Check out these slides and take some notes along the way!
WHAT IS SUBTRACTIVE SYNTHESIS?
Subtractive synthesis is a synthesis method where oscillators generate waveforms and then filter out frequencies over time to make the sound interesting and evolving.
An oscillator is the waveform generator in almost all analog keyboard designs.
The simple waveforms:
A synthesizer can have many oscillators per voice but 2 or 3 is typical on an analog synth.
In synths, the oscillator abbreviation is VCO for Voltage Controlled Oscillator.
Cross modulation is a design where one oscillator can modulate another one. This is effective for generating overtones and sounds outside the fundamental frequency.
An envelope is a time-based controller used a lot in synthesizers.
ADSR is a typical envelope containing 4 points. Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release.
Some synthesizers have a Hold stage too.
Envelopes are typically used in the filter and amplifier to modify sound over time based on how you play the keyboard.
The filter is an important part of any Subtractive Synthesis.
The filter is typically controlled by an ADSR envelope with an amount that controls its impact on the sound.
In synth, the abbreviation is: VCF for Voltage Controlled Filter
The filter can be controlled and modulated by an envelope amount for time-based changes.
Amplifier or, the amp is the gain stage used in a lot of electrical instruments. Amp controls the volume and amp velocity. VCA stands for Voltage Controlled Amplifier.
Low-Frequency Oscillator or LFO is essentially the same as the sound generating oscillator but it has a much lower frequency and is applied to sounds generated by the VCO. Think of Dubstep Wobble Bass. It is typically used as a controller for modulating parameters to make a sound change over time. LFO is often used to pitch- or filter modulate the sound. Tremolo, Vibrato, and Auto pan is essentially done with an LFO.
A Wavetable is like a digital oscillator that generates complex waveforms instead of simple waveform Oscillators.
It is actually a list of samples (called a table) that can be morphed over time.
Modulation is a way to make the sound interesting over time.
Modulation uses a source to modulate a parameter.
Some modulation sources:
MIDI continuous controls (CC)
A modulation source can modulate another source for complex modulation.
The arpeggiator is a sequencer feature that triggers held notes one at a time in time with the tempo. It is a way to play chords on monophonic synthesizers and can create interesting patterns. Combined with modulation one can create interesting musical patterns.
HOW TO PROGRAM SYNTHESIZERS
Programming synthesizers is a lot easier when you know the basic modules of a generic synth. The term programming refers to setting parameters and no code actual language is needed.
There might be differences in your synths but still, they have the same overall components.
It is usually not that hard to learn but easier to program a new synth if you already know and program your own presets on a few synths.
Where to start?
The basic preset steps in how to program:
Set the Oscillators
Set the Envelopes
Set the Filters
Set the LFOs
Modulate Oscillators and Filters with the Envelopes and/or LFOs
It takes a lot of practice to program a specific sound from the top of your head or from listening to other artists' music. A good understanding of the audio signal path and the components in runs through is always a help.
1. Open the Logic DAW - Create a software instrument track.
Go through the following synths and find all the modules. Alter them, explore the sound and make notes on what synths you liked. Create a little chart for yourself. KNOW HOW TO FIND PRESETS!
Explore these synths and write down a brief description of each :
2. Build yourself a Logic Template. This is a saved file that you can open every time you start a new project. It saves a lot of time. A typical Template will have the following:
I like native instruments Kontakt with Alicia Keys for my piano.
For Pads, try Alchemy, Absynth, or Serum. Be sure to create a simple warm pad that is clean.
Save your work as a template!
3. Pick your favorite synth and create a new unique patch.
Decide if you want a lead synth, pad, bassline, or FX.
Shape the synth as you see fit to create a usable sound that can go into your next project. Add this patch to your template above.
Master the use of the synth as best as you can. When you do, create a brief tutorial on how to use the device.
4. Take notes on this final video:
Be sure you understand the following:
Harmonics and Waveforms.
GO TO CANVAS AND TURN IN YOUR WORK.
1. Description of each of the 9 synths
2. Post a screenshot of your template: (command shift 4)
3. Post a short recording of your Patch that you created
4. Notes on synthesis video
Want to go deeper?
1. Get "Certified" as a Synth Master, take the course on Syntorial.
Get the registration from the instructor.
2. Take this Serum Course and get "Certified" as a Serum Master. Why? Serum is the best synth going! It is found under Xfer in your drop-down.
3. Learn about Bob Moog! The Man the legend!
4. Look at the old school Modular Synth
Like history? These people made it!