A Study of Ambient Drone Music

I like ambient drone music and would like to expand my expertise in making such music, so I’ve begun a study of some of what I consider the best ambient drone-type of music. This will be an ongoing collecting of information and you are welcome to check back when it has been updated.

Last updated: 22-February-2022

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Psychic Modulation’s Phonec Synth (vst) Presets: “Boards” – Free Presets

Psychic Modulation has made a synthesizer that combines that “lo-fi” sound with vintage tape and synth type of processing, for a synth that sounds remarkably similar to artists such as Boards of Canada and others of that type.

It comes as a low-cost vst file type of plugin that works in your DAW (digital audio workstation). I use it in FL Studio.

Simple to use and fun to adjust, Phonec2 shatters the learning curve usually associated with many soft synths out there today. I like it in my music because it gives me the sounds I need that fit my genre.

I have made my sound bank of presets for Phonec version 2 available to everyone that owns Phonec2.

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Boards of Canada Chords and Variations in Xfer Records Cthulhu – Free Chord Presets

Listen to the chords in the video above.

Some of what makes Boards of Canada’s songs (or for that matter, any artist’s songs) interesting for me are the chords. If you know the chords, you can get a feel for how to make your own song sound similar or “in the flavor of” so to speak. From the chords, you can often get a melody you like by building off of them or playing along with them. You can even arpeggiate them.

I took the chords from Boards of Canada songs and put them into Xfer Records Cthulhu. From Cthulhu, you can make variations, add low notes, and change to major/minor/suspended. This gives a lot of inspiring chord progressions from some of my favorite Boards of Canada songs. I put them into a zip file of chord presets that you can use in Cthulhu for yourself (see below).

Updated: 1/5/22

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How to Replicate Biosphere’s Shenzhou Track Using Loops and a Few Effects

I like Biosphere’s (Geir Jenssen’s) music very much and one of my favorite albums is Shenzhou. The album is made up of repeated looping of Debussy orchestral track samples. The title song is particularly interesting to me as I like the depth and width of the sound. I was able to figure out how to remake it and I’d like to show you how I did that.

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Levels in Mastering for the Various Streaming Platforms (and what happened to the K-system of metering)

Sage Audio and Mastering the Mix both wrote great articles on the levels required for the various streaming platforms so I thought I would share these as this is a common concern for music producers. I’ll also tell you how I am rationalizing my mastering.

First, the link to this great article by Sage Audio: https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/mastering/mastering-for-streaming-platform-loudness-and-normalization-explained.php.

Mastering the Mix has an equally excellent one here: https://www.masteringthemix.com/blogs/learn/76296773-mastering-audio-for-soundcloud-itunes-spotify-and-youtube

(I also don’t use the K-scale or K-system any more thanks to the inventor of it, Bob Katz himself. Scroll to the bottom to see why.)

Updated: 12-November-2021

Here is how I am currently mastering my music:

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Intervals and Chords

Intervals in music are important for understanding the sounds of chords and dyads. Even melodies can benefit from a clear understanding of intervals. Unfortunately, a lot of the information I have found out there is confusing. I’m trying to unravel it for myself and you may get something out of it as well.

Last updated: April 23rd, 2021

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On Musical Loops

Making music with loops is not a new process. However, after thinking about it, I was surprised at how many different ways there are to loop samples to make music. I’ll add to this as I discover more, but the list is long right now.

Last updated: 26-December-2020

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TAL Sampler Presets with a Boards of Canada Sound – Free Presets

I have been building presets for TAL Sampler for awhile and thought I would share some of them that I particularly like. These have a sound that reminds me of Boards of Canada. I even named a few with telling names based on Boards of Canada tracks and titles.

They are free for you to use in your commercial works. Yes. Free. (Not that you would, but please don’t resell them or anything crazy like that.) You can download them in one Zip file (see below).

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Modartt Pianoteq Piano Presets (FXP files) – Free Presets

I use the Modartt Pianoteq vst plugin as one of my main piano instruments and frequently modify or create new presets. This is my page for sharing those presets in the form of FXP files (.fxp).

Updated: 1-June-2021

I have used many piano vst plugin instruments and have a page dedicated to that: Getting Authentic Piano Sound in a VST Plugin and DAW

In the post below, I have provided all of the presets that I am using and what each sounds like. Feel free to download and use these as you like.

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Getting Beautiful and Realistic Sound From a Piano Simulation

Simulating a Real-World Piano


After having been to Budapest and found an 1896 C. Bechstein piano in the lobby of The Continental Hotel, I’ve learned much more about how I can make the same sound of it or any other piano within Pianoteq or via other vst instruments and effects. But, in fact, I aim to make it sound even better. Here’s what I have learned so far.

Last updated: 04-October-2019

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The Music Process: Getting Started

Wondering how to get started making music? It’s not hard and I can tell you what I did. Read on and you’ll be able to know my experiences and can adapt these ideas for your own.

My background is not music. For me, I had a little piano experience when I was a kid, but that was it (and not really very useful in itself.) I just, in the last few years, had this need to make music. A desire. I wanted to make music. Somehow.

So I did. Here’s how:

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Brian Eno’s Sound

Brian Eno is, to me, the undisputed king of ambient music. He coined the term, “ambient music” in his groundbreaking album “Music for Airports.”

Here I will revel in his sound-creating process and offer some captured bits of what I know of it – not as an attempt to deconstruct, per se, but more as an aspiration to his greatness.

As I learn more, I will post more, and update this one.

Last updated: 1-March-2019

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Deconstructing Hans Zimmer’s Sound and Music

Cinematic music is fascinating to me. It moves the story of the movie along and the movie itself is nothing without it (at least it is a completely different movie).

I’m interested in deconstructing the sound of cinematic music and Hans Zimmer is one of the composers at the forefront.

Here I have assembled what little I have learned about Hans Zimmer and his music.

Last updated: 4-February-2019

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Spitfire Audio’s Gwylim Simcock Felt Piano Microphones

There’s not a manual with the Gwylim Simcock Felt Piano by Spitfire Audio, so here are my notes about the microphones used to record this wonderful piano. This piano is excellent and I highly recommend it.


Microphones recorded the sound with Neve pre-amps and Cranesong AD converters at 96k. In the interface, the microphones can be involved more or less by sliders with letters beneath them. Here are what those letters mean:

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Deconstructing the deadmau5 Sound and Music

I really admire deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) and his excellent music, including his use of chords and arps. He has a knack for it. I’ve watched him create on Masterclass and he just absolutely knows what he is doing. Moreover, he seems to be a guy who is limitless in his thinking while still knowing what he likes and dislikes. He doesn’t put out a ton of crap that is not up to his standards. Admirable.

Well, I wanted to know more about his producing talents, so I deconstructed some of his music, his chord progressions, and arpeggios. I’ll be adding more as I learn more, so stop back and check the “last updated” text below.

Last updated: 1-February-2019

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Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Rights to Children Album Cover Blurred Faces

The Boards of Canada “Music Has the Rights to Children” album cover.

The blurred faces on the album cover of Boards of Canada’s “Music Has the Rights to Children” evokes an old, nostalgic, feel.

While the album cover may have been intentionally blurred (it is not known for sure), the same blurred face effect can be seen in old television commercials on VHS tape.

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Fracture Sounds Woodchester Piano Presets (Kontakt Snapshots only)

Fracture Sounds makes an outstanding Kontakt instrument called Woodchester Piano for NI Kontakt.

Listen to it here:

These below are presets, or as Kontakt calls them, “snapshots” that are various settings of the Kontakt instrument. These are NKSN (.nksn) files that need to be placed in your Kontakt snapshots folder for the Woodchester piano.

You must own the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt and also must own the Fracture Sounds Woodchester Piano Kontakt library/instrument in order to use these Kontakt Snapshots.

I have used many piano vst plugin instruments and have a page dedicated to that: Getting Authentic Piano Sound in a VST Plugin and DAW

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