8. Instruments

a. When you use instruments in your music do you play a real instrument yourself?

Treha Sektori: I play several instruments badly, but I play ’em, myself.

Kammarheit: Most of the time I play the instruments, myself. With the way I create my music, the live recording doesn’t have to be very good. I treat it as I treat my field recordings, by extracting the best parts, manipulate them, and turn them into a playable instrument in my computer. Sometimes I am lucky though, and there is no need for a lot of tweaking.

Pär Boström’s creation: The Shipwreck Device

Aegri Somnia: Yes. I plan to record more guitar-based ambient in the future.

Stuzha: I use many instruments. Hard to tell which is my favourite, but I equally enjoy ‘torturing’ a guitar or ‘hammering’ a synth.

Seesar: Yes. I play all percussion, horns, stringed instruments, re-purposed items, and any instruments I have constructed. Plus, I record my own vocals, whenever possible.

Skadi: I use guitars in my tracks. Furthermore, I own a Korg Wavedrum which might have an approach in one of my future works. I have some experience with other instruments like flutes, violin, etc., but unfortunately, I didn’t master any of them.

Shrine: I used to play various instruments before I turned to computer music, but not anymore. The last time I sampled myself playing real instruments was at some of the recordings for Somnia back in 2008. Now, I play virtual instruments.

Taphephobia: Yes, I play most of my music, myself. I play guitar and sometimes play around with synth.

Ugasanie: Yes, I play myself.

b. If you want to have violin, for example, (or any other instrument) in a song, but don’t own one and can’t play one, is there another option? (some sort of program that will create violin sounds for you?)

Treha Sektori: I’ll try to make a sound like a violin, but with another instrument (favorites to recreate are mandolin played with a bow and theremin).

Stuzha: There are great violins in various VST’s, like Atmosphere, as I remember.

Mebitek: I use some Kontakt libraries that I own (especially from Spitfire Audio).

Seesar: Since my music focuses on employing extended techniques on acoustic instruments, re-purposing items not originally intended to be used as musical instruments, and constructing new acoustic musical instruments, I rarely use simulated instrument samples. That is not to say they are not highly useful, however. There are several banks of excellent instrument samples in various libraries. Many of which are available to be purchased or free to download. Often, free libraries are licensed under creative commons licensing. Whilst purchased libraries are primarily copyright-free. So they are able to be used without additional acknowledgement. Native Instruments provides some of the more widely-used libraries. Ear Monk lists multiple free sample libraries, available for download on their website. Studio One offers their top picks for sample libraries, with reviews to help you select what is best for your compositions. Also, many production companies, such as the BBC, sell sound effects and instrument sample libraries that are exceptionally useful. Research whatever library you wish to use before purchasing, to ensure you get a collection of sounds that will be aesthetically matched with your style and works.

Skadi: Since I work alone, I mainly use specific libraries, like the Quantum Leap Orchestra Gold, to create authentic orchestral instruments.

protoU: Most Kontakt patches have really good sounding instruments. I don’t usually try to crack my head around that. I just try to find the one of the highest quality, and go from there.

Shrine: There are virtual instruments of amazing quality you can play in Kontakt. You can have an entire symphonic orchestra if you want (and can afford).

Sonologyst: I prefer to directly ask other musicians to realize the part, so to have a more natural and warm sounding effect.

Taphephobia: I have a friend who can play cello, harmonica or contrabass. There are programs that do this, of course, but it is not something I do on a regular basis. But maybe in the future, I will never say never. For now, what I do is just for making short samples or synth background sounds.

Ugasanie: You can try to replace the sound with a synthesizer. But, it’s better to find a musician who will agree to help.

Next: Dark Ambient 101: Mastering
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