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drums in ambient music

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  • synkrotron
    replied
    Originally posted by mux View Post
    it's maybe how it's paced out rather than certain timbres.
    Good point

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  • mux
    replied
    Ambient challenge: create a piece purely with percussive sounds; it's maybe how it's paced out rather than certain timbres.

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  • Sonic Bodhi
    replied
    Well said, InsomniousNoise! I tend to feel that ride cymbals, and bell-trees, and other types of light percussion that don't normally draw the focus of attention to themselves seem to work better in ambient compositions- bass drums and snares tend to be louder overall (unless heavily processed, as you said) unless you're using brushes. You can also use djembes and other types of bongos lightly to good effect, depending on where and when you place them. Percussion in ambient can be very effective when done properly!

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  • InsomniousNoise
    replied
    Most of the time, I prefer ambient music to be beatless. I don't think there's anything wrong with using percussion in ambient music, but so often, I hear artists try to mix the two, and it doesn't mesh well (the artists who I think mesh both successful have been Wolfgang Voigt's GAS project, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, and a few of Aphex Twin's tracks). I think the trick to utilizing it well is to make sure that it either blends with the atmosphere, or helps to propel the piece without becoming the focal point.

    For example, I just made a piece that uses a kick and snare, but they're heavily filtered and processed with reverb to blend into the mix. I rarely ever use beats because I prefer droning abstract soundscapes, but in this case, the beats helped to propel the piece forward and create interest for the listener. So overall, I'm not against percussion/drums in ambient music, so long as it doesn't distract from the atmosphere and meshes well with the overall vibe.

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  • Seren
    replied
    Possibly showing my age here - when I first got into 'ambient' - around 1977, it was music without beats and the number of 'genres' was very minimal.
    At the same time artists producing ambient music such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream produced music with electronic pulses (before using sequencers) [KS - Irrlicht and Cyborg] and even drums [TD - Alpha Centauri]
    I do like some tribal music, but I has to hit the spot....and I cant predict what will or wont....
    I also think there is difference between drums used in a periodic and repetitive manner and percussion or other sounds used to create rhythm that does not lock into 4/4 or other time signatures - mirroring the rhythms of things like the seasons, breathing, blood running round the body.

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  • Realm
    replied
    Done well, I think percussion in ambient music can bring a lot to the party. Not just percussion but equally other musical elements that create movement. I like to feel the music is at least going somewhere.

    Thinking about it another way - and I realise this will be very subjective - if you consider ambient music in the purest sense it is, by definition, designed to create ambience and many artists seek inspiration from the natural world which itself contains an infinite array of sounds, some of which are percussive.

    So in short, yeah ... percussion/drums in ambient music is fine in my book.

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  • Sky High Diamonds
    replied
    Some tracks I use drums, others just don't need or want it. I have been adding my own drum beats lately rather than downloading & looping. Actually, I have got very in to the whole percussion thing but I have been mixing it up with music concrete & dark ambient stuff. I think drums can really enhance a track with movement and vibrancy and live drums are definitely preferable to drum machines or downloads (for me), these days anyway! :D

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  • ian
    replied
    i don't see what's wrong with having drums in ambient music. "easily ignorable" is subjective, anyway; if i am putting drums in my ambient stuff then it's usually the same loop repeated over and over again with mild adjustments over time. is this not easily ignorable? there's not a lot of variation to catch the listener's attention and new samples are rarely added, even if the drums provide something that stands out more than the other elements of the track. ultimately it depends on what you consider to be ambient; i can't think of a tycho track without drums off the top of my head but many certainly consider them to be ambient.

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  • Tintala
    replied
    In my humble , modest opinion, yes percussion belongs in ambient if its conducive. Just look at how Steve Roach uses percussion at around 4:00 ish
    https://youtu.be/zCa_NIwJFnQ

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  • aoVI
    replied
    Just a suggestion:

    If you are setting out with the goal of making a piece that could or would fall into the broad category of ambient, don't start with drums as the framework. If the piece feels like it needs or is asking for them, then add them.

    Or conversely, start with a drum beat and then remove it once the structure of the piece is stable on its own.

    I am not suggesting this as a recipe for all ambient pieces, but just in this case or future exercises--seeing what happens.

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  • goro
    replied
    bvsmv, doesn't that depend on what you want the track to do? Ambient music draws on a lot of other traditions, and that affects why drums end up in the track. VidnaObmana and Robert Rich are into Eastern and primitive spirituality, and the drums they use reflect that by mimicking those sounds. Another good example are the chillout-room producers that came out of raves, like The Orb or Heavenly Music Corporation, who used drum machines. The music "suggests" the images that go along with it, and those might be really concrete images, like the techno pounding next door, instead of general ones (landscapes, nature).

    This is what I think about, anyway, when making mixes.

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  • bvsmv
    replied
    It's funny, I haven't been on the forum in a while because my music I have been making has continued to evolve. I just thought, I want to do ambient again, so do I need to make some tracks without drums? You guys are making me go back and forth. I agree, it's hard to do, but drums can definitely compliment an ambient track in my opinion.

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  • goro
    replied
    Originally posted by 3001 View Post
    Originally posted by GaryG View Post
    Originally posted by 3001 View Post
    I have a problem with drums, and not just for ambient, or space, or whatever genre have you. If drums are not tastefully done they end up aging things in a poor way and make them cheesy.
    I guess we're talking about crap 80s snares with tons of gated reverb... Yeah, I can think of recordings ruined by them ('desert' rock band Thin White Rope for instance, great band but the major label recordings certainly had that snare sound...)



    Beyond that though, I think there's a mindset with drums that every pop/rock track must have them in a fairly standard way (kick, snare, hats etc). Obviously guitar rock is pretty formulaic but it seems a lot of songs would benefit from some out of the box thinking regarding rhythm; even just losing the prominent snare maybe.

    I guess the gold standard here is Peter Gabriel 3, no cymbals and much more focus on toms etc.
    Nope i'm talking about modern stuff as well, most of the psy ambient to me turns very cheesy. Not just 80s. I think the problem lies within DAW drums that often use sample packs that are used way too much, and sticks the track within a certain timeframe of when the sample packs and soft synths were used.
    If you take this line of thought far enough, you end up in IDM irregulo-rhythmic territory. My god, the variations that exist. My normal thinking here is that drumlines are either backgrounded or foregrounded, and are brought forward or back depending on the sort of emphasis you want to create. I'm reminded of this track: , the intro sample of which comes from this short BBC documentary: https://soundcloud.com/rogerlinndesi...adio-interview

    The best drumlines for ambient music are unobtrusive as hell. They sneak in and hypnotize. There's a Biosphere set from 2004 in Detroit where he uses two separate, fully articulated drumlines, one panned to the left, the other to the right, over the melody from "The Things I Tell You" and a bassline. But because none of these elements is strong enough to stand on its own the total effect is pure rhythmic ambience.

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  • 3001
    replied
    Originally posted by GaryG View Post
    Originally posted by 3001 View Post
    I have a problem with drums, and not just for ambient, or space, or whatever genre have you. If drums are not tastefully done they end up aging things in a poor way and make them cheesy.
    I guess we're talking about crap 80s snares with tons of gated reverb... Yeah, I can think of recordings ruined by them ('desert' rock band Thin White Rope for instance, great band but the major label recordings certainly had that snare sound...)



    Beyond that though, I think there's a mindset with drums that every pop/rock track must have them in a fairly standard way (kick, snare, hats etc). Obviously guitar rock is pretty formulaic but it seems a lot of songs would benefit from some out of the box thinking regarding rhythm; even just losing the prominent snare maybe.

    I guess the gold standard here is Peter Gabriel 3, no cymbals and much more focus on toms etc.
    Nope i'm talking about modern stuff as well, most of the psy ambient to me turns very cheesy. Not just 80s. I think the problem lies within DAW drums that often use sample packs that are used way too much, and sticks the track within a certain timeframe of when the sample packs and soft synths were used.

    Leave a comment:


  • MetaDronos
    replied
    My humble input to this very interesting discussion - my own track which I call ambient, yet it has drums on its whole length:



    In my opinion, "drum ambient" could be quite legit ambient subgenre...

    Leave a comment:

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