Mindspawn Guide To Creating Dark Ambient Music – pt. 3

Welcome to the third installment of the Mindspawn Guide To Creating Dark Ambient Music. Today we’ll cover the final bits of necessary hardware that you need to start doing dark ambient music. Those who have been following along thus far might recall the hardware we covered last time; black t-shirt, computer, high end microphones, and distortion device.

The complete list is included below for anyone who missed it before:

  • At least one black t-shirt. Preferably vintage.
  • A computer, preferably vintage, with massive amounts of lifting power (dark ambient is very heavy).
  • At least 3 extremely high end microphones, preferably vintage, maybe costing as much as $50US.
  • A minimum of one vintage distortion device.
  • A massive analog modular synth with lots of lights. Preferably vintage.
  • A few dozen softsynths to ridicule, each costing a minimum of $50US. Preferably vintage.
  • At least one hardware synth with a keyboard. Preferably vintage.

Today the focus is on the final three bits of necessary kit. Namely a massive analog modular synth, softsynths, and a hardware synth.

You must have a massive analog modular synth. Please don’t be daunted by details like not knowing what synthesis is about. Most of all, this is to provide the right kind of ambience in your studio or at a live performance. It must have a lot of lights. It will be your main light source when working in the studio or at a gig. Without adequate lighting you could severely injure yourself or others.


Now we’re properly lit….


It’s not necessary that you understand how to make sound with the analog modular, it really isn’t necessary that it makes sound at all (we’re getting to the sound maker shortly). You should spend a good part of your budget on this piece. It needs to be pretty huge if you want to potentially create a dark ambient hit. There’s a reason so many dark ambient artists use modular synths. The lights help them see the music. This is especially true at live gigs. Ever see a dark ambient artist on stage hover over their analog modular? They are desperately trying to see their crib notes, and or lyrics, for the performance. Hence, without enough lights on the modular, this becomes impossible and you’ve likely blown the gig! Invest in those analog modular lights!!!

Your analog modular should also be old, vintage of course. Almost all the great dark ambient artists use vintage analogs. However, you might need to add a few lights as older synths sometimes have a dim light or two. Sometimes buying an extra module, even a new module, just to add more lights will be necessary for safety. Spouses and significant others often do not entirely understand this. That’s okay, this is art.

You’ll also need a few fairly expensive softsynths that you won’t actually use In all likelihood.


Perfect vintage soft synth.


You don’t even need to bother installing them. They are for ridiculing with your dark ambient peers. Again, quality counts here, so don’t skimp by just getting freeware, drop some coin. In addition, try and find vintage soft synths on eBay or something. It’s especially relevant to have vintage soft synth boxes. The best ones will have manuals  written exclusively in German, Chinese, or Enochian.

If you don’t have an array of expensive softsynths that you pretty much ridicule constantly, almost no one will take you seriously. That leads to lost sales and soon you’re on the street with former dark ambient superstars…. Remember Satan’s Juicebox? No? He refused to ridicule soft synths, and it was rumored he actually used them. Consequently, one night he’s on top of the dark ambient world, massive tour, lots of money. The next day, completely obscure, unknown, almost as if he never existed. I heard he ended up working on the dark ambient cruise ship circuit… (editor’s note: Satan’s Juicebox actually teaches dark ambient at an inner-city private pre-school as of this writing).

The final bit of gear you need is a hardware synth. This is definitely your main gigging tool.


This is what you want. Vintage and broken keys to the right.


It needs to have a keyboard with at least one intact key. Make sure if it only has one intact key that it exists on the left end of the keyboard. That’s money right there.


Note the broken keys on the left. Probably best to avoid if possible, but note the single key to the far left…. still usable on a budget.


While you might still be able to pull off some sounds on the right side of the keyboard just don’t expect too much.

Only one key is needed. As a result, you’ll learn to focus your chi into one finger and stick it… well, I’m getting ahead of myself. It should make some sort of sound, too, although you should learn how to use the keyboard without sound. Finally, it should be vintage if at all possible.

Now, start putting together the hardware with the concepts, and make sure your brain has been well oiled. Yes? No? Good luck in your explorations.


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