Advent Ambience - What Does Waiting Sound Like?

This project allowed me to combine two of my great passions: Electronic creativity, and the season of Advent, with all its rich themes of waiting and hoping, light and darkness, promise and fulfilment and so on.
I set out mainly to explore the lighter and darker sides of Advent - both the joy and expectation of the promised Messiah, but also the pain and discomfort of waiting for that promise to be fulfilled. Holding these two together seems to be the normal experience of living between the first and second comings of Christ, and we need both to have integrity in our worship.
I set myself some other aims and goals too to help guide the creative process:
1. To create sounds that others might find useful for personal or public worship - perhaps for meditation or prayer stations, or for a prayer vigil for example. I hope they might be helpful in your own journey too.
2. To push the boat out creatively, because I'm always on the lookout to stretch into new territory and to encourage others to do that too. In other words, to produce some more experimental sounds (i.e. ones I'm not used to hearing in a worship setting) to see where it takes us.
3. Above all else, to only offer to others what was first offered up to God in private worship. I'm beginning to learn this in a new and wonderful way, that God loves us to create our favourite things as a way of loving Him, and then to offer the fruits of that to others, though there are sounds which I will never release, because they are for Him alone; I'm learning that too.
About the Tracks
There are three new tracks and the others were gathered from material I've recorded in the last three years or so. Most of the tracks are textures or soundscapes - they don't have a song structure and are built around chord progressions. One or two are more melodic and instrumental. All tracks are all high bitrate MP3s.
The tracks might be grouped roughly as follows:
1. Looping tracks - those whose sound is more even throughout and so are more easily looped without creating very obvious rises and dips in volume, intensity and so on. The tracks do fade in and out so are not loops in the "drum loop" sense where the loop is tightly edited into a fixed number of bars with no fading.
2. "Linear" tracks - those which may end quite differently to their beginning and would not loop so easily without creating (potentially) unwanted changes in atmosphere, mood, pace etc. when repeating.
Track 2 is the most "linear" of the tracks, but most of them are fairly even throughout and should loop fairly easily.
These tracks are intended to be combined with other elements such as visuals, prayer activities and so on. Try out different tracks with your activity to see which ones will fit the mood best.
If you are planning an activity or meditation to fit the loop, make a note of the track length, or have a way to fade out easily if the track is too long for your purpose. If the track is not long enough to fill the time allocated for the activity, you will need to loop it, or use a playlist - see below for some tips on this.
The loops will sound best on a good quality sound system rather than on a portable CD player, for example, as the sounds are quite subtle and detailed. They have been mastered to have a wide dynamic range which should help it come across on your sound system.
I'd recommend you listen to each loop all the way through (or sample it at different points) at least once to decide if it's what you need for your worship activity. This will avoid any surprises on the day.
The loops have not been volume levelled with each other, so if using a playlist, your media player may have a volume levelling function (Spotify and Windows Media Player do, not sure about iTunes).
Technical Tips
Seamless looping is possible in certain media players, such as Spotify (which can play MP3s as well as streamed content) by ticking "Crossfade Tracks" in the Settings panel:
If this isn't possible, the tracks all fade in and out, so there will be no sharp transitions, but there will be a short gap as the track starts up again.
Production Notes
My main music software is Ableton Live Suite 8, combined with Native Instruments Komplete 8 and a range of other software synthesizers and effects. I also use a wide range of sampled sounds I've collected over the years such as drum loops, ambient sounds, vocal stems and so on.
I use a range of MIDI Hardware controllers which provide a piano keyboard, and an array of physical controls (sliders, buttons, knobs and pads) to use to mix and shape the sound in real time.
Please get in touch if you'd like more details.
Your Feedback
Your feedback is really important, especially as I've tried to push the boat out a bit and try something a bit different. Specifically, it would be useful to find out:
1. How you used the loops - what was the setting, and how did the loops combine with other worship elements e.g. prayer exercises, meditations etc.
2. Were any of the loops not useful for any reason - why was this? Please state which ones you'd include here.
3. Is there any more information I can provide e.g. about the creative process or hardwaresoftware I used here that would be useful to you in creating your own electronic worship resources?
All tracks are offered to you on a Creative Commons 3.0 Non-Commercial Attribution license (with exceptions). In other words:
No commercial use is allowed. If you would like to include any of these tracks, in whole or part, in a commercial product, or for any non-worship use, please contact me at
Attribution is not required if using the tracks "live" i.e. in public, but if you want to use it for a presentation or something else, please include the following information on screen:
©2012 Richard Lyall
Also, please don't upload the tracks to Youtube etc. I will be hosting them on my blog at some point - please link to
By playing the tracks you agree to these terms. Apart from that you're free to use them as you wish, and I hope you will find all kinds of creative ways to use them this Advent season, for AdventChristmas worship and outreach and so on. And if you use a track, I'm always interested to know what you did with it. Please drop me a note at!
Richard Lyall
Advent 2012
In association with Engage