Postcards from slow places - a lines compilation of long-form ambient music


Hey, I’d love to contribute something, and I’m very interested to hear the compilation. Thanks!


Nice to have you in @Rhialto @rycolos and @NorthWoods

Oh that’s good to know, makes sense.


Just finished tracking my piece, at a comfortable 38ish minutes. Sorry if it’s too short.


Don’t worry, I’m planning to PaulStretch the whole thing 128x anyway :thinking:


Y’know I had thoughts about how to make changing drones for the background by doing stuff like that, but I really REALLY didn’t want this to be “Long for the sake of Long”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any hate for that kind of tool, and it can be great for statement pieces and fascinating textures, but there are also a lot of tracks that just seem long for the sake of it, if you know what I mean? I wanted everything to be purposeful, and turns out my attention span for one piece of music is around the half hour mark.


Yeah I know what you mean. I guess actually listening to it through is a good way to keep this in check, kind of limits things at least to your own attention span.

I have actually used Paulstretch quite a bit in the past! more though for sound design purposes. Now I think of it more as a form of algorithmic composition - just on the micro-scale.

Interesting interview here btw:

“So basically I model the musical sound as a collection of “harmonics” and each “harmonic” is composed from many close frequencies with random phases (like you do a bandpass filter of a noise to get one “harmonic”). This idea models very closely the sound of ensembles (like large choirs, orchestras, etc)”


Back to the drawing board for me, lol.


I have been working on my track, and things are progressing pretty well! I’ve mixed two things together–a long droning note with a lot of harmonics and modulation, and a glitchy random generative thing that is sort of in-key with the first thing.

I’m liking the overall space of things and the mix I have, but I’m having a bit of a problem with the prominence of the pitch of the long droning note–when I’m listening back I feel like it is too prominent and it gets boring. Cutting the tonic with a high-q eq notch didn’t really help, because the note is pretty big and has a lot of harmonics all over the frequency spectrum. Wondering if anyone might have ran into this before and worked out a cool way to build some variance and interest to something like that (after it’s recorded)


I’ll do a long track for this.

You can make flac files pretty lengthy under 600 meg… I managed to get one to over 3 hours:



Just to sympathise… I often wonder the best way to temporarily thin out a constant sound. Normally its a synth sound which is just a bit too solid and full on.


@Zedkah @jlmitch5

Some ideas on “thinning” sounds:
-Work the stereo field. I use Nugen’s Stereoizer, but it can be as simple as duplicating the track, panning each opposite the other and applying slightly different effects or eq to each channel. Stereo sounds seem much less “persistent”, as they sound more natural, and the brain naturally starts to tune out natural persistent sounds after a while. Ever been walking in the city and not thought about the noise of traffic until you get back into your car and everything is so very silent? Yeah, well that.
-Side Chain Compression. We usually think of this to get a track “pumping” but it can be a very natural-sound way of introducing some variance into the amplitude or volume of a track, you can have drones naturally affected by anything else in the mix, give it a go!
-Notch Filter. My love affair with band-rejection filters started when I was mastering and I read an article about people cutting very narrow frequency Qs out of entire albums. Sometimes due to no fault of the composer, you end up with a lot of instruments that end up emphasizing each other’s most annoying frequencies. This is most common in the low mids, especially if you’re layering synths that have all gone through similar Low Pass Filters so may not have much higher harmonic content. Rather than lowering a whole section of the spectrum, try cutting out a much, much narrower portion. Set up a -24db narrow Q on your parametric eq and try sweeping it through the frequencies to find one that makes your sound less overbearing, then bring up the gain of that frequency slowly until it sounds natural (or not. sometimes I leave it totally cut out).


Some thoughts: -

  • Create additional versions with slow filter sweeps baked in
  • Use a granulator to add in some subtle pitch or volume fluctuations, can sound very organic
  • Layer multiple variations
  • Adjust pitch slightly on different layers to create slow chorus style effects
  • Split the drone into frequency bands and mix the bands spatially (reverb, filtering, stereo placement)



Mark, you’ve got a track in your inbox.


You could try re-harmonizing by adding parts in sections. At the points that the tonic starts to get boring to your ears, begin to introduce a new harmony on top of it – having lots of harmonics present in the sound already is something you can exploit by doubling secondary tones in a way that creates a feeling of harmonic movement, or shifts the emphasis away from the fundamental by reinforcing or harmonizing with otherwise secondary tones.

Just bringing it down in places to let other material sit in the foreground could be enough to relieve the monotony, too.


Remember “Blow” by Kesha? (Yeah, me neither till yesterday—thanks @Angela—but now that I mention it yes.) Anyway, her song also tackles a similar problem of monotony—that synth bass is there doing more or less the same up-and-down slide for the whole track, with the exception of the bridge. Her solution is twofold: at the start of the second verse (“now what? we’re taking control”) she runs the bass synth through a stereoizer and then processes each half slightly differently, and then at the end of the bridge she has it “stutter”, so the sound is recognizably doing the same sorts of things, but with variation—I think probably this was accomplished during recording, but a delay or granulizer plugin could do something similar. In this vein, it might be fun to split your drone into a couple channels and throw slightly different effects on them, and then add some gentle automation motion.

(I’m aware that Kesha probably does not work directly on the sound design of her songs, but it’s both convenient and kind of fun if you’re in on the joke to refer to the massive corporate conglomeration behind her music as being literally her)


I just noticed this. Count me in, please!


Really appreciate all the great suggestions on this @Simeon @_mark @lettersonsounds @alanza

Since it’s such a long piece I’m thinking I might try several of the ideas for a couple minutes each and morph between them.

I have a follow-up question on stereo-izing a sound with low frequency content. Should you high pass it? Or put the bass under a certain frequency in mono on the master? I’ve heard that’s important for mixes before (but maybe it’s really only super important for something that’s gonna be cut to vinyl based on how the grooves are cut?)


my very-very amateur sense is that that’s mostly a consideration for vinyl? but it might be a convention worth following even if only to help situate your piece in relation to other pieces people may have heard. Try both and see which you prefer :wink:


I love all this music in the same way that I deeply–and unironically–love Taco Bell.

edit: that Van Der Beek moment!


Many dimensions to phase cancellation. Complicated topic that I admit I’ve barely scratched the surface of myself.