Tag Archive for Ambient


So, it’s… 2017 somehow, close to a full year without posting here.  Suffice it to say, I’ve been working on many other projects, which were not particularly music-related.

One thing I did work on, recently, was another alarm clock project.  These days, like a lot of people, I use my cellphone as my alarm clock.  However, the default ringtones all kick in immediately when the alarm triggers, creating an abrupt sort of sound that jolts me awake.  I wanted to create a custom sound, the kind that’s pleasant (to me) and eases in gradually, but eventually gets loud enough to make sure the alarm is effective.

This track is the result.  I’ve also included the download for the iOS ringtone version of it (sorry, I don’t have an android device, so if you want to use it for one you’ll need to convert the MP3 version yourself).


Ringtone Version

Acoustic Rain (tablet experiments)

An experimental album of music played/sequenced live and recorded on my phone/tablet using various music apps.  All songs here are the first “live” draft, and may be corrected/reprocessed later.  Generally ambient synth/rock sound.

1. Barbecuew (created by… my voice, primarily)


1. An Unpopular Lactobacilli (created in Beatwave)


2. A Vaguely Popular Lactobacilli (created in Beatwave)


3. RainA (created in Rockmate)


4. Yergi (created in Rockmate)



An ambient experiment involving several different sound sources, including time-stretched samples of city and construction noise alongside several different temporally varied versions of a field recording I did of walking around in a rainstorm with a creaky umbrella.  It also features some Logic loops to complement the sound and the grinding, serendipitous feedback glitching that resulted in some of the samples as part of the stretching process.  There are also some custom-tuned reaktor sound generators and several drum loops processed through ringshifters and granular synthesis.  The result of all this?  Well, it’s a sort of ambient/illbient weird thing that I guess could be somewhat relaxing (well, once you get through the grinding feedback-laden introduction, at any rate).


Slicing/Percolating City

As you may know by now, I’m quite a fan of the democratizing nature of technology in terms of music creation, and the proliferation of tools designed to make creating music fun and accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.  An application that I came across recently, Isle of Tune for iOS, definitely fits the bill: it’s a simple algorithmic sequencer cleverly disguised as a city-building sim.  You lay out roads to define the sequence, buildings and scenery placed alongside generate nodes and effects, and cars on the road serve as the “pulse” to trigger the sounds in sequence.  The program gets more interesting, though, when you realize that the cars can travel at different speeds, in different directions, and that the roads can be constructed to be far more than a simple loop or linear sequence.  This makes the program great for exploring Reich-esque phased patterns, and makes for some surprisingly unique musical opportunities.

Below is the sound of a couple of cities that I designed, although I’m currently working on some that are far more complex…



Nodebeat Meditations

While it’s not something I’ve written about much on this site, one of the things I’m very passionate about is the idea that anyone, regardless of training or education, should be able to experience the joy of creating music. To that end, I’m always interested in technological innovations that can further that goal. Technology has already progressed immensely from where it was when I started making music with a simple notation program and General MIDI sounds – today, you can have everything from multiple racks of synthesizers and effects to the equivalent of a full symphony orchestra at your fingertips on a single computer. However, while this world of possibilities is great for a professional or advanced amateur with years of training, it’s not particularly accessible. Because of this, I’m always interested in alternate methods of creating music that don’t require advanced knowledge of a complex DAW user environment. These tools are usually simpler, but have a considerable amount of creative potential, often paired with an interesting and easy-to-use interface.

The first program I experimented with in this vein was Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS – the song Planktonic Variations was recorded live using it. This song is created via a somewhat similar program on the Mac, called NodeBeat. It works by placing musical nodes that are networked together with essentially pulse generators – depending on the distance from the generator to the node, the sounds are played in different sequences. By moving the generators and nodes around in real time, you can create fairly complex variations.

This particular song is a live experiment using the program. It’s definitely an ambient-sounding piece, something that I’ve found the program excels at. This tends to be the case with many of the current programs of its type, as playing around with sound is easier within that sort of context (due to the fact that you’re not trying to sync everything to a particular beat or style). While the program does have some limitations in the sounds it can produce (and while it would be nice to be able to load external sounds or samples into its interface), I think it’s definitely a worthy entry for people who are interested in creating music without the complex learning curve creating digital music might otherwise require.