Ernest Hood’s 1975 album Neighborhoods has long been considered one of the best early examples of ambient music, a genre that rewards both background listening and close attention.
Ernest Hood was a once Portland jazz guitarist and KBOO co-founder who lost his ability to play guitar after being struck by polio. But he didn’t let that stop him from creating beautiful music with a unique palette of zithers and early synths. In fact, Hood’s Neighborhoods album is a testament to the power of creativity and self-expression in the face of adversity.
Hood only pressed 1,000 copies of the record, but the album has had a lasting impact on the experimental music world. The album features long stretches of field recordings that Hood made around West Linn and other Portland suburbs. These recordings capture the mundane conversations and distant natural and animal noises of Portland’s past, offering a unique and fascinating glimpse into the city’s history.
As we know, curiosity is currency, and exploring new sounds is a great way to develop both curiosity and creativity. So why not give Ernest Hood’s Neighborhoods a listen and open yourself up to new sonic experiences? You never know where it might take you!
Ernest Hood’s music is known for its atmospheric and ethereal quality, characterised by the use of field recordings and unconventional instruments like zithers and early synthesizers. His music often features long, meandering melodies that create a dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere.
To create a score in the style of Ernest Hood, you might begin by incorporating field recordings into your music, such as the sounds of nature or ambient noise from everyday life. You could also experiment with unconventional instruments or electronic sounds to create a unique sonic palette.
In terms of melody and composition, you might try creating long, flowing lines that weave in and out of each other, creating a sense of continuity and fluidity. You could also experiment with layering different sounds and textures to create a dense, immersive sonic landscape.
Overall, the key to capturing the spirit of Ernest Hood’s music is to embrace experimentation and creativity, and to let your imagination guide you as you explore new sounds and sonic possibilities.
To make music on your iPhone in the style of Ernest Hood, you can use various music production apps that are available on the App Store. Here are some suggestions for apps you can use:
- GarageBand: This is an app developed by Apple that allows you to create music on your iPhone or iPad. GarageBand includes a range of virtual instruments and effects that you can use to create ambient and experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.
- Korg Gadget 2: This is a comprehensive music production app that includes a range of virtual instruments, drum machines, and sequencers that you can use to create music on your iPhone. Korg Gadget 2 has a vintage-inspired interface that makes it easy to create lo-fi, experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.
- iKaossilator: This app is designed for creating electronic music using the Korg Kaossilator, a portable synthesizer that allows you to create music by tapping and sliding your fingers on a touchpad. iKaossilator is a more affordable and portable option for creating music in the style of Ernest Hood.
- BeatMaker 3: This is a comprehensive music production app that allows you to create music using virtual instruments, samplers, and effects. BeatMaker 3 has a vintage-inspired interface and includes a range of features that are ideal for creating ambient and experimental music in the style of Ernest Hood.
When using these apps, look for virtual instruments and effects that can create the sounds and textures that are characteristic of Ernest Hood’s music, such as vintage synthesizers, tape delay, and reverb. Experiment with different sounds and effects to create your own unique sound, and don’t be afraid to be experimental and try new things.
To make field recordings on your iPhone in the style of Ernest Hood, you can use various apps that are available on the App Store. Here are some suggestions for apps you can use:
- Rode Rec: This app is designed for recording audio using Rode microphones, but it can also be used with the built-in microphone on your iPhone. Rode Rec has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as a stereo mode, high-quality audio recording, and the ability to adjust input levels.
- Hokusai Audio Editor: This is a comprehensive audio editing app that allows you to record, edit, and manipulate audio on your iPhone. Hokusai Audio Editor has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as the ability to adjust input levels, edit audio files, and apply effects like reverb and delay.
- Ferrite Recording Studio: This app is designed for recording and editing audio on your iPhone or iPad. Ferrite Recording Studio has a range of features that are ideal for field recording, such as the ability to adjust input levels, edit audio files, and apply effects like reverb and EQ.
- AudioShare: This app is designed for managing and sharing audio files on your iPhone or iPad. AudioShare allows you to record audio using your iPhone’s built-in microphone or an external microphone, and then edit and share your recordings with other apps.
Make sure to experiment with different microphone placement and recording techniques to capture the sounds of the environment around you. Look for sounds that are characteristic of Ernest Hood’s music, such as ambient background noise, natural reverb, and environmental sounds like birds or running water. You can also use effects like reverb and delay to enhance the natural sounds of your recordings and create a unique atmosphere in your music.
I would be really interested to know your thoughts on the music of Ernest Hood. Do you like it? Does it inspire you? Do you dislike it? Let me know what you think in the comments.
And remember, curiosity is your currency.
Have a nice day.
Daniel Bromfield, The Late Ambient Music Pioneer Ernest Hood Goes “Back to the Woodlands”, Willamette Week, November 22, 2022
Marty Sartini Garner, ‘Before Brian Eno made Music For Airports, Ernest Hood made music for Neighborhoods’, AV Club, October 2019
In case you are even more curious …
Why not check out my best-selling VIRO series on Amazon. The books tell the story of Jake, a boy with special needs looking for his missing mother. Jake wakes one morning to find his life is broken. His mum has gone missing. The world has fallen apart. Determined to find her, Jake is forced to comes to terms with what has happened to the world. Confronted by the horror, he initially struggles to make sense of everything. Helped by the new friends he makes, Ellis, kind and resourceful, and the twins, Amber and Abe, Jake starts to develop his independence. Forced to confront the apparent difference defined by his special needs, Jake realises that this difference doesn’t matter any more. This gives him the strength to keep going. As they fight for survival, the four kids meet a wide range of other people also battling to stay alive and with each encounter Jake and his new friends learn a little bit more about themselves and each other. Ultimately, Jake’s story is one of hope and determination in the face of complete and utter devastation.
Here are some real-world reviews for the VIRO series:
‘This review is for the series. Capturing the voice of a young character with special needs (I spent 25 years as a special education teacher/administrator), Taylor’s story of a group of young people coping with a world disintegrating in front of them; with the loss of structure and trust, and with betrayal by the adults who should be protecting them is both uplifting and horrifying. Do not be fooled by the simple language of the narrator: there are hard questions asked and realistic, unsentimental consequences to the apocalypse confronting the children, and an ending that you are unlikely to forget easily.’
‘Barnaby Taylor has a daring and rich imagination that transports you to new adventures in a re-imagined world, that are vividly written with a fresh and vibrant use of language. […] Barnaby can really write an action packed scene with fear inspiring characters such as the Tall Man. Baxter the dog who accompanies the children gives the story the delightful twist of feeling like an apocalyptic Famous Five. Genius.’
‘The writing style is beautifully compelling, and after the first couple of pages I couldn’t put it down. The author very skilfully creates a world and characters through deceptively simple prose that draws the reader right in. It is a fascinating blend of one-after-the-other edge-of-the seat scares, alongside a haunting narrative about what it is to be human.’
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Dear Curious Friends,
It can sometimes be difficult to find the support and encouragement we need to keep going. That’s why it’s so important to connect with others who share our passion and can offer valuable feedback and advice. Leaving a comment is a great way to start a conversation and connect with others who are on a similar journey.
By sharing our experiences, challenges, and successes, we can learn from each other and grow. We can offer encouragement and support when someone is struggling, and celebrate each other’s achievements when they reach a milestone.
Furthermore, starting a conversation can help to hold us accountable to our goals. When we share our progress with others, we are more likely to stay committed and make meaningful progress.
Finally, leaving a comment and starting a conversation is an excellent way to build community and find the support and encouragement we need to keep creating. So why not take a moment to share your thoughts and connect with other creatives today?
Also, as a thank you for reading this post I have created two free books for you to download. How to Journal is a handy guide to journaling and I hope it helps you get started. How to Unlock your Curiosity is a brief guide to enhancing your creativity by simply being curious. Both books are available for free at the top of the page.