'm making forward progress.  hehe

Will keep you updated. It's definitely a learning process for me...but one I'm enjoying.  :)

Thank you very much for your input. I was even going to try re-routing the MIDI to make it one large loop, and not two loops like the quick start guide suggested.

I'll get back to you once I can try the new set-up tomorrow after work.

Well this weekend I'm still not connected fully; not sure what I'm missing or not doing. I couldn't get the routing to work when I had the Mackie controller hooked up, so I simply ditched it and now have the following configuration:

Audio interface/Mixer:  M-Audio NRV10
MIDI interface:  M-Audio Midisport 4x4
Sequencer: C4
Synths: Yamaha AN1x & Access Virus A

Here's all I've been able to do so far...and I think I'm "almost there"...but still encountering some weirdness:

1. Installed the NRV10 on to my Mac. In the Audio/MIDI devices section of the System Preferences, I have the NRV10 as my audio input/output device set to the main "multichannel" configuration.

2. Connected the AN1x and the Virus to the 4x4 according to the quick card instructions (AN1x OUT to the 4x4 IN / 4x4 OUT to the AN1x IN : Virus OUT to the 4x4 IN / 4x4 OUT to the Virus IN).

3. In Cubase I created a 2-stereo bus template so I have two Input busses coming from the two stereo channels on the NRV10 (5/6 for the AN1x and 7/8 for the Virus) into Cubase. I've followed the C4 manual's instructions on connecting external gear and both synths show up in the VST connections panel as well as in the VST instruments rack as external VST's.

I know I need to set up the MIDI control chain...but not sure how to do it. I'm assuming that C4 needs to be the MIDI master and time source, but I'm not sure how to do this. I'm about to start going through the synth manuals to set them up to be slaves to Cubase...but again, this is all new to me and while I think I understand the connections/routings...I must be doing something wrong yet.

I have 2 audio tracks and 2 midi tracks open in Cubase to control and record from the synths. And while the routing is correct on the mixer, I'm not sure if they're correct in general.

The one puzzle I'm not sure about, too, is latency. When I start playing the AN1x (which I have set as the midi input for both synths) I get instant playback from the AN1x. When I solo the Virus track, however, and start playing the AN1x...I've documented the lag to be 56 seconds from the time I press a key and actually get sound back from the Virus. Any suggestions as to what I'm missing or doing incorrectly?

I haven't even tried recording yet since this lag is wigging me out a bit.

If anyone has any advice...I'm all ears. I'm still reading through the manuals...but as of this post, I'm still kind of stuck.

If anyone is in Philly and would be willing to swing by at some point during the week or next weekend, that would be more than appreciated!

Now I need to see if I can return the Mackie...
Everything and Nothing / Drones
September 29, 2008, 01:35:01 PM
Hey everyone!

I've been meaning to ask this for a while now: can anyone tell me the history of drones becoming a focal point in modern ambient? In addition, what constitutes a "quality" drone versus a "boring" drone?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Nothing can compare...
September 27, 2008, 06:44:12 PM
No worries friend.  :)

I needed to vent, and this is the only forum I'm on that has producers who can not only relate but hopefully help with suggestions.

Since that post, I can happily say that I've read the manual twice (a whopping 25 pages) and it still isn't helping much. I was able, however, to just do the basic "from the ground up" review..and I realized I had not uninstalled my Edirol controller and I did that. I don't know if that would have caused an issue or not...but just to keep it clean, I unistalled the Firewire driver and did a fresh install.

I also forgot that on the Mac it has it's own Audio/MIDI control panel and I was able to go in and make some changes. At least now the master output of the Mac is routed to the NRV10 and I can play audio through it to my monitor speakers...and WOW...this sucker's sound quality is NICE.  lolol

The only issue I'm still having is trying to get the sound from my two hardware synths to come into the mixer and sound through the master out.

At least I've made forward progress...but this manual by M-Audio is almost comical. It has absolutely zero value to someone as "noob" as I am to hardware. But if I can get one of the 10 streams to connect and sound properly through the interface/mixer...I'm sure I'll figure out the rest...would just be really nice to see a manual with a section for complete idiots like myself.

I'm still upset over the Mackie controller arriving with a European power cord...but that's the least of my problems.  lol 

Take care,

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Nothing can compare...
September 27, 2008, 01:14:10 PM
M-audio can bite me.

I followed the installation and connection guide to a "T" - still no sound coming through the mixer; not from the Mac or from my synths.

I give up.  Whoever said Macs make electronic music either lying, or I'm the dumbest person on Earth.
Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Nothing can compare...
September 26, 2008, 10:09:21 PM
To getting new gear...only to open one box and discover the NRV10 arrived with a slider missing a cap, and the Mackie Control Universal arrived with a European power cord.

This is my life...brand new gear...still f-ed up.  :(  I don't care about the slider not having a cap on it...but I now have a $1,500 paper weight til I can get a power cord that actually works with the unit I bought. 

Hi Loren,

I hear ya.

Thanks again for the recommendation on the 4x4; I grabbed one last night along with the M-Audio mixer previously linked/discussed and a Mackie Universal Control Pro mixing controller to use with Cubase:

Ah...debt...   :)

Thanks again for all the input!


Thank you for the recommendation on the Midiman. I've been impressed with M-audio in the past, so I will definitely grab the 4x4.

Why would you say that about Logic? Just curious. I spent too many years studying Cubase and finally got a legit copy when I bout C4, so I'm sticking with that.  hehe

Thanks again!

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the disappearing act...but 1120 deadline is FINALLY past...and work is returning to a human pace.  :)

I'm still open to any gear recommendations; after trying to work with the mixer and the Edirol interface, I realized that the setup just isn't well suited for what I'm trying to do. So I'm going to put the mixer and interface up on eBay once I can replace them.

I'm still very "green" when it comes to knowing quality any product recommendations would be greatly appreciated! To review - I have 2 hardware synths and also use 3 software synths running in Cubase 4 on my Mac. I'd like to set it up so I can record each synth independently into audio tracks in Cubase, while also running softsynths simultaneously. It's torture to finally own a Virus...and just stare at it.  LOL

I'm considering this:

But being such a n00b, I'd really appreciate your guidance on this one. I don't mind if it means saving pennies for several months to's the last step I need to make my set-up "ideal" to what I'm trying to achieve.  :)


What would be the most ideal/flexibile set up for me to shoot for? Since I have a work-around option, there's no need to abandon the gear I have currently...but I don't mind saving and upgrading to something better over the next few months. Any suggestions on improving my set up?

Thanks again!

Thanks again for everyone who has replied!

APK - you are correct about the USB connection between the laptop and the UA-25.

LN - There is a switch to either play the digital in line or the main UA-25 out. When the switch is on, I'm hearing the Yamaha (through the Edirol mixer).

From the few comments left already, I'm starting to fear I have chosen poorly. So it sounds like I need to get a converter box with multiple ins/out.

Any suggestions on a better setup? I don't mind saving for a new piece of gear as long as it gets me functional.  :)

Thanks again!
Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: GOT GEAR?
July 14, 2008, 10:52:37 AM
I have a used Roland MC-505 for sale if you're interested. I'm the 2nd owner of the groovebox and it comes with original manuals and power cord. I also have the RAM maxed out on it.