Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Post by reticent » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:55 am

I'm new to Live, ish.. can someone point me in the direction on making a great ambient tune?

I have a cool sounding pad down but what goes into making ambient music? is there percussion? is there a lead? or is it layers of the same pad slightly tweaked?

any help would be great help


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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by david.barker » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:17 am

Hi Reticent :D

I make ambient music,(although mine is dark and sinister and downright creepy,roll on Halloween 2013) Ha,ha!!

But I'm also in the process of working on lighter stuff at the moment,for my next collection :D

But the principles are more or less the same,as follows.

Experimentation is the key! I use Live 8 suite with Reason 6.5 via rewire.Sometime Live on its on,depends on how complicated I go with the track 8O :D

The basic rules I follow are:
1) Sound design (experimentation)
2) Recording
3) Sequencing and arrangement
3) Mixing
4) Mastering

I have stuck to these principles,and they work for me,with a doubt!! Ha,ha

Have a look on Soundcloud,there are a lot of ambient people on there (me included,lol)

Also Youtube, and Wikipedia,plus of course films,dvds etc,as well,to give you a good understanding and/or inspiration :D

Sound- wise,usually pads,reverbs,good percussion,beats,effects,etc,etc all play a part .As well as vocals sometimes,and outdoor sounds ie running water etc,a huge choice to be had out there! :lol:

I also thrash out ideas onto a small white board,(the kind found in colleges etc), first,and that gets me going on ideas.

just have fun,and experiment don't rush in.I been with Live only recently (last year) and with Reason for 4 years and still learning :D

Also remember to have frequent breaks, and make copies of your tracks ( this way,you could have several versions,before deciding on the final one) :D

A good idea is to use an external hard drive.They are quite reasonable to buy these days,put your work on that,or have a copy of it in there ,Back ups are essential!

As you can tell,from my response to your posting, I'm passionate about ambient,stuff lol :D .Please feel free to pop by my Soundcloud page and check out my work ,give you an idea or two,lol) :mrgreen:

Any questions or help,Pm me there or here,and I shall see if I can help you out further,ok

All the best in your new adventure!!!!

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by [art] » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:37 am

the word 'ambient' in regards to music was coined by brian eno... you might look into some of his stuff if you're thinking about getting into it. he's somewhat the grandfather of the genre i guess. particularly his 'music for airports'.

you don't need a lead, or synth, or even ableton to make ambient music. you could record sounds from nature. or play sounds. play the side of a boat. hit a bbq... it could be anything. but i think there's a certain space to ambient music... or it might be a complete sound blanket too.

if u can setup a midi controller and jam out long-form pieces into ableton... i think a lot of it, like any music, is about 'feeling it', as wanky as that sounds. having a sense of the pace of things. when, or when not to make a sound. holding back. randomizing things bit.

in fact Eno's latest record, Lux, is very good, much like Music for Airports in some ways, and worth a listen to get some ideas.

check out Harold Budd too, who has a huge catalogue and many great releases.

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by reticent » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:19 pm

I think my problem is sound design within Ableton Live, I find the preset instruments to be uninspiring.. do any of you have any recommended VSTs for this sort of downtempo/ambient jazzy music?

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by dsu » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:11 pm

If you have Suite, you have Operator which is a very capable software synth once you master it. One of the elements of ambient music is that the composition flows out of the behavior of a particular synth patch. Search this forum for discussion on how to work with Operator.Often very subtle adjustments can have really interesting changes. Also don't be afraid of silence. (see John Cage below).

For inspiration you can check out the artist that Eno was listening to.

Stockhausen - pioneer using electronic sound sources.

Terry Riley - really help to bring back the importance of pulse and concordance while leaving the freedom for things to happen when they happen. Became very interested in tradition Indian music which uses drones extensively.

Steve Rich started out doing really interesting things with tape loops and studied drumming in west Africa.

In particular check out John Cage if you want to get to the heart and soul of ambient music. Eno commercialized the ideas that Cage developed and put them in a popular context. If you have access to a library try and read Silence or A year from Monday. Cage was influenced by Zen buddhism.

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by UncleAge » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:29 pm

I can't tell you how to make music. However, you may find inspiration and some new ideas here quite a bit of the material is downloadable:

Also, in addition to Operator I would suggest digging deep into Sampler. If you get stuck or need some guidance beyond what you find here on the boards you might check Nick's tutorials on both Operator and Sampler to get some fresh ideas.

Good luck.

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:32 pm

I don't wanne really say anything of substance, but: Whats wrong with you people today? You're all being so nice and helpfull...What gives?! 8O

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by Hoffoman » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:23 pm

Rather than asking what you should do why don't you experiment and see what sounds good? Make some effort ffs.

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Re: Ambient/Chillout/minimal

Post by tintala » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:29 am

I listen to lots of inspirational music that I just can't get enough of.. you should check out ROBERT RICH and STEVE ROACH, this will blow your mind on the pure ambient side, also Steve Roach has a brand new album out called TALES FROM THE ULTRA TRIBE you should check it out you'll love it 8O :D ... teve+roach

Also on the more percussive side of Ambient I like to be inspired by the Desert Dwellers, Kalya Scintilla..
As far as production goes, I am really into using sampler and operator as well as Alchemy , Diversion, and Absynth,. Resample these into a 128 and group them and you got yourself an instrument rack that you can select a sound from within the context of you track.

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