Tag Archives: Ambient


I imagine that most people by now are familiar with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month – the idea being that you sit down, write somewhere around 2000 or so words a day, and try to put together a complete novel in November. I have participated in NaNoWriMo before (in fact, you can find the story that I wrote for it elsewhere on my collection of sites), and have tried some of the various offshoots. I had no idea if this was actually a thing for music (I didn’t actually look it up until just now, but there are apparently some established challenges like this, including the RPM Challenge, February Album Writing Month, and National Solo Album Month).

I did not participate in any of these directly, but the challenge was roughly the same: work on and produce… some kind of sound just about every day, and create an album’s worth of stuff by the end of the month, while at the same time learning more techniques and doing further experimentation and familiarization with my collection of usual (and especially unusual) sound design tools and plugins.  So, I worked on it through the month of November 2018, and now that the month is in the books, I am hereby releasing my NaAlProMo album.

If you want to just jump straight to the music, you can click on the link below to grab a ~100MB zip file containing the music files for the entire album.

Download the NaAlProMo Album

The album itself is definitely in the experimental genre, and contains over 60 tracks of… sound, or music if you’re feeling generous with the term.  It contains everything from quick clips and sequences to full(ish)-length tracks.  The album is focused in part on algorithmic generation, and features pseudo-randomly generated sequences for the underlying melodies.  It also features techniques such as granular and spectral synthesis, among others.

Some of the plugins and program used in the project include:  Dune 2, Z3TA2+, Hourglass, Quanta, Granulizer 2, Grainspace, Reaktor 6, MUnison, Microtonic, Drum Pro, Battery, BYOME, and many more…

While you can grab the archive and check out all of the audio files that way, I wanted to put some of my favorite tracks from the album in this post to stream directly:




audio test project

audio test projectt



fxtesting Edit 2 Export 1















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).


Download as iOS Ringtone

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.


Strange Electroacoustics

Pretty much everything on this track is generated to some extent by Reaktor’s various ensembles. The core of the track is a heavily transformed live playing of Reaktor’s Acoustring ensemble, modified by Traktor effects, and accompanied by a large number of Reaktor algorithmic grooveboxes and sound generators. The overall result is a pseudo-ambient piece with an interesting, pulsating sound that cycles between gentle and gritty. This song was definitely interesting to work with, as it took the original melody line and managed to transform it into something almost unrecognizable compared to the original, but much more interesting.

There are two versions of the track that you can download – the Minimal version, which focuses mainly on the transformed melody accompanied by a couple of generated sounds, and the All-Inclusive version, which includes many additional generators and grooveboxes. The minimal version is good for listening to the essence of the track, while the all-inclusive version has a much fuller sound.





Alchemist/Dark Alchemist

A short while ago, Camel Audio was offering one of those nifty “pay what you want” deals for one of their sound sets, which came with a fairly versatile software player for them, along with some default sounds. I was playing around with some of the arpeggiation presets that were included, and found that one of them made for some very interesting sequences, and I just started playing with it live. I happened to record one of the takes, and this is the result. Not a very interesting story to be sure, but sometimes you just start playing around with various instruments, and suddenly you find inspiration.

Dark Alchemist is a continuation of the series started with Alchemist, and is another, somewhat more random/dissonant take on the sequence.