Originally Posted by Kvlt O)))
Start with music theory, synthesis (focus on pads), or even try googling, "How to use a sampler".
Not only can regular techniques be applied to many genres, but almost everything you'll learn can be directly applied to making ambient music. Even picking up an instrument and manipulating a few parameters in your DAW will result in a handful of drones.
Try less to focus on actually software and try to think of it more in turns of what sounds you heard around you and how you can "influence" those sounds in a DAW. I DON'T mean simply record and import sounds into your DAW, but rather more a case of taking sounds and breaking them down, making new sounds from them, which is actually a lot more easy than it might first seem to be.
There are many programs out there..some free..others cost the earth, but basically it will come down to what you find works best for you, and the only way to get to that stage is to try out as many demos of programs that you can and go with those that fit in best with your production work-flow and / or imagination.
You'll find you end up with only a handful of "workhorse" programs and plugins, that you tend to use in most projects you start..and some of the possible things you will need are the following..
..a good audio editing program. There are many out there, but the obvious candidates are the likes of Audacity or Ocenaudio.
..a good basic synth. Again, there are many other there, but you need one that will let you play with sounds as much as possible..not just one that comes with a great sounding preset bank. I personally use the now defunct Camel Audio's Alchemy..the full version, not just the free player they offered, but unless you have it already, then you can forget it. One free alternative is the famous Synth1
designed by Ichiro Toda.( [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
..learn as much as you can about EQ and Reverb. By "learn" I mean actually spend as much time as you can playing around with programs that deal with both. Learn what it actually sounds like to apply a filter..not just what a book tells you it does! Like all other programs..there are many on offer and you need to find ones that "click" with YOU. I could make recommendations here, such as the free versions of Blue Cat Audio's EQ software ( [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
), but like I said, this is really one area where you really need to check out what's on offer, as each program tends to appeal to different people for different reasons.
..some sort of granular synthesis program, as the chances are you are going to end up using granulated sounds in ambient music anyway, and learning about this form of sound sculpture is well worth your time, though maybe not high on your list.
..read up on the history of ambient music and actually listen to as much old-school ambient as you can. If you want to do your own new stuff, then it will help you no end to familiarize yourself with what came before and just how they did what they've done.
..be inspired. Sorry..I've no advice to offer on this front..only you know what inspires you.
Last point..forget about finding courses on making ambient music and just make it. I'm not being a smartass, but just trying to get you to understand that nobody thought the founding artists of this genre, they merely explored certain ideas they came up with and ran with it. When you're starting out, you sometimes tend to fall back on how we've all beem brainwashed into thinking..that anything worth knowing must be thought to us by somebody else..but in real life, it can often be the case that only you can teach yourself! Sure, others will trach you have to use programs and plugins and hardward, but it will always be up to you to be creative and actually make music. So, with this in mind, I suggest you teach yourself by way of just working with stuff in a very "hands on" way. Trust me, your music will sound better and your understanding of the genre will be all that much deeper, too.