Learn how to create your own synth patches from scratch. Get a solid foundation on the basic building blocks of sound design using simple monophonic synthesizers.
Using 2 legendary synths Fab teaches you how to:
- Recognize the tone and feel of different oscillator shapes
- Get past the confusing terminology that changes from instrument to instrument
- Use filters to quickly mold and shape the harmonics of the raw waveforms
- Hear the differences between different models of synths, cementing the classic "but they all sound different honey" excuse
Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:41 - Main Components
- 02:25 - Waveforms
- 05:36 - Filters
- 12:14 - Synth Comparison
Good morning children, today we're going to make some noise.
Meaning we're gonna learn how to make very delicate sounds with synthesizers, or rather we're gonna learn the basic principles that will allow you to make very delicate sounds with synthesizers no matter what synthesizer you own.
Here we go.
Synthesizers are very powerful but very simple little beasts.
If you're just stepping in the game and you know, starting with plug-ins you install in your plug-in you look at it and you get a heart attack.
Where does one start? The secret is this: It's all the same.
Every single synthesizer is more or less the same thing repeated over and over and over again.
There are a few building blocks you need to know about and then, by the multiplication and augmentation of those blocks, you can figure out just about any synthesizers.
Yes, including Massive.
The principles of synthesis have been the same since Bob (Bob Moog) introduced the mini in '71 and change.
The idea is this: You have a big block of clay, (Your raw sound) think of it as clay, and then you have filters (Your chisel) And then you remove stuff from your block of clay and you get your sculpture.
You have an oscillator with a big bold sound You have a filter. You filter stuff.
You get your sound. That's how it works.
The first building block you need to understand is the oscillator.
The source of the sound, the clay.
Let me show you.
Today I'm showing you this stuff on an old Korg MS-10.
I picked the MS-10 because it's a one oscillator synth so it's the bearable and most simple thing you can get and it can make great sounds and it has pretty much everything you need to learn.
So, first things first, the oscillator.
The principle is very simple I press a key like an A, it makes a sound.
Because is voltage-controlled it understands which keys you're pressing so if I press an F it'll make an F.
The first control that's interesting is the octave control.
Sometimes is called scale sometime is called octave sometime is labelled as +1, -1, +2 and sometimes is labelled in feet.
Because Bob (Bob Moog) took the terminology from organs (church organs) They have pipes, they have different lengths The longer the pipe, the lower the sound.
So a 32 foot pipe and this, a 16 foot pipe is an octave higher.
8 foot pipe.
4 foot pipe.
I wonder how they fit a 32 foot pipe into this little synth but those are the wonders of electronics.
Now, let's move on to wave forms.
Most synth are based on this three basic wave forms.
Number one: the Triangle Wave.
Number two: Sawtooth.
Number three: the Square Wave or also called Pulse Wave.
Now, all three waves have completely different sounds.
Right? I'll do it again. Triangle.
And then also some synths have noise.
The idea if you really want to get into synthesis and making cool sounds is that you have to teach yourself the tone and the feel of every wave form.
For example, say you're listening to the latest Rihanna record or whoever is popular this minute and you hear that crazy lead sound after a while of doing this you're gonna be able to know instantly, without thinking "Oh, that started as a square wave" Once you integrate that notion, which basically is like learning another instrument, (yes, yet another instrument to learn) then you'll be able to use that emotion in that intuition to make your own sounds because of course, when you hear this, is not super inspiring.
But if you know that starting from here you can get somewhere else then is fun to make sounds.
Square waves, also called pulse waves, are cool because you can modify them and change their width and do crazy stuff with them. I wanna show you.
Side note: historically, most synthesizer manufactures have called the very same control a different thing It's infuriating. You'll get use to it.
For example, some companies called square waves Square waves, which is nice since they are square waves.
Other companies called them pulse waves.
They called them pulse waves because you can change the shape of the wave and if it's no longer a square why call it a square wave? The idea here is that is the same stuff called a different name.
It can be infuriating but, once you get use to it, doesn't hurt anymore.
As I said, the beauty of square waves is you can change their shape. So, for example, this is 50% square and then you can change the actual duty cycle. Let's call it duty cycle.
It's cool to be able to change the shape of your square from the square to a more rectangle to like, skyscraper style to almost to a flat line.
See, if there is no more squares.
It's very practical because it gives you more options and more types of clay, if you will, to work your sound.
Just so you know, on old analogue synths, because they're analogue, the pitch is actually adjustable by a button so you can tune it.
And they tend to stay in tune for about 18 seconds so you better get an idea quickly.
Since we only have one oscillator today let's move on to filters.
The filter is your chisel as I mentioned earlier.
This is what it does.
Most synthesizers have a low-pass filter meaning they have a filter that goes from the high-end and shaves sound off towards the low end as you go. I'll show you again.
You've noticed that as I closed the filter less and less harmonics are passing through making a darker sound or duller sound.
That's it. That's all there is to a filter.
Let's not confuse the oscillator that's giving you pitch and the basic timber of the sound and the filter that's shaping the sound based on the amount of harmonics that it lets through for any given pitch. Chew on that.
Speaking of harmonics, the filter will react differently depending on the kind of wave form you're using.
That's the joy. For example, if you filter a square wave and the you change it to a triangle wave the filter does different things.
When you switch to sine wave since the sine wave has no harmonics well this is a little old so it's not that perfect sine wave but a sine wave has no harmonics, consequently the filter is basically a volume knob.
Right? The tone of the sine wave doesn't change because of the filter.
I'll do it again for all three waves.
Start with the sine wave.
Listen and see if you can hear it not change harmonics.
I'm switching to a triangle.
Now, check this out. Listen to the high-end and hear it atrophy and dull out when I lower the filter.
And then the square wave.
So now the fun part is to teach yourself what a square wave with a narrow width and a half-closed filter sounds like as a building block for your sound.
Ever since Bob (Bob Moog) invented this way of doing things filters have had an extra feature on top of just the cut-off frequency we saw.
Some designers call it peak, some designers call it resonance, some designers call it emphasis, it's all the same thing.
What it is, is right at the knee of the cut-off frequency this little peak resonance, emphasis, that let's you emphasise or peak, or make resonate, those frequencies just there.
Let me show you how it sounds.
Fine. Close the filter. Great.
Now I'm gonna raise the peak.
It's a Korg so it's called peak.
So it's gonna put a little peak, right there at the place where the filter is starting to cut off the frequencies.
Let's compare with and without the peak/ resonance/ emphasis thing.
Ah, you're starting to recognize some of those sounds, right? What you may recognize is this sound.
I'm gonna close the filter all the way.
so the interaction between the filter and the resonance and the oscillators give this sweeps, this cool things that I'm going on.
For some physical reasons that we won't get really deep into, once you start pushing the resonance really, really high, imagine as it being a really high peak like this, it actually creates it's own note.
It kind of turns into an oscillator itself.
And it makes some cool things. I'll show you in a second.
You have three of four different kinds of wave forms You have a filter and then you have the resonance, the peak, then you have octaves, then you have the notes and everything interacts with everything this is where it gets fun.
This is one oscillator synth.
If you have a two oscillator synth you multiply all that by two.
Three, I'll let you do the math.
And then, on the modern synths or on the sub synths where space is no problem, you also have different kinds of filters with different kinds of behaviors on the resonance It can get really deep.
But the basic principles are just a combination of this over and over again.
So if you get this, you can do anything.
Let me show you something cool.
Big in dub-step, but check this out.
I'm setting my filter at about half the range and I'm setting my resonance on kill or between nine and ten on this box.
And it sounds like this.
What's going on? Check it out.
Between the G and the A it's normal chaos.
Why is that? Because the filter resonance is so high that it actually is creating its own note from the resonance.
And it's playing one note and you're playing another note you're hearing two notes at the same time.
Then, as you go higher in the range, the interaction between the oscillator pitch and the self-resonating filter pitch create lots of sounds like this.
Side note: the reason why you want to bother having different kinds of synth, or plug-ins, or whatever, is because they sound different.
What makes them sound different? Just about everything.
The amplifiers, the filters, everything. Let me show you.
Here, in the left corner, we have a Korg MS-10.
In the right corner, a Moog Prodigy.
They're both playing a sawtooth the way they see a sawtooth playing.
They're kind of cousin sawtooth.
But then the fun comes when you play with a filter.
Then, let's play with the resonance.
Again, completely different.
Isn't that awesome? In summary of what we've seen so far.
You get yourself a noise maker that knows what pitch you're playing, has different kinds of noise, can go in different octaves, you can tune it, mhm, And then you have a filter which is kind of an EQ.
to shape the tone of that noise to what you wanted to be.
The filter happens to be deficient because it's in circuit and circuits are deficient so it self-oscillates if you want it to.
That's what we know.
This is officially the biggest time-suck in the history of the universe.
And as a parting thought...
Once logged in, you will be able to read all the transcripts jump around in the video.
- Korg - MS-20
- Moog - Prodigy
Fab Dupont is a Grammy winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of pureMix.net.
Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.
He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.
Fab has been nominated for Grammys 6 times, including two Latin Grammys and has received many other accolades around the world, including Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards and US independent music awards.
Toots And The Maytals
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