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20 Tips On Synth Programming


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Sat 26 May 2012
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Sound On Sound :
20 Tips
On Synth
Feature | Tips & Tricks
Published in SOS April
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We've all experienced the burst of creativity that
getting hold of new sounds can bring about
but not being able to
afford new synths and sound modules is also a familiar feeling.
Simon Lowther
offers some tips for creating inspirational new
sounds without spending money.
Using the same old tired sounds again and again is frustrating,
but it's all too easy to assume that
the only way to get out of the rut is to open your chequebook ,
when it may be that you're not
exploiting the programming opportunities your existing equipment offers.
Programming sounds
can be done by blind twiddling or careful analysis and skilled construction
- each approach will
produce a different set of results, and both are valid .
If you already have a good selection of bread -
and-butter sounds in your library (as most instruments do these days),
experimenting and customising .
you can just enjoy
1. Not all synth parameters have an equal effect on the sound .
Some sound -editing parameters
make a huge difference and are easy to get at and understand
- you can,
for instance ,
do a huge
amount with just filter cutoff,
envelope attack,
release ,
and LFO depth and amount.
Detuning the
oscillators is also very effective for getting a fatter,
sound .
2 .
Some simple ideas for a big effect :
adjusting the filter settings gives the
widest range of new tones.
A good
place to start is cutoff and the
modulation sources that affect it,
especially envelope amount,
tracking ,
keyboard velocity and the settings of the filter envelope.
Another area of interest on
a sample - and- synthesis instrument is the actual waveforms being processed .
Have you ever
really stepped through and listened to all the available waveforms in your synth?
3. When inspiration does strike,
or you face situations where you are under pressure to get results
quickly ,
a bit of prior preparation helps .
Some synths come supplied with software sound -editing
including the Korg N5,
Waldorf's Microwave II,
and some Yamahas .
Of course most
synths aren't like this,
so it pays to keep a library of places to start editing from to hand ,
with favourite envelope settings and modulation routings assigned to your commonly used
destinations .
I find it especially useful to have multitimbral setups preassigned with sounds and
MIDI channels ,
each given useful relative volumes and effects settings for quickly rolling out new
Once you start to craft an arrangement you can start hacking the template to bits and store
the result with your song data.
Try some housekeeping :
store edits of your sounds in a separate
or disk for each project.
It's a wonderful feeling when your creativity is not hampered by spending
hours trying to find that missing sound .
4 .
On those days when inspiration escapes me I need new sounds
but on those days sound-
construction inspiration has usually gone too!
To get around this I combine existing sounds I
especially from related synths as they often ' gel'
together better .
Roland Junos and JXs
or Korg PCM synths work very well in this context . You can mix and match layers either as
multi in a Korg or Roland or by importing layers into a program with Proteus and Kurzweil
synths .
Either way ,
it' s a quick and easy way of getting new sounds.
5. An arrangement often makes a tune stand out,
and sounds are part of this.
When programming
for a specific tune or arrangement ,
don't just concentrate on the strong melodic and bass sounds .
Think in terms of time,
as well as tone,
and look at longer -term sounds .
sweeps and other
pads can add dimension and space to quite simple arrangements .
Make use of evolving sounds
these are not only useful for New Age meanderings .
recent pop tracks.
There have been some great examples in
6 .
For much music ,
and especially dance music ,
the tempo is everything .
There are occasions
when the timing of LFO and other modulation sources need to be in keeping with the music to
stop things from sounding messy .
Depending on which synth you use there may be a setting
for sync ' ing the LFO to MIDI
- it may even be worth checking the manual!
The Kurzweil K 2000
series instruments require you to select MIDI clock as a modulation source ;
other synth


26. Mai 2012 10:43:20