Synthtopia

How To Make Ambient Music Without Using Any Instruments

Reader Alastair Wilson shared this video, which explores making ambient music without any instruments, using only effects pedals.

“Who needs synths for ambient music when you have a thumb and some guitar pedals?” asks Wilson.

Here’s what he has to say about the technical details:

Chain is: Unplugged cable, Donner Yellow Fall delay, Eventide Timefactor delay, Eventide Space reverb, Ableton.

Taking the buzzing that you get by touching a cable and putting that through 2 delay pedals and a reverb gives you plenty of control over a drone-y, dark ambient noise. Sliding your thumb up the cable gives a carefully controlled buzz, while tapping it makes a burst of noise. I found that turning the feedback on the Yellow Fall up to over 100% creates a distorted scream which I can use (sparingly and cautiously!). I added that to the Timefactor’s dual delays at 100% feedback which are modulated by an internal LFO, which create some wonderful tones and act almost as voices on their own. Finally, putting this through the Eventide Space’s Black Hole algorithm turns the odd noises into a huge, washy, dark ambient pad.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t go around touching the ends of random cables. If you get hurt I don’t want to be responsible for your stupidity, I have enough of that for myself.