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How do you start an ambient piece?

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  • Originally posted by aoVI View Post
    That is why we are here: to learn from and help each other along. That, and I am hoping to ride on someone's coat tails.
    I'm pretty sure this is how almost everything get's done. The Mozart's of the world who hear the music in their head, as if taking dictation, are few and far between...



    https://soundcloud.com/ancientrealms

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    • I've consolidated most of the ideas in these threads to a bullet list. Inspiring ideas.....

      Title (based on the name of the title)
      Visual (paint with sound)
      Time Stretch & Analyse the frequency spectrum - base notes on peaks
      Generative & add musical layers, possibly delete previous drones once several musical elements are added.
      Foundsounds & samples with massive amounts of FX
      Listening to random samples and base new work on it
      Synth -> filters -> ramp reverb, delay, and release. Slow tempo. Experiment and record the output when inspired.
      Encapsulate mood & emotion
      Self imposed restriction - cultivating simplicity
      Start with tweaking a pad, then work on chord progressions, 8 bars, time stretch by X factor
      Pad & Granular 'base' layer .. then add
      Theme based approach, decide what sounds & effects capture the essense of the theme. Then work on progression

      I start with field recording or pad then I add musical elements. Sometimes I turn the volume way down or even remove the original 'seed'.....

      Feeling inspired and can't wait to experiment. It's good to have a workflow for a body of work IMO
      Warren
      Last edited by warrendaly; 01-12-2017, 12:55 AM.

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      • OK, this has me thinking pretty hard . First, I'm new to ambient music, coming from blues, rock, jazz, fingerstyle (all guitar.) So I'm really locked into having a chord progression. Knowing the progression, then I know the scales I can play up the neck. That's what I've been taught, and it works in those genres. Now I'm thinking about having the sound drive my playing, not what I know in my head will sound good.

        Also, I'm aiming for "live performance", using a looper and lots of pedals. I don't really have a "style" yet; I"m just getting my feet wet. Yesterday I recorded (on my Boss RC-300 looper) a piece where I started with a 4 chord progression, 8 bars. Then I layered a pleasing (scalar) repeating motif; then a layer of slide used sparingly; then a layer of occasional bonking two strings with a metal object. All this with various huge delays and reverb, some dirt, and a pitch shifter added a 5th above and an octave down on the chords. In the morning today I got up and grabbed a coffee and played the piece while I stared out at the trees, and, amazingly, I loved it!

        So I guess that's my style for right now...... thanks for starting; good thread.....
        Fender Strat; Taylor 814ce; PRS SE 277 Baritone; MXR Custom Comp Deluxe; EHX Pitch Fork; SA LA Lady; Boss FV-500H Volume; Ditto X2 Looper; TCE Flashback Triple Delay; Strymon El Cap; Strymon Dig; SA Nemesis; Neunaber Immerse; Strymon Big Sky; Boss RC-300 Looper; Fishman Loudbox Artist ; Blackstar ID 15:TVP amp.

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        • Originally posted by whispersinspace View Post
          OK, this has me thinking pretty hard . First, I'm new to ambient music, coming from blues, rock, jazz, fingerstyle (all guitar.) So I'm really locked into having a chord progression. Knowing the progression, then I know the scales I can play up the neck. That's what I've been taught, and it works in those genres. Now I'm thinking about having the sound drive my playing, not what I know in my head will sound good. Also, I'm aiming for "live performance", using a looper and lots of pedals. I don't really have a "style" yet; I"m just getting my feet wet. Yesterday I recorded (on my Boss RC-300 looper) a piece where I started with a 4 chord progression, 8 bars. Then I layered a pleasing (scalar) repeating motif; then a layer of slide used sparingly; then a layer of occasional bonking two strings with a metal object. All this with various huge delays and reverb, some dirt, and a pitch shifter added a 5th above and an octave down on the chords. In the morning today I got up and grabbed a coffee and played the piece while I stared out at the trees, and, amazingly, I loved it! So I guess that's my style for right now...... thanks for starting; good thread.....
          Sounds lovely mate!



          https://soundcloud.com/ancientrealms

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          • Huge delays and reverb, check.

            Dirt, check.

            layers, check.

            Staring out window, check.

            Looks like you have all the bases covered.
            :biggrin:

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            • As most of my instruments are very simple sample-driven or acoustic things (like buddhaboxes, electric shavers/vibrators or gongs I usually have to find two or three elements which are in tune with each other or even form chord progressions. I use those as the "skeleton" of my compostions and add more noisy or melodical elements (mostly from synthesizers). Then I usually try to find a structure of chaining/layering all those elements together, write this structure down on paper and practice until I am able to perform it live and/or record it to stereo in one go.

              Obscene amounts of delay and reverb are poured over everything from the very first moment. In 1998 (when I didn't even know that there was a genre called "Ambient" at all) I even recorded an eleven-minute Ambient piece called "Echo." - "Echo?" - "Echo!" (a movie quotation - who knows the movie?) using three different delays and a reverb - no other instruments, just delay and reverb.

              Cheers,
              Bert

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              • I use no standard method to start an ambient track! Sometimes inspiration comes from a natural sound or field recording or something I'm playing on my synth, guitar, etc or a dream!! :-)
                Asterios (Astrofaros)
                https://soundcloud.com/astrofaros
                https://astrofaros.bandcamp.com/releases

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                • ... first you need a brick.

                  Wait? You've heard this one before.

                  Well, then.
                  owner / artist
                  relaxed machinery - organic .: ambient :. techno
                  http://relaxedmachinery.com
                  open creative community: https://ello.co/elloambient

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                  • Originally posted by john k-n View Post
                    ... first you need a brick.

                    Wait? You've heard this one before.

                    Well, then.
                    Please elaborate John

                    As for starting an ambient piece... My answer to that is,

                    with great difficulty, at time...
                    https://soundcloud.com/synkrotron

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                    • For me ... tends to start in a few different ways.

                      + a title
                      + a snippet of a sentence or idea that I've saved
                      + a picture / image / artwork
                      + an album / ep concept
                      + working within constraints - only use gear 'x' and 'y' and see what happens
                      + something that i've been tinkering with on piano a long time
                      + soundscaping / exploring
                      + a drum beat

                      I'm a live player more than a generative or programmer. Most of my stuff is improv over an initial idea. Although I have dabbled in very simple drum machine to synths type "sequencing" (hard to call it that). For example - this is a 5 note fruity loop pushing a few synths. Almost all of it is just those 5 notes - my prophet 600 misfires midi notes on this - so it's a little random - and the juno is very clinical - dss-1 is grinding up a deep low growl.


                      owner / artist
                      relaxed machinery - organic .: ambient :. techno
                      http://relaxedmachinery.com
                      open creative community: https://ello.co/elloambient

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Feinstrom View Post
                        I even recorded an eleven-minute Ambient piece called "Echo." - "Echo?" - "Echo!" (a movie quotation - who knows the movie?) using three different delays and a reverb - no other instruments, just delay and reverb.
                        I like the idea of playing giant reverbs like instruments. I haven't done it too much, but with enough effects in the chain to mess with live I've found it very rewarding. Personally I've used a single synth playing a single note once every so often so there's some audio material to mangle though!

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                        • 01. Find some time - sometimes easier said than done!
                          02. Open up the document file that has the current aleatoric sequence I'm working with.
                          03. Get to it!

                          I'll get back to more conventional songwriting at some point, but it may be a while. The aleatorics are working pretty well for me, though the current sequence I've designed is a bit oddball.
                          Homepage | Bandcamp | SoundCloud | Spotify

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                          • There is no set formula for music- very often, a piece is born out of nothing as soon as I sit down at the keyboard, or pick up the guitar, and start playing... when I find a 'groove' that is working, and I want to preserve it, then I play with it a little until I get it set in my head, and then set it up for recording. Once the first track is laid down, then if I feel it needs it, I add other tracks over the top of it.

                            Music reflects humanity, which cannot be imprisoned in a box or a label for long. Somehow, somewhere, it will always break out of the box. Rivers flow, try damming up the water for too long and see what happens...
                            Last edited by Sonic Bodhi; 09-09-2017, 01:29 PM.
                            "All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us" - Gandalf, Lord Of The Rings

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                            • Originally posted by john k-n View Post
                              For me ... tends to start in a few different ways.

                              + a title
                              + a snippet of a sentence or idea that I've saved
                              + a picture / image / artwork
                              + an album / ep concept
                              + working within constraints - only use gear 'x' and 'y' and see what happens
                              + something that i've been tinkering with on piano a long time
                              + soundscaping / exploring
                              + a drum beat

                              I'm a live player more than a generative or programmer. Most of my stuff is improv over an initial idea. Although I have dabbled in very simple drum machine to synths type "sequencing" (hard to call it that). For example - this is a 5 note fruity loop pushing a few synths. Almost all of it is just those 5 notes - my prophet 600 misfires midi notes on this - so it's a little random - and the juno is very clinical - dss-1 is grinding up a deep low growl.
                              john k-n Nicely done,
                              "All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us" - Gandalf, Lord Of The Rings

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by EggplantPurpleMoves View Post

                                Personally I've used a single synth playing a single note once every so often so there's some audio material to mangle though!
                                Just make sure your reverbs and delays are old and funked up enough, and you'll have plenty of noise floor to mangle.
                                In my case that was an Echolette tape delay from the 60s with a completely crincled tape loop, and a Monacor BBD delay which was cheap and cheerful even when it was new back in the 70s/80s.

                                Cheers,
                                Bert

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