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Your Production Secrets for Ambient and Drone
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Your Production Secrets for Ambient and Drone
frank1985
I've picked up so many cool tips over the past year relating to the production of these genres, and never get tired of discovering new things and trying out new techniques. So as I've scowered every crevice of the net already i'm just looking for some fresh insight. After all, the best way to learn is not only through your own experimentation, but also from those who are more experienced and have a tried and tested approach the craft.

I'll start with my own contribution, but it's hardly a 'secret' ...

Don't be afraid to go nuts with reverb for the 'rear' elements of the soundscape - bounce, add more layers, rebounce etc...

Hopefully you can share something more profound, and nothing obvious like ''less is more'', ''use paul stretch'' etc.
Koekepan
Think very carefully about the nature of the space that you're attempting to represent, and the soundstage location of the elements in that space. Once you grasp those, you'll be able to decide what your reverb and delay and echo should be doing.
sizone
I usually start by picking the first pitch, then picking the second pitch.
slumberjack
Koekepan wrote:
Think very carefully about the nature of the space that you're attempting to represent, and the soundstage location of the elements in that space. Once you grasp those, you'll be able to decide what your reverb and delay and echo should be doing.


i leave that here with no comment:



Muzone
I think of "ambient" and "drone" as more or less opposite - for me ambient is an open mix of fairly low volume sounds with plenty of room for effects and a lot of "air".
Drone is more of a dense composition with the feel coming from the different sounds "beating" or "phasing" off each other rather than any FX, except perhaps distortion.
I find reverb/delay on continuous sounds just muddles up the mix, maybe a little verb on some subgroups to stage the sound, but certainly not as an overt effect like "blue box" shimmer etc

Anyway, just some ramblings to wake the thread up rather than anything else....
GrantB
From the place between ambient and drone, including a heaping helping of the blue box (not shimmer though):



In this video I had oscillators 3-4 on the Lyra tuned too close to the root and fifth in the base octave, which is the real mud maker and I ended up mostly avoiding those notes. So the ambient tip (well known to the ambient guitar crowd) is to voice your chords extra wide.
timoka
try to compose your piece without reverb and delay first, understand how to create the sense of space with volume, panning and filtering. then add effects to taste at the end, you mostly find yourself using different spaces and way less than if you try to create space by slapping a reverb on a sound at the very start. or you could go outside with a mobile setup and search for the spaces you want, caves, fields etc and rerecord your sounds there, mixed with the natural reverberation plus field recordings. good luck finding your own voice in this oversaturated genre!
CosmicFlight
I like to resample the wet reverb sound into a granular synth
johnnywoods
I really like to get everything going live, so I'll get all my synths doing their thing and then slap a reverb or delay across everything just to give me a feel. I multitrack record each individual sound so I dont have to obsess about the mix or fx yet. Personally, I find this gives me a clearer sense of focus on the big picture of a piece when recording. Later, I'll come back and really fine tune and edit each individual track, usually applying additional filtering, delay, and other fx.
MindMachine
Reverb in the front on each channel. Then H3000 and Lexicon Vortex.
Euro Trash Bazooka
Stop using Strymon and Eventide pedals with ambient and shimmer settings. Everybody does that and they're the equivalent in ambient music to what Clouds turned into when it comes to modular synths.

Also I think mastering the use of silence and subtlety truly is what makes ambient shine.
thevegasnerve
I always play things live with a ton of modulation so things stay interesting. And try delay in various lengths vs reverb so things don't get too muddy for listener. I think its important to have texture, so you don't want things too smooth...
Licudi
timoka wrote:
try to compose your piece without reverb and delay first


Euro Trash Bazooka wrote:
mastering the use of silence and subtlety truly is what makes ambient shine.


thumbs up
JeffBlank
Yes lots of reverb, But the subtle interplay of oscillators beating in and out of sync is amazing. FM patches with slow modulation and oh did I mention, lots of reverb:)

Random generators clocked slow help keep things moving nicely as well
dubonaire
Something I like to do for drone is just be on the edge of out of control feedback.
sparood
Fuck subtlety and careful crafting. Go balls deep and overwhelm with dense layers of pulsating oscillation and crashing feedback. Throw in the deepest bass sounds you are capable of and don't be afraid to get angry. Don't hesitate.
Gyroscope
sparood wrote:
Fuck subtlety and careful crafting. Go balls deep and overwhelm with dense layers of pulsating oscillation and crashing feedback. Throw in the deepest bass sounds you are capable of and don't be afraid to get angry. Don't hesitate.


Yep a little acrimony never hurts. That's what's missing in a lot of those potted plants videos SlayerBadger!
VM
Experiment with distortion/overdrive and using filters that can sound overdriven, even on sounds that you originally set out to sound 'clean'. It can really fatten up the sound and gives the listener a bit more to chew on.

I have in mind the Kith Ruina / Viol Ruina from Noise Eng. and the Bastl Cinnamon. Great modules that can bring a lot of life to a clean, sterile synth sound.
calaveras
I'm obsessed with taking the periodicity of modulation out of perception. Either by using such slow modulations that it does not register, or combining multiple layers of control voltages into one target. Or by using multiple layers of modulation that do not sync up.
Ever since I owned my first phaser pedal I hated that down, then up cycle. But I liked the tone.

Another thing is I usually start with way too much stuff. Then start deleting, cutting and pasting and generally editing the crap out of the material until it is maybe one third or less of what I originally put to tape. (okay not tape, but you know, computer).
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