Ambience: recording the sounds around me’

I just thought of an idea: since I carry a sound recorder with me everywhere I go (my iPhone), why not capture the ambient sounds that are around me? It could be the sound of kids playing, or cars passing, or maybe just the sound of walking. These sounds aren’t meant to be loud and very noticeable, but just having those subtle moments inside of a song could help it come to life.

A few years ago, when I was recording PlasticSky, I visited my mom’s house, and while I was there, I sat outside and recorded the first verse to a song. If you listen close, you can hear birds chirping. Those birds were recorded into the song by accident, but now each time I hear the song, I always listen for that small moment of ambience.

Dan Lyth just released his new album, Benthic Lines. It was recorded entirely outside. During the recording process, I remember him tweeting pictures from random locations that he traveled to just for a specific ambient sound. I’m not planning to go all out like he did, but as I sat down to write about my new idea, his album popped into my head (I’m enjoying the album again now).

I remember Fort Minor’s album, The Rising Tied, and how Mike Shinoda placed ambient studio sounds and conversations behind certain songs. It made the album feel more personal. Thinking back, it’s moments like these that I enjoy most in music.

I thought of this idea when I was washing my hands. Turning the water on always makes the loudest squeaky noise. Then I heard the water. I heard the sound of the drawer opening up. These sounds can compliment my music. It could make a song feel alive and give it more personality. It’ll have the feel of being on the move, like something’s happening.

I wasn’t sure how well my iPhone would capture these sounds, so I opened up Hum and recorded the water running. I took that recording and placed it inside of Isolation, an upcoming song for my new album. This test was successful, and now I know to record as much ambience as possible. I look forward to finding new sounds for my stories.

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