Welcome to the second installment of the Mindspawn Guide To Creating Dark Ambient Music. Today we’re going to cover the gear requirements in a bit more detail. You may remember from the last episode that all aspiring dark ambient artists need the following bits of kit:
- 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.
Let’s examine each of these required bits of gear in a little more detail.
At least one black t-shirt – necessary to balance the dark energies when creating dark ambient music. Regular shirts or long sleeved t-shirts or shirts of any other color simply won’t do. You might think you can ignore this requirement, but you can’t. Trying to create dark ambient with the wrong kind or color of shirt will end up with you just making ambient music. I have actually seen an incorrect shirt type result in inadvertently making pop music. Vintage black t-shirts will greatly enhance the whole effect and are highly recommended for beginners. Even cooler are black Ts with awesome band logos on them. Pants are optional.
A massively strong computer – Dark ambient is very heavy, and it takes a lot of computer power to manipulate it. Don’t scrimp, get the heaviest computer you can find. Remember, vintage is best. The very best ones are those old beasts from the 1950s and 1960s that have those round bits on the front. You may be told you’ll need to punch cards, but that is a myth. You’ll want a full deck of playing cards to be sure, but you should set them on fire instead of punching them. Your music will be much more dramatic with the cards burning. Lots of smoke also aids with ambience.
Three extremely high end microphones – Don’t scrimp on this one, especially if you plan to incorporate method 3, Field Recordings, into your creative process. Yard sales are great places to find vintage mics that were once bundled with old cassette recorders. Those are the very best as they convey an air of mystery unlike any other microphone. Make sure you pay at least $20 each for these. Even if the seller has them at a cheaper price, paying more actually enhances the quality. Paying $50 for one of these mics will maximize its performance potential to the highest levels.
One vintage distortion device – At least one old scratched up, dented and otherwise mangled distortion device is an integral part of your kit. You can sometimes find vintage distortion pedals on eBay selling for upwards of $500. Those are perfect. Get two or three if you can afford to. The cool part is, these don’t even have to function to add depth to you and your music. You just ned to own them.
Next episode I’ll finish covering the rest of the necessary gear, and please, be patient. Do not jump ahead and start trying to create with only part of the gear requirements. Otherwise, no one will take you seriously. It’s imperative that you’re serious or at least that you’re perceived to be.