Documentation

v1.0 Documentation and Instrument Guide

Introduction

Weird Ambient Stuff is a library full of spectral soundscapes … alien atmospheres… dark and disturbing distortions… the stuff that goes in the background to establish a proper sense of otherworldly unease.  Just a couple things to note before diving in:

  • Installation: The archive with the files uses .rar compression, so extract it with WinRar (for Windows) or UnRarX (for Mac). Keep the folder structure intact, and drop it into your library.
  • License: Use these sounds however you like in your personal projects, as instruments or sound effects. Don’t repackage them or resell them. Sound good? Easy enough.
  • Kontakt 2 vs. 3+ : note that there are separate folders for K2 and ‘K3 and up’ , and use which one is appropriate for you.  Due to changes in how K3+ handles its internal effects, some of the patches from the K2 folder will not work properly if you are using them in later versions of Kontakt.  But, no need to fear, the version in the ‘Kontakt 3 and up’ folder will work fine.

There are three instrument groups categorizing your Weird Ambient Stuff:

1| Morphers

These thirty instruments rely on a very simple principle: move the mod wheel (or whatever you use to control CC1) and the sound will change.  Sometimes dramatically, sometimes subtly.  The source sounds have a lot of motion to begin with, and evolve over time.  On most of them, the pitch drifts around a bit, but these are intended to be used as atmospheric beds rather than melodic instruments.

The GUI provides knobs to control the following parameters:

  • Morph: this is controlled by CC1 and changes the sound of the instrument.
  • Attack / Release: Not assigned to a CC, these control the attack and release of the instrument’s ADSR envelope.
  • Reverb: This adds a simple reverb at the desired level.  By default it is off.

Also worth noting is that the pitch wheel generally detunes these sounds rather than raising or lowering the pitch chromatically.

A bamboo flute A saucepan lid

These are a few of the soundsources used in WAS

My voice A Wurlitzer Organ

2| Rhythmoids

This set of instruments makes use of Kontakt’s cool flexible envelope feature to enable tempo-sync’d rhythms that aren’t limited to the usual rigidity of loops.  They have a dynamic, evolving sound because they use volume envelopes to modulate the same samples that comprise the Morphers and Simpletones… which are usually 20-40 seconds long.  CC1 gives further motion to the instruments, often adding in new rhythmic elements and changing the timbre of others.  By default, the Rhythmoids have a tempo-sync’d delay applied, and the volume can be changed on the GUI.

The real power of the Rhythmoids is this:  with a little knowledge of what’s under Kontakt’s hood, you can go into the instrument editor and assign new rhythmic patterns to any or all of the five groups in each Rhythmoid.  I will add a tutorial to this section soon to describe the process, but if you’re familiar with editing Kontakt instruments, you can easily customize the flexible envelopes that generate the beat and make endless variations on these sounds.

3| Simpletones

After making the Morphers and Rhythmoids, it seemed like the individual soundsources could stand on their own as instruments too, so I made each of them into a Simpletone.  Not much going on here, no effects or CC transmogrifying…  just each of the source sounds I used in the other instrument categories, singled out.  But simplicity is often a thing of beauty, since every sound in the set can shine on its own merits.  I tuned them the best I could, though some are more tonal than others.  A few even work quite well as melodic instruments (Ghostly_009_Spirit_Organ is my favorite).

If you are comfortable digging into the Instrument editor, you can get a bit more life out of these.  Add a Random Unipolar or Bipolar modulator to the Source tab,  then assign it to control Sample Start, you will get a different beginning to each note you play (since the engine will pick a random spot in the length of the sample to start from).  I didn’t include this by default because the pitch is not consistent across the length of many of these samples, and it could be an annoyance to get out-of-tune sounds depending on where the sample begins.  But, that can also add a cool randomly detuned element to your music, too.  I’ll detail the process a bit more in a tutorial soon.

In Conclusion…

I hope you have a lot of fun exploring the depths of this confounding collection!  Whenever you’re composing and can’t quite put your finger on what’s missing from your track, the answer just might be “weird ambient stuff!”

– Joel Steudler