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.
Using a reference track when mastering is a kind of standard practice, but it can be done much better with the wonderful EQ matching functions found on so many equalizer plugins. Here’s what I’ve tried and how it’s worked out for me.
I chose to analyze a Kush After Hours video by UBK/Gregory Scott because I seem to follow his type of mixing style already and he delineates how he does his. I broke it down step-by-step for my own understanding.
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.
In general, you should not expect to make much, if any, money from music. Do the music for you and not for anyone else. Don’t do it for the money because that is a really rough road to travel – and it leads to poverty (in my opinion).
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).
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.
It may seem strange to want background noise in a recording, but it gives it a certain realism as opposed to the cleanliness of a digitally-mastered DAW creation. I like the sound I hear in the background of Susumu Yokota’s Saku from his Sakura album, so I was able to replicate it using common pink noise and equalization. Here’s how:
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.
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.
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.
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).
For the aspiring tape loopers out there, I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that we’d all like to have the time to play around with splicing tape into loops and recording through a four-track. But when this is not possible, here’s an easy alternative right in your DAW.
It is easy to be a perfectionist, for me. I like things to be just right and as near perfect as I can get them. This extends well into music and my production of it (or lack thereof). But it doesn’t have to be this way.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Modes can add interest and really shape a musical piece so knowing the modes and what each is noted for is a good thing. I come back to this post quite often when I am composing so I can choose a mode.
There are a lot of ways to measure the levels of sound in your music production. Meter scales vary widely, and there are many misconceptions about what are the correct levels. Here below is what I have found currently works best for me.
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.