Psychedelic music techniques

I’ve always wanted to translate fractals, hypno-spirals and a kaleidoscope into sound. I’ve got enough gear, I ought to be able to find something serviceable :slight_smile:


I’ve had some luck using really long delays with this free Max4live-device that goes up to 16 bars! If you put a LPF and some dirt on the repeats they can appear, long after the initial sound, as some distant, hazy memory.


I’m particularly into their 5D album, was just talking about it yesterday :sunglasses:


Had to put it on! Takes me back a good twenty years when I really devoured these sounds. Never bought a Rick though. :sunglasses:

ADD: (oh, I also realize this takes me to the creation of my nick, which at the time was a musical idea to connect byrdsy janglepop with soul music.)


I’ve never had a 12 string, but am seriously hoping that Guild brings out a natural blonde maple Starfire 12!


Spaceman 3 are at the top of my pantheon.
Minimalism, repetition, and layers!


Another plug for the low, slow phaser. I think the type of phaser really helps here, as well, but you can get a similar/interesting effect from panned resonant bandpass filters. Sweeping them around the right frequency sweet spots produces some fantastic results

Another of my favorite techniques is the “delay” used by Terry Riley in some of his ~60’s recordings (specifically, A Rainbow in Curved Air). All he did was produce a delayed copy of the main recording in the right channel offset by just the right amount of time, with no feedback or reverb whatsoever. The instrumentation and actual musical content plays a huge role here as well, but it’s a fantastic effect and it barely requires any serious hardware


this topic is near and dear to me in my own personal music world/seeking.
i think of it as minor/major psych. the cumulative effect of layering many techniques often lends to wilder feels. here are a few i use of the top of my head

eq to change impact of sound source from subtle to full on caricature
bus parts together to modify only sections/some sounds
removing aspects of sound to feel things drop out or confuse messages
obvious effects of delay/verb(spring yup), phaser chorus and beyond
specific delay scenario is a comb style delay, time-modulated
or ringing with tight wet/dry dynamics control
audio rate tremolo and/or modulated speed
adding or removing a beat in a phrase
things running very slightly async
async phrases to change where “ones” align
modulating “tempo”
use of the stereo field to present ideas that feel a bit more or less physically present
use of real + simulated instrument to embellish or augment available toolset within voice
putting ANYTHING/everything in a sampler
coupling voices to find “orchestration” narrowing in on a specific sound /complex voice
glitch flavor ie tape/record/cd malfunction
combo of filter+bitcrush stuff endless audio effect possibility
using instruments, hardware or software that is unpredictable or unknown
the infinite potential of post processing


All that is great, thanks!

I think the quintessential psychedelic effect is reversing the lead guitar. I’m thinking of late ‘60s early ‘70s. Beatles, Byrds, etc.

Maybe delays are equally as important as reversing, it’s very close in my mind.


Another technique would be, to take some lsd or mushrooms and listen to whatever.

PS: Don’t do drugs!


Stop reading my mind


I would be hard pressed, I think, to find any music on lines that is not inherently psychedelic.


Big fan of Olivia Tremor Control. Worth checking out in terms of use of effects


I loooove OTC!

Their spinoff project Black Swan Network is worth checking out, too:

The full-length album, The Late Music , was born out of a small message hidden in the liner notes of The Olivia Tremor Control’s Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle , requesting that people submit recordings of dream descriptions to the band. The album consisted of seven untitled pieces incorporating the submissions with different other ambient sounds and musical fragments.


Some of the most psychedelic experiences I’ve had with live music have involved listening to loud, dense, droning sounds; once while laying on the floor under a Tiffany glass dome in the middle of an array of 18 speakers while Kevin Drumm was performing, and another time while laying next to the subwoofers under the stage at the Empty Bottle while Lawrence English was touring in support of Cruel Optimism.

I’ve been reading bits of The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music and seen discussion of folks like La Monte Young and Phill Niblock employing high volume for intended psychedelic and psychoacoustic effects, but I’ve never experienced their music in live settings so I can’t speak to it here.

As a band named after an amplifier brand has wisely and repeatedly stated about the best way to listen to their loud, dense, droning music: maximum volume yields maximum results.


it can also work in the opposite direction of quiet or extremely quiet drone/minimal sustained music.
Naturally, there is an enhanced focus and highten awareness, which in turn alters ordinary concussions.


“Anechoic chamber music” generated by the body as a form of psychedelic music experience.


I highly recommend visiting the MELA Dream House in NY for a La Monte Young experience centered more around frequency beating. While visiting, had a psychoacoustic “out of head” experience by singing with a friend into each others’ mouths as loud as possible. Felt like I was in the space where his head was, and vice versa.

Re: high volumes, front row of a Swans concert at All Tomorrow’s Parties in Asbury Park. In the same vein, worth looking into Maryanne Amacher’s work with psychoacoustic distortion products.


I saw them a few years ago and that concert - along with My Bloody Valentine ca. 1992 - was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to transcendence when seeing a band live.


I also saw MBV around that time.

It was insanely loud and definitely overwhelmingly psychedelic.

I gave a presentation at Berklee later called Falling Into The Sun, which was about religious experiences in rock music…