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by Dean Friedman.


II1II' •

-ONT'E'NTS- ". \, ",' ,. ' ,', "'I ,,', "





G@tting Neutra'[

1 SOIU, -,-D,


Syn th,esizer$1 Video,

Sound and 'Waves


and Comput,ers:

The' First Synd1 esizer B The Elements




PEtcb 10 I Timbre:tO Loudness 13





M()l1e about Wav,es and Wav@f'!l:)l'lllS, 1.4,

Th e Five Most Co nun o 11' Waveforms in 5.Y12,t,kesis 1.5

The Sine Wa \'Ill 15 I Tl-i Squar;e Wav,~ 16 TI1~ Sawtoodll VI{ ave lEt I l1u3' Tri'ang~e 'WiiI,vt' 17

The D~f£erent Kinds, ,of Synthesis

Additive SynJthesis: 18

Subtractiv,e, SynthHls

THE VOLT AIGE=C,ONTR10l'lE'O Vo]ta,ge COlltro!




The Slx .Main. Compenents

The ,O~dliQt'or lJ

The fj:"ter 14,

The Amplifier ,and'the Enuel()'p~ ,Ge-n:erato rs: lS Th~ Volume £nv,elopf! 2S I Tne FHt~r Env.elopE 19

The' LEO








.A 5ynth:es.izer Flow Chart

More abou t OsciUtifo rs

37 Waveform ,Scled J7 I frequency, Tuning 3a. I Keyboor-d Control of th~ Oseillatur 35 N I.l~t" 'of Oscilla tors per Voice 39 I T uning OociUa.tots 39

Hn'~ Ttlrlling 40 I Ra_fige/O.e~ave·40 f S'uboscmator 4G PUlsEW«l~ ~d PWse Width Modu!a~iofi 40 I Mix Of iB.nfaJ'ttie lilt ! Souroe MawW 41
D tlll1l1llS

Mo're about Filter»


fiilter, Cu.tJoJf 4l. I Resam'\,ance41 I En" lope AmOllli"IJt 42 Di~~~ren~Kind&. Qf fi.lit~ 43 I Two-Po.le, four--Pole, 44

Keyboard: Tracking


.M,or~ about· Errv€,l,o,_u?s

48 I Delay

A TMrd Kiftd of b.y,elopll' 46

M'ore abD,uf ,t,he Amplifier M',ore' about; the LfO





161 63,


Wh.eels tutd' Levers

T'1'e X. Y Joystick


Tyvt!5 of Hand Contro 15


The Ri,bbtJH' ICon.trQ,ller C6




The ,B'~af"h Con'troUer

"""...,.,J ~;

:rl~'il! J, 1-':!fP
U' ~
j, ....

P. ~\

II.J"!C . ". ""!'~,~~\ ..... ~:,i7' DV.Hi~

T-.-.;,;, ~r~J . ... ,~'I~""; K' :'~'-S,'n .1. ~ ... ;;;.;g

,Lilli! ~!OI

'V'e'looty S~n~Uivi~y 69 I P~~W'e Sensitivity' Si~t~=!ide &tt5~thi'.it:y ro


~e:le!lR 'Velocit;!t' 70


But Brst.



Arud'qg' ver:$;us Digi.ta~' 74

Step' Pro.'gramm,ing
Tran8PQSe "17 i,S 78,


finaU, ' , -. AJ] These Neat,a, ,F~21J'tu:res

Oct~t'-~I Nang,e



A ut-o- Tune


-Port,~e.nh~1 19'
G'lis5t'l'~do SO


,61 81

C~ (lTd ,Mern'~,r;y'

,Polarity Sw,i tr,h

IUit1:ison. 82,

S:i1ig~'e/'Mul.tipl'e T rigg,eri'n,g


M'o,dulat~:on ,S3



,!is 86-

D-esj_ln~ngPa'~ch~8 and Performance T Khnrnqu'@'



I Doulb]f Sp]i~ Mode 9IJ


Keyb'oard M ode» 111 e


:M:,ode 001

Iti;t~·r.rJb'nd SI!1;n.t h'iE'5~zet ~i,


The Atpegg:!',ator The Se:q~,ru:~r

I Ch_a~ing Key and Tempo' 9J
! Loop~ng 9.1

,Rep]adn,g lPa:kfL;1!S'93 Re'aJ-Toe!

By $t.~,p 94,



! ,~q)uenoeoChainrng 94

Data M'a.~'1Qgern'en ,and Patch~s t.

The Pa.h:n 9'5 I ,BaJliKs, 96 Presets 97 I Edit/Compare
CM~'r~dge and D,I:9,1 Storag


Act:~\paJ'b'ig the Controls, 91 ! Splits and [)out 97 I J?,flttC'~ ShiiHng~, I Casser~~"':tg~B 9 98 I Sequrncf' StO:rilill~ '99

inputs and Outputs


Ster,oo/M'Dmu A I,;!d~,oOu't$ 99 ! Phone CV IG~H<t'100 / Oock [n/Out 100 i MUJ] In I.out IThru, um:



and Sl-'Otitche-sJ

Casset!l~ ]n/Out' 10l.

Sum "'uir:!l





SYSTEMS l:r 1, In


Sy·· 'tH,ESIZERS, Sa"'JpU'1g llilJir:es


.Phase Da~.5to rtion r;1n,dth e Cas i CJ CZ101'

5. peT
MIDI 115



MI D1-ins Syrlths



'C~:mlt oll~rs r

nd SYrithesil~r Modla!!les




.s~'~t.een. IDI ChaJ U1e15 118 M

Ml m Computer In terface MIDI
TrQC king


Dt:7Q ices

].'9 [27




1.23 123

About the Author

Attention Synthesists.




Beioresex education ~n schQ~o]s became commonplace most olf us learned the facts of Hfe' on I~heplayground, on. [the- :sbee:~iSl 0]" in the hack seat of a Chevy'. .At Ithe :~lm,ethere 'was s]m.p~y no

other p'~ to acquire this crucial knowledge. Our parents 'were ace' mu[tarll.'~ to ~p] ain the more p.ruri!e.n.t.details of the su'bj:ed

ed thif1 fact is, 'even


sure W hal was what.. This us wifh a seriou lack of lnformatio,n ,. ii"£' .• d ,. .:tL. Th e same sorry s·fate ort arrairs exists to ."ay ~n t~-~.e c~synthesis. Synthesizer :manuf,:3JcharTti!f'S ha v~ mough

translating'ins ~rucHon manuals into some of Eng]ish_p ltt alone la.U~pting:to explain the theory

tl1~instruments, The' truth 'of the' nl!altber ~s,'lhal'~the en ..· field '0£ sound :S'Jntillesis irs :sun 5-0 yO'IU'itg there is s,uU only a
,ofbooks en the subject. and the few 'Ot those that are goed alre qUl ckly bocom~ng absolete.




In any case, I wouldnt wan:t an entire 8f.l1J@ration of synthesi21er players to have to spend their f·onnat]\1,e y\ears hopelessly mis,informed just because the only place t'hey co learn about oscUla ton, and Hillers was huddled QV'@Jr some out dated electrorucs manual in the school bathroom dll.r]ng r~ 1.0the £ollow~n,g pages, YQ'U will f nd out aU ]lUU to, know about the Ibfrds and bees (or in this case jhe 'buzzes and hwe,ts,j of synthesis. One thing to remember, though, is that - as helphmJ as thls book may be - in :synthesis as in sex, is. very important that you get as much "hands on" expetiente as, possible, 'Giot thatl Good. Keep reading.

< 'W": AC' . K- """N' "'0'".... 'L' E'O-' G'MENTS... .' ..'.•••..
•...., . <,< ..•.•.••... . ......•..... . ', ,.


'~...·d~liI71"'"Ioh)I'" W' "'n,,~'liol"n'~'e ,....,1:' O'>~V· :']'·d·C:r ..... jU~, I m L ... IL 11.'-.0","' ".d" .' whose 'book The Co mplet,lE' SyliJ thes i.2:,lE'r'gr~,a.tly' aided my own anders~fmdin:g of sy.nthf!sis; also the writing :5taff of KJey'hoQ;rd' MRgfline~ ,ift periodical that continued to be an invaluable
.... ~U ] _ I W.."u-~,.1-]'11,.,.
_,f,,'!;: L..... 1,.'...,



,1,," '.0""








f,o'l" ny synthes]st; ~he folks at Sam Ash for providing a Ems to many of the s.ynthesizlers In this book: J o-nny Mann, for his advice and feedback and for letting me play wHh his Ma~ toys; all the folks ,~.t N,e'w Eng]~rnd D'bdtal and also ~~he folks atM~sh:~Net; Robert Shtddon of th~ N,atkuta] :M:usllurn of AmericaI'!J His~Oiry.for his hel:p in ~.oc,aHnginfnrmaticn aibo,.ut tbr 1 tlhatmoIilium; my friend Brett... who still actuall y believes fm gQJng to give him back ]ds U3M PC 'when rve Hnished ~his ; and :Mally Clarabelle, and a]b~nOIeockatlel, who 00]ated wjd, me on my Iase hook 'lbut~s, cllr.I'ent~y busy ea~mg mo'ldjrl!l@jon. ~he ''ft, cabinets, Thanks €ve_ry,one!


IN:<TR"O"'D"U'. •..•. .... '. _':,


~-:C" '


'-TI--O- "'N' ,..

. ..•.••. !

The blgest 1'(robletn wHh ~rying I~O write a. "book about syn.= thesiurs is '~hjs:They are all d[f.rellent. Nesingle approach Is going to be sueeessful with ev,ery model. Fo:rtunal't,~ly'~ there are enough basic similaridJf's among synthesizers so l'halt it is possible te org,anize' this, Ma'~~'ri~l both toprovide you, 'with an, undmtal'lding 'of ehe basic principles of sy:nl~hesis and It0

prtpa:ri! you for negoUa:llng

the diHeren t makes, ,of synthesizers

you are liable, te eeme across.

I po~nl: this, ,out because, de5lprn'~1@ th~ir similarities. the disparity ,among .featur@s of the different makes, of syntheslzers is still SIO l~f@a't· t'hat 'ru~ will remain an important factor

this book. You'll constantly see terms, such as liSWl!ly or on most. .systems Oil: in mafi.y ,c~-e~ 'or ,:1i'ome when I'm desoibmg a particular fea'~ure, 'Dontt: let t:hi s dismay you.. In an





ef·iort. to overeome this prob~em of the diversity

o.f' f:eal:'u.res,

I've tried 'to come up with a typical "composi t.e~.r syntlhesiw.. This ~ypical synthesizer will 'be 'U.sM in diagrams to gi,v~you I@xamp'~e'o~ the kinds of featur"~..s y10u are Uke']y to find on. most
(but nut: all) synth.l~sizef.s,.

Another big pro blem you should be aW'a~e of is the one involving t~n.o]'ogy" Different manufacturers use dii= ~elr,en'tterms to describe tth·@: same eomponent, This can get needlessly frustrating and cOnWsing,r but wherever I cam I by Ito give Ittheahemate l~eIIl!lSIor a particular Ff'a.'~ulle.. I've' tried to 'plUEn~'the material ~1iIJ su·c:h a w·a,y· whether you. own a synthesizer" or l'Iegard]ess iO~ its tnak1i!'; you wiU sti~] be able to get. :somethillg out ·of.this book. Exerds@i5. are provided th!rQlug~u~rll~ Itext .forl' those ,the you with access eo a synthe:$:izer~ but, Iir"t'en ~iyou donjt hav,e' one, I strDngly recomenend you read t~ough the exercises because ,they' do include occasional hints and sugges,t~cns,thai are supplementary to th,e main I:!~ t and can help to ,givii you another perspectrve on the u,eoty' being, covered, (N0 h~:These exercises are designed fow analoa; synthesizers. 'only ~ tha'l is... all s.fn'~hesizers. except '~he Yamaha. DX7 and the Cas]o CZ10L) In order to e~~te' some of the exercises, U will be necessary forr you first eo rut yaW" '5yndae~lU'1 into' w[h,at 1"11 can ne~tr;t;d.Neutr.a[ is a 'sta~e m wh'·ch your synthesize_[' 1s:set up to generate Its mo.s.'tbask sound ~ stm.ple ·wavefol'm. This will enable you to experi'ment with basic scund princip,les wi.thout ha'Ying, advanced modulations and getUng in yO'ur way. Again, dev~5mg' a fermula for arriving at neutrill won.'t be easy+ siven the vast d.ffiffer-ellces amo,ng ·synthesizers but we1,[ g]v,e it a try. (Note: AU values Ior ,c;ontro,] 5e,ttings be .giVien if[ the range of 'O~10j where 0 ~ off or minlrrunn, 10 ~ on 'OJ'maxiMum.)

1. ChoOH',~ preset sound that most dose~y resembles an organ. In ether words, fInd the pla[fiest:~, most bor1ng sound te start with. ,2.. If you have an. 'lFO [also called sweep or mg) find it and ~u:rn+'t off (Ito zero). 3. If you have sync .. cross modulation, chorus, ensemble,

or portamente, tum 'ern ,off. 'Turn ~hem. all cH,. 4" I~ you. have two. osclU~to:n'~ per voice find the .mix or balarilce control and turn ilt so ,t'hat you can hear only

of the o:sciUalors 5~ Set· the ,ADSR enve]op@(s) so th~t attack is at zero, decay 15, a~ zero, 'suS'tam is at 10 (maximum), and release is at zero.

Set the filter cutaH

.~.t10,. the resonance

at Of

and the enve10pe amount at 10. I Choose a wavle-fo:rm 'in the oscillator section. H you've followed this redpe, ehen w~th any' luck you should be left with is, a simple unadorned wa veFonn t any efM:cls Dr modula Hen in it, From ,this point you be able to proceed with Exerdse 1 examining the diftyp€s o.f 'waveforms (see p. 11}.

IE. for 'some fteaso'n th]s recipe has not achieved lfue resu]t.. don't worry, If's, not a problem, Just do the next thing. Go back to the Hrs't step in t.he recipe and choose, among the presets, 'th~plainest and simplest sound you find. This should enable y,ou to successfully complete all of (W arnlng; UnU] the controls on. your syn lhesizer - mO'ved s~ighHy·-they may not necessarily IefJect true setUn,gs." See Acti vating the' Con tro~s.pjlon p. 97.) One more po/nt b@f'o[',@I Jet you go, 'More and more aesaze:rs. today a,r@s.tepp'r,ograrl'lm,,'bJe'.That is'r Instead of a separate switch or knob for every function, you ha VE' f:IrY'II~" each funetion 'via an alpha-numeric keypad, For those who don't have a synthesleer, or who own an analog: ........ that: is no t. step programmable, th.e subject w~ube "._.. ~~ in due 'CtCHJrs@'. If,. h,'ow@'V,e-r you own a step-~$.yndl€sizer(each function 'wnl have' a number to it as opposed to its own knob) you may \Vant: to Chapter 5, espedaUy the section tit']edrJStep Programbefore you begin the 'eX€TC1S'E'S. rm sony if th~€ preliminary explanations seem a Htlt]e' 1Xt(:a[f'llJ. Dcn1t h~lti~ scare' you off",The r~s~ of this book will as pie, (sure.) SOl' enough jabbering" You 'w,anted. be IOmething about. syrl'th.'fSi.zers, righ'~1' Well, hen!! we ge,
U I' I' f;

YN·········'T-H. E--S···.·•I·Z:·~··E.·R···········.S·.···,
..". ..









subtJy mM€1JJV fl" your spaceship through hordes of alien in1

aJre a. lot ] like video games, ¥ OU plug, them in and. light up and make all kinds oJ strange and peculiar noises, only diffeterlJ(l~is tha t i~5h~.adof using switches and knobs pula te
you use s]mi]alr- knobs and 5,wi.t!ches, ~and k,eys) to
SQ,~!t1.d •

.I Il~ the video game analogy because ~h.ey'represent first:iMtilrL~e in whkh computers were used on intimate 5 by normal '~fry-day humans, 'Vide'o games are interac[un, sophisticated computers - but 'which any' 5-y~ar·.old . ran pJay. In fact, kids have a disHnct lidv-,anta~~e when video sames because they don't "know" H1at '~'hey are (om'pu~,e:r:$. are t.herefore no t as inUmjdaJed by them. and



Here' s my point. Today' s syn thesizers are simply keyboards a!.tached to a computer, 'Don't le t h~' computer par t scare y'OU. just shuffles ]nfonnation around and wiU do whatever you t'eU it to,

Thaddeus Cihnl took nul a. pa.ten'~on w'hat is generally considered to. 'be the 'very Hnt e]K trenic keyboard. It W,;;)S cell ed the' Telharmonium" The Telharmorrlum w,as a polyphonic instrum'~nl. wUh a touch sensitive keyb oard ,. Its ~o.Urtd was generated by a series of rapidly spinning alternatcrs driven by banks of of lect rome motors were ' 0 noisy they had to be housed in a '5epar,ate room. 'It wasn't what you,'a call portable either: it weighed in at about 200 tons a nd had to b hauled across the 'Unned S ta tes in six railway cars. The sounds generated by lhe Telharmonium \"'1,er@: sent down regular telephone lines and then amplified at the receiving end by large paper horns. Cahill's dream was tot ransmit Telliarrnonium perrormaaces simul taneo'Us]y over thousands. of te]~phone' lines, into restaurants. hotel lobbies, and living roorns across the COUlltry- the' original 'Muzakr Unfortunat ely Cahlll's anlbiUous scheme WE11'~ awry when two promoters ...who had assisted in raising thousands of dollars born Investors, suddenly distaJ,p~ peared . . . with the money. Due 1,0 these financial dtf kulHres and the -ac~ tha'~ the' development of superior ampUfi.cati,on systems and the "wireless" were gradually rendering. the Telhartnoniurn obsolete ehe company eventua]]y went bankrupt - but not ·b~fol"ieCahill had demonstrated tha't I~l~ctrid'ty could not on]y genera te tight and ron a, me lor but could create wonderful and '~citin;g new mt stc as W~U. ,A HtUe more rhan forty years ~a'ter. in. 1939'~a gentleman by. the name of Laurens Hammond introduced the first elec tric organ ~ an elec trontc keyboard based in. ·P,I.1"t on th~ ,rot,aling d:h~ksystem of the Telharmonlum. The Hammond Organ was ,enormously popu'laf' and cou1d seen be f,ound in churches, recording s l-ud[os" a nd homes around the world. It represented the first mass-produeed, consumer-oriented electronic ,.nstrumene, 'The electric organ can be viewoo as the p.ntclecessor 0 today~s synthesizer. Like the 'synthesizer :it generates its, sound 'Using electricity. What distinguishes the electri C organ frorn what we :now ref@f 1'0 as a synthesizer is the ',act that it is not programmable, Prog~~rnmi1i1g or editing refers to, the proe,e55 c shaping and manipulating sounds -lectronicaUy. While organs

In 1897 an. inventor by the name

lf1l8~e photographs

ttl·a< ·!Jill"lormOlJ s i,gIJuilFlFl'lOr!idU m-Uts[ 'No-rild's firSl, and :&iUIi ttl t} large'Sl, :lynlhe.slller

shew ·onl].' ,81 porHo.n




do generate a host of different sounds elecltronicaUy, they g@neraUy offer very few' access points for actually going in altering those sounds. SYlllthes"zers" on th other' hand, are designed speciHcaUy with programming and sound. editing in mind ~ This, ,ibil i'ty to preclsely mold and defme thiE complex parameters of a sound is wb8lt synd'l:esls is all about. The' first r~,al syn thesizer ~ as, we kno'w f,t t'Oday was. developed by a. feUow named Bob ,Moog. What he did was I . ". . ta~e iarge an d expensive e I~ctroIUC soun d-generattng corn," portents and replace them w~l~h sma.n and inexpensive soundgenerating components ..He put them all Into an eilegantJy simple and logical package and ca]'Joo ,i t the Me og Modular . "11 ll... S~ 'ys~em. Tho]SW,fJj5, t1l.. "lrsl cernmercra ]]-y avauanb"U~syn~ue5l1l:~r '. ne f" and was introduced in 1965. Six years later Moog had fwther refined and perfected his ereatton, making it smaller and more portable as well it s ] expensive, until finaJly' he in traduced wha t ]s sHU 'today one' ,of the most popular s,ynthesizers of all
r ~I~

Hme - the Mini-M"Qo,g+. -TiL ongJna deSlg;n 0 f thI e M".·lJU..·'Moog W3..s so s:u.c.. ,.) ,.lie .. · •.· cesslul 'tna.t 'to this, day almost an s,ynth,esibers are based, at ~east in part on tha)t firs t system; and even Itlulu,gh the MinDMoog is no' longer being tnanufactured, it is sltill used f'@gu].aJly in studio$. around the world, Th 'M"' 'M" • I In L' _e .• ·]n]-.·oo·g 15 a vo~tage=cont.roue. d synt.~les]zer~ ehat 150. its sound. Is generated and 'modified by voltageI.


conlroUed electrenic components such as osctllaters, fi~tenit and aropUf[~FS. This type oJl sl'nthesls is known as subtractiue' synthesis'. Other types of synthesis are ,'iidditiD~ synthesis and FM syn.thesis. Each of these different kinds of synthesis wiU 'b~ explained in d~taUf but· first; let's ta..lka ]itt~e about sound.




pebble into a pool ,of :sHUwa~e:r'- plUltk- and 'what


You scere the fi~h. A]SOf ripples, r,id~a·te outw'ard from the' center. The pebble, by briefly displacing a small amount of water, has :&tt oH a v'ibFta:tion. Thls v~bra.t~o!n. oves Qutward in m all d~rectio.n8 in the form of a 'Wave. Keep in mind that it is not the w'aler that is 'travdirug across the surface of the P()O~. The molecules of wat~r are simply movmg ba,dk. and fo'rt,h. What you :sf!'@ is 'th@en.ergy created by the' pebble's mO'\i"]ng through the water in the .form o.f.' a wave" The same ~h~~ happens .n the .lir .. Remember that plunk? JU5~ as, the impact of the pebble set off vibrations ~n the water simi~\arv]b~ations are set off in. the air. 'The molecules .of




f'lINm ~,,,~~

."'0 ~

'::J"~T A~m:eR.





air just [ike the molecules in ~h.ewater, move back and forth; and the energy created by th~ p·(!d:)b.le hJ~tingthe water travels

throu~h tliLeail' in all directions in, the form, of W'~"il'eS" These waves,are called :§i'ound w~t!es' because when i'hey reach your ear yoUl hear a sou nd ~ a pl'un Ie. ,~]1 a, syntheslzer electrical vibrations are ~t up in th~' (:m:~jrr~r. Th~, ~]echical vibrations are sent to the speaker whf!r~ they cause the s,pe,akl!.u: cone to move rapidly back and lorth~Fmmly; just as with the pebble In !~hep 00] ~ the motion of tt1espeKer cone s-ets up vibraHou8 in, the: air th2IJ'~ reach our ears in th,e Iorm of 'S101!lnd waves,

I:.lfl""'trloa. vi bratlo:fN:I, 5'ill, UIP 11111100 1 '5llJi'l!1Ithe:5llzer BlrE!' 'Cl!JIn'i,t~Jied !by ~~1Ei :spe.akelf I rvto a~~'i!~br,a:1iOnls wnic~ ,ev.en~Uii!lUlf rea!(;h O~f .e-:.a,i"£i ,as; SOu i'iid wa"'"lI~..



The process. of s,ynthes1s involves gen.eTCI't]rLgand modifying Ithese sound waves,. But before we' can start' around 'wi,th these waves, we need to kn,ow' a IUtl~ more whafs inside them. in other wows, we know that sound is made up g,£ vibta~]()nsand that these vib:r"atlons travel in f'onn of sound 'w,a:v'fS; but just ~hat. exacrly, are the isUcs of these sound wa,vesl What are the elements of

The Elemlant& of: So nd

T raditionaUy sound has been d,eBned. as being made U.p. of I~h.r,eeeJeme'firs ~ p,i tc 12, ti rn bre ~ and 1'0udM,ess .


When YOUl p!IIC;Ii;, 8 .s'trlf1:g, lit eal.l!5eS !lhe 51 rlltQj 10 vllb.ra'U~'. ICI'iI in turn (:~U,!SE'S 'the ,air a roundl tI til) ~U):ra1!ft. Til e ¥~br,M iOmllSi In tlt!!) air are' aeund wa.ves.


All mus[ca~ Instrumenes create s Quod by setting up 'vibrations in thi(il'air around t!u;~m.Wh~n you ,1P~ucka on a gu~tarl it. t" . L.'" h ib . causes hl~e:S.~nn,g Vi .rate .. 'W·.n~C , ]n turn senos Vl.~.'ratiQI1iS eo "b through the air in the hn-m 'Of sound wav,e:s~Sim.])arly _ when yotl blow mnto a saxophone, Ole sound is, creart~dby the vibntions of Ithe reed. The same thing occurs in a 'synthesi.zel' f)( 'ttia't Instead ,of a .string 0.1" b.lowing on a reed what you are actually dOling: is Itickl in'S: the' electrnns, so 'to ~peak~mn other w,oros, 'you are generating 'vi bra tions e.],ectto-nkally. The spe@D 0,f :t,'hese V[··b '" . .- :J'.. '1... Itl.e seeed orations d etermtnes P!l'c"" If tue v]bra~ions M,e slow, the pUct. wU] be low. If the vib~atiQns are fast the pUc~ will be high. A single' UfilJ]!t o:f vibra'tion is referred to ·as a. ,cllde~ ,alld the numbe.r Qi,f cycles tha~ occur in a seco,nd is, known as ,the' fre,q.ueHcy. Anorher term us.ed Ito describe the numbe'r of cycles




late lthat '~echn;,caljar-gon to the language' lof music, 'what we

in. ,3, secend Is hertz (Hz). In musical berms ,pib:h is ancrtnltt word for freqwency, W,h,@'H we say Ithat a note played. on a vielin has a frequency IO.~4410Hz, W~ mean that that string is vwibraHn,g 440 times ,(or cydes) a second. And. when wie trans-

mean tha ~ th€ pi-bell. 'of the not" that Ithe violin is playing is. A. above middle C. S,o", pitch @QlIal:sfrequency'; hertz ws another way of .saying cyides per second, and aU of,t:hese terms are :simply a way of descr.iibi:Rg .how' f,ast Of s~QW something is v~br,atLng. TIIft,blre T imrbre is defined as lhe quel l!ty of a. sound! that d istinguishes it from other sounds Eve'ty ve,ic@or instrument has a dIfferent. Umibr,e, or tone color - folt instance r th.,e sOiU.J.'td an loboe haJ5 a of




timh~~'from that of a darinet. Even if both. in-

are playing th ' same note, e~c}~, as unique tonal h .cs that enable us to [ten ~hem apart. That is timbr'f. main elements of sound that combine' to I( rea te an intimbf'~are caUed harmonics. The ratios and properIn which ~hese' harmonics occur determine the timbre of a

a painter palnts a picture' of the sky, he doesn'l reac-h for th - blue' paint. Chances ar,e good that he wUJ also II tube of-'wh~tef maybe some yeUow ~ and perhaps even red, E,ve-n though he may use more blue than anything it is by' CE!lfiehtUy mixing and combirri ng: a]] the c the! d]fcelors and hues tha t the painter is. able' 1:0 achieve the 1Irft:li§@ shaJd~of blue that he wants. TrUI~1Ith~ sky is still b]u'e; is the, main color in the painting, In reality, however, ""t! pel'tei ve as being iust I3l b]ue sky is 'mad _'up of many ~1'If.nt colors w'hich, w'hen cometned, contribute to the character o,Ethis particular "blue" sky. Sound is 'CO]O:r. In the same way [that many color'S can 'fI€ to make up a single color, 'many Irequencies or !S Ca," combine Ito make up a singh! sound. When you hear a Ie played on a guitar, you are not hearing lh~J~ C. You are hearing a whole series of. 'cally related frequencies ah DVe. and in addition to c. m f,act~almost every acoustic (as opposed to electrk) 'you hear is, made up o,f a, 'series of relarted frequencies that
u-.u1 ...... ~_UI;U,_~




combine 'to create ~he rharacteristics (or Umbre') 'of lnal ticular note, These related frequencies. arecalled pnrtl~als~ or Qv,erlon~9. They are ehe result of a naturally ring series of multiples of the' basic vibration. ' guitar l~hat ]S vibrating a~ a frequency of 2.64 Hz (middJ€ C) ~riIl contain v~ibrat1ons ...w]thin the mabli vibration, that fire three .. four (and morel times Hue speed of the 'main ttfeC3U£1ii

above (3: X 264 --= 7192 Hz] r ~wo octaves above (4 X 264 1056)1 and so on. This predlc able pattern is known as the tlA'turcd h~r"110"i'cseries. h is he preporticnal strength Q harmonics relative to the main frequ.e:ncy that determin6 Hmbre o.f a particular SO un d... The harmonic content of a note ts refer~dl to as note's ffarmD'rx:ic spectrum. The main ite.q'llJrency" like the b the painting" ls called du~ fundamen t~ 1 0,1' the first ,[Uln1l:mk i TIh,~fundamental is perceived ,as the mos1t prominm:U
for two reasons. .t is the lowest pi t eh 'in a harmonic series, it has the greit1tes't amplitude (jt is th,e' loudest),

above' the matn frequency


;;h·:irl ... I'lt·..uClleo'u.

v~b,.· .Jtions

~2 X 264 = 528 Hz), a





.un n...

]n s.ynthesis w'e chartg@ the

(0]0.1 Of Iti

m bre D.f a

iby ,adding or su:btrac~ing harmonics.



Fundi map-Un _...-_

@l(~ fa

d Iv iSlll


(i' a ~1Itn,aang ;:J,trln g i

('1 st


jt! .. cdiue~5, a

hlgner Iliiilfll)onle.



loudn,BtSS Loudness or vol ume 0 r amplitude, affec' s sound in '~W'O ways. First, it defines the timbre of a 'sound 'by establishing the relat've amplitude of the various harmonics ~n that sound. If
the odd harmonics of a sound (3. S" 7., 9.. etc.,) are emphasized .. the sound win have a characteristic hollowness to. it, such as a clarinet. If the upper harmonics of a sound are strong, it will havf' a nill&al quar ty to i,t like an ob ne. The second way in which 'loudness ,aff.ects sound has to do with tt he way a sound changes "shape" over time, A note played on a violin has a very gradual IJuack {the' b~ginrrlng of a note)~that is. it can take aJ most ,II full second for the no le to

f(1 ~I 2 3 4 5 Ii l' B 9 '1 il 11 IH:AR NIICnUC


reach mat(]m,um volume. On the other hand, the attack of .a note plaYEd.on a piano is very sudden: maximum or peak vo1umeis reached almost instantly. The' differences in the' shapes af these notes have ~,odo w]th hO\\T the volume ]@ve~sof the notes chan~e over 'time. The changing shape of the vohnne is called the ,envelope.
Pltch, Umbre (harmonics), and 'loudness - these are th~ingredients w@ use Ito synthesize sound ,.


ILl Ci

c ili=



w ::;..,

w a:


FI'U ~~ 3 " !51 Ii l' 18, 9 10 11 MARMIONIC

jille; m'el'~U ampllu.u;tt} lIa o'f harmon IC!5i



sound's timbre..


A wund",s oqraU

!5lt11~iJEI I is r\E! 1~l'ji';adto


~l!l. 'l'O'iu me

IS i'iv!lILope_






. - i\

, .1


w~, iscussed d

briefly how sound tra vel S in 'waves. w~ hav also talked about [the elements of sound: pitch, timbre (ha monlcs] rand loudnes:;;. How do the&e ~lat,e1 If we could take a picture o~' these wa ves ~ w@ we see that every sound creates its own characteristic shape c

The 3C00mpa nyin~ di agram is a computer-genen prin O'L1'~ showing the 'waveform of a single nQb~ played 0.] trumpet. Pretty w~gg[YI huh7 You can se-e how complex e single note appears when 'Y au examine it c]os@:[y. If you play a C on a trumpet, its waveform, or waveshape, looks Ukl."the ace,ompanying diagram .. Pretty gly ~ hun 1 You 'can see nOrw complex even a single note t),J;: when you examine H closely ,All th~ elements of ~ sound are contained in j ts w,a:vetorm. By' ,~ami.n]ng a wav@'f,ormr it is possible to ca iIs frequency. its, ,a.m,pU tude" and the harmonics that eonh ito its timbre. We wiU be u'Sin,g these "sound snapshuts" h: idenHfy t.he w,avefonns most commonly used in synthesis


~ \:. le.I) ~

e Soli!

11, 1 0 a I!J' _ .L 5 €I,

a _ :i! ~,l'!

B_2 5 i:':I

ral_ :! ~!1

a ~ iijI S

~ • .:j iU DE!.

'! 51t!16, S e.ta:

!;;1iiIr:: ... l'1i11'1o

S~l1thesis we generate waveforms elec ~~r,onkaUy.Of enurse, try to do it slmp'[y and cheaply and with as few' com~''"'''ts as possible, At· t:ru~ same time, we W,alll't those few corn_ ....... +-"" till :prorv~d~' us with. the broadest p essfble '''I} aJie ty ,of res, The fcUuwing are thefive most commonly 'Used eforms in synthesis, Together they fu1fU1 th'~requ:iT-t;me]ilts ticned: lhey are all relatively easy to produce el,octronkal1

and the)' each offer a diHe:rent harmonic spectrum, or timSome. are hraJssy and bright; some are smooth and hollow, ue,
rnpl[l~~tr~ diH~rent colored your synthesizer the

simp]et~ and purest 'w,a:'/,i!'efo:rm is th.'@sine WRve. But just as. ~r.DrT crystals rarely OCCUlrin nature, a peirfec~sine wave is l to find outside a laboratory (or synthesizer)., ,M'ost natural .acoustic sounds, are relatively complex and contain :many

tually waw

SinE' W'a;VES, no harmomes. ,A sine W'oIv'e only the fund:a:m.@n'~a]~ The Fact that a sjne W'~Vle is ac£ing~e pure tone, containing no h:ElJIIDOm.ks mak'e5 i'~ a~, buading block. in :sy]]~h~sis.The 'Sound of a sins is typ·iclaJ]Jy S,mOOth, pure, and almost f[utelike.






ru N
:~: r . ':'. . .

>· :.'

. .: . .

.. .' ..... ' . :.:




The Square 'Wave

Of a U the' wa veferms mentioned here, the easiest to

electronicall y is the sq u.ure WQve, ,A square wave xists [two states,- high and [ow. In e]ec~rind terms this is as as turrdng H eircuit Ion and off. 0·0 it quickly enough generaee a frequency whkh, wJu~n 'sent tOI a speaker, will converted irtto an audible pitch, A square wav~ is made onl ~rth@ odd harmomcs, that is, the third harmonic. the

harmonic, ehe seventh harmonic, and 50 on. A sqll are has a (lila racteristically hoI] ow' sound to :i t very much like clarinet. Thai Sawt,QQ'th Wave
The saw.totlfh W'ilve~ also known as the ramp wave, is r:lc~ both even and odd harmonics. 'This gives it a brigrrtt, buz.zy tim bre and 'makes it especially valuable as ,al sound source. (.As a rule. the more sharp edges there ar-e in a wav@fQirm.. the "brighter it wi]1 be.) The Importance of the sawtooth wave wU] become even more obvious when 'we cuss subtr active synthesis, mainly because there is '510 mum harmonic material to subtract from it,
l J

Wh eh of tile i~'t!!!l ImoiSt cernmen ·'YOu k!W whats" doeB, I his dlrawii'liQ1 r€tp:reselllt?

Tho Pulse W',lve

The puis'e' w~ve' 1S a variation of '~.heSqM~ wave. Like the square wave, it. exists in a state 0 ~ither hjlh or low. The dif· l,eren,(€;is that in a square w'ave '~he ratin of the high state to [ow state is Hxoo :in equal proportions - SO percent of the time is high alnd SO percent of the lime' it: is low _ whereas, in a 1'11.3 wave the ratle 'is. vartable (sort of like adiustable rollerskaies), The percentage Qf dme during which a pu 1!31E!' is wav,r euher hLgh or low is referred '~O as its duty cycle. A pulse wa that is, high. 60 percent of tiM!!: time and low 40 percent of '~e time would have ,iii duty cycle of 60 percent. (Note; A pulse wave with a dUlry ,cyd@ of 50 peroent is, in Iect, a sqU;3ir'e"TN,. , What makes a pulse wa v@ so' useful is that hy simply varying th@' duty cycle of a. wave you dras1tkally a]te't' Hil har~ monk content and theiefo.f!@ its timbre. The sound of a pulse wave can be either smoo th and hollow or thin and reedy according, to Us duty cyde. One thing to bear in mind is that a pulse wave with a du ty cyde' of 60 pereem is identical to one w~th a dUi[Y cycle .2.0 percent .. The reason is tha't the' waveform-has simply been inve~ted; but because the proport ions remain the same (20: 80 '01" BO:20) the harmonic content of the two wa:ves is identical

1" Th9 Tri a IiIII Ie Wave

The trla'1g1e W,~'lJe shares some tlhing:s with beth the sine wave and the square wave, its shape is related to '~:hesine wave in lh~,t U has some 'of the smoothness oJ that wave as we]] aSI ,;3 n. emphasis on the fundamental. 'But ]jke the squ~r~' W,8J:ve~ the m.angle wave contains ()lilly odd harmontcs. although in dlHfEm:~f'lt p:ropor tions than th@ square wave, The resul t~ngsound is hollow' li:k~' the sq1JA!IlI~~ wave bu t ,no'~,aJS, br.ight,




~,'nh estze r ls I n neutra II, or as cia se as yOU! can get to It (see I'ntr()d uct ic III fo~' inst ruet non~~I. F ~ndltll,iS oBCIII ato~' seetle n o;~'yo IJJ r ,a;~ntihesi.zeIf. lhii s U:Su sually i,~be~!Bd veo or DCO" Th ere' Shoul d be serne sie!1e et:a.blie' co ntrol t h a.t ,efilable~ you to e noose between two or three d1~ tferl~'j')t w.a'feforrns-, usual iy ,a ,sQUIrE!' waive alii d a saW~O-oith wave'~ Dlut serna syrnth eiS~l.\8r:~, lso iirne Ilude' a pul sa, wave. Try to ~:8jO~ate a ea~h wave·form and IIT:s'ie'n to t he part h:HJlI all"''~O ILl nds t hey C reate, espec~all,y as they com pare 1:0 E)'80th D~~H~f. Th!81:9 aW'tQo~:h w,aV,eI! shourd b~' ruedy'. The square 'Wave Should sound hono'w. ~f your Il"Istrumen t has, a plilise wave'~ f'liiFuj thle co ntnjll t Ihat' 'IIa.~~ the es PliIS€' wld~,h (th'€i duty cyc~ e) err tlil€! wave. t.lsten to how t he 1:~ rnbra of U'Ie wave eh a.ng8s [~rs yo IJJ vall U"Hli IPlil~ w ~d1:h. N etlca sa Ihat fd' a c ertal n po lint as you aria ch ang ~ng ttM~' P'1II S9 'w~ t h i d the, so blIlibO 'Wi III aeeom e' ,Sm'Qat hand 'ho IIIIow exaot I '1 ~Ike· a sQuaFo'8'W8.¥I9i. rn is iSo ttl:! e· po int where t he duty cyc~ e e f: the ~ulse wav~ iSo 50 percent. At t n lirsseUi 111Q t h'B IP IlIII,Se wave is ill"ll fad;:t! t h'e S Blme as iii sqlUlare W'[a."Ie" blU"(;ls!) 1~ ~€








FamiHarlze' you,:soelf wllth the sounds these wave.s

make Indllviduailily as waH ,:a~ in dUfe·ren·~comblinatilons. irhii I. your basic source materiat Knowilli'lg whicllrl waveh:.Hm ~5 beS1 ~,uited for a parthm~ar SOIWlndli~Sn'ual k~nd o;f thillngi th,~t mak~ programming ',ist,er ,and easter, For hrlQlht sounds use a

sawtooth w,~v'e.IF,a,r a meUower sound USE!' a square wave. or & tria'nglie W,SlVt9. The.&e ,are'jU'st generiaJ~ rules .. Understanding the ,ctuaracte.rlsHcs lo,f BliICh wave· is the m a.ln th~ngl.

There are several different kinds of synthesis, that 'IS_ different methods ,of ge'n@lraUng sound electronically. The main ones additive synthf!, subtractl Vie synthesis,~ and PM

The v~ry Hrst @xperimlmts wUh syrdhesls in laJb(u:,a!to'ri~ ,and, univ~lsities, around. dIE:' world were done using tld'ditwe sYHtnesn . .AddiUve [nvo~v't'-S B'en@TaUng, sine w~ve5 and bear a. ctu·ta"n mathematical :re.],~tionship to a fundamflnJaJ. The fundamental is defined as 'whatever bequenc~,. happens to, be the ],owest as 'well B.'S the lO1lldest. The fundamental. is also called t.he fi'~'r lu~nnon In other words harmonics and fundamentals k. ate rea-By the same ~ they are both freq1l1'enc-i~i' whfJl'~. d]s.t:ingu]shes them is. their re]a'tionshlp to each other, A sine wave is it fnquE'ncy that c()<nta~ns HO' harmonics .. If. we combine sine WaJVie5 in the correct proportions and amounts, what we
au actually doifl;g is deslgrting out O'WIl harmonic spectrum, 'jEssen~iaUyl'hat is wh,a't. ,additive synthesis 1S, all about: CfeaJtmg t diUE'renl~tim'b~I!~ through th@'process o!I combining or ",addling"

then. rOomb~ngthem to!create pit<ches, containing v']OiUS hsrmonies. If y!OllJ. remember ~ harmonics are just frnq.uendes that

sine waves,

A.[~hoiUgh today's technology has made Ithis 'typ~ of synth'esis .rElatively inespensive, in the early YE·ars. of synthesis,
gene:r.lUng sound in this manner 'was prohi1)]Uvt!]Y costly, Not only that, the equipment necessary I~O perform. these tDlsks ,[;'ouldJ, a/~ the time, easily :fi'~1 room. It was not untU !Bob a Mo'OS carne along; with. 'his ingeniously simple a] remaUVEl' tc addiUve synthesis - namely s'ublb"activ~$ynt'h~is -lhat the synthes~zer ITaduiaJ]]Y 'made its way into the' hands o.f eager muskians· everywhere.

By ll1e way! Bob Mocg (I kill QIW how te IPN~mou nee' U but I~ not m goln g t~ te II 'YOlll U in add tu on to hlav~ 91 llf'ilvent:edl the syn· n 1htrgl~s. ils actual I'!i a ¥Iery nl cia g uy ~ af}ld if h'e Iget a III icke'l to~· i~ ry time he s been give n ~red ~t~or com iiiig up 'iN Ilt:h1 t:hi e vol I age·co ntre I~edl ,s), rntrl esteer he,'d b I r~c h,. one c't tlhe m cst, ~ntfld IbIe 1nli F1g9, albOlH him is 1:hat he' s st II~al h/G''!' Wh at I m s,a.n ls that 11,IS prett,)! arliliazing Wlhern one (l.lf' UH~ founding figl[Jlre~~i ln af1¥ 'fl'el'dl hasn't been di~Had f'Or a hUiildred Yilafs. lin fact YOIl!l can stili $pot hi i'iI1I W~ I~ linQI arc u nd ~H' ,s,Yl!lIhesi:ze 11' Con venUo flS d lspi!f1s~ngward,s of vollageH~on1:rolled w'isd,()m ,to e,l3!ge:r d~Sciplllesu I marr! ion t hi S,I in part, to 'III ustr,et,e' j ust liiolw yo LJII1Q i~, ~hie fll e ~d oJ e IeC1ron Ie m uste synUI este, Twe rrly yea,~s ,aQo~ G,xcep"t forr obSiCUF8i IXP e.rimente ~n glUl~'~(rf·,th&waY'a boratorl BS" it didn't I exist!

In add~ ~,vesynthesis we' eombine SiH@ waves to create sounds that are rlch in harmonics. In subh-'active s,yn,the5!s w1e do just the opposit,e': w,e start by genera ting ,~ w,a.v~form that is rich In. h.armoni.cs and then pr-oceed to' fU tel:' out or subtract ~'he un'Wil'lted harmenlcs. There .is an old galg that goes a's fOUOW5" Q: How do you make a seulpture of an elephanlf( A:; Jiu:~t ' I large block of stone and carve ,ItllW ay~vE'ry'~h]ng ~hat doesn't look llke an elephant. Bastcally, that's subtree Hve synd:l'~8.i5in, a


The way we put subtractive synthesis lnto practice . us to our next topic; th~' vo~'~ag,e-con~ rolled sy"th,es;i~er,
I don't W,Sil'1lt to 9 e1: !bog 9 sd de wn w'itlh too marifY deli rid t to n~6i' right i8~\'hlllllS~I take' my word ror t'ha ri'ext 'few 1:hlfilgS" ~ wllill be eXIJIalni n g the b ~s Ie prl nei pi,es 0 f' ,syn'Ulesha: to yo IU u sl n g a \lollq e-ce rIlt rc I ~ed m,ode~ !Of an an aJog s'ynt heslzs r, EVBfiI tho ug h many C! f todla.Y':s, :;tFllal'ogsy nt Iii e:s iizers ara net, tee hi 1'1! Ileally 5~leak'~ lng, vo'~t.agre' con'tifoilled t ru~~ Q pe!r.~t~ g prl fi"N::i pl'l9s rem a 1m the n ume, A v'Q~tag,a-colllt roll ed model ~ i:8si,ew 1,[) Lin de rstan ~ and S e~pIalns, more a DO !J1: till e ,enUfie. p reeess. Also, unelr on ~In ils nonk I wi II d iSo uS S o:~h'91' k.ilrIJdls o,f: 'th s~othas 1'5 speOl1 fl,cally F M~ a t yp,e 0" dig i't:a~ syrrt nestls that til as nad 9i10rmOU,s, Imp.ac1' on today':s synthesis. Eh.U'1Ii f!ar clear unds nat,aJf!ld iII'l!g of ,s:YlIlthesi S u1: Imake S, the most sell'ilse to
i 1,





..... :.


_ . .'", ..•.•

.. :.

. ...


pl'cab'e tel 01 hlsr kiln d s err :s,Yll1th1i'si s. (For a co imlP Ieta de,~'llln~,t:lto,n o{ thD terms IfJ,Jlalog and r.Uglta ~ SEie p" 74) I" tlhe se two pafag rap~s a re 'CIOnfu s,i iii 9 II~~ P n; the ~ pedant stu n is, comil n g ki m up next.

!I~.artwtth '!,he baslcs of analog sYllthes~s. Firs.t=f!!@' matter what 'Ih ~ dlg,1 t a loa mp Wilay say- an a Ilog ~s, h eire! to, stay! A,'nd ,-e.tond! armost a~~the prtnotples In'~oJ'l,ila:d re dlill'e-.oUy apa

How to


!Ell '51(:

L!ll pi-.r.lre of







ThesingJe fealu1",e that made' subtf'a~t]ve synthesis possible as wen as, practical was vo,Uage c:o'li1tro,l. A. volltage--cont.noUed device ~£i,one whose parameters can be OO:rrIJho.~.l~d by a changing vollase,
twist ,the volume knob OIl your stereo back. and forth very 'qJuic]dy y,ou can. create a. p'.rimiUv'e kind of tremol.'o,
]I you

~TrHnDlo is defined as a 'rapid Ruc~ualiOlll, in ',ro]ume'.) The p:rob~ is thal~ther,e is a ]imit to how fast you can 'spin the knob and ,albo te :how ]on~ you can keep, it up 'wi thout your hand

getting tlred, .if a. ccmpenent is. vel tage controlled as opposed

to ~and controolloo" it offers, a. number ,of rum pO ItalU' advan~


~,ages. 'lrst, it frees your hands for other chores, like p]ayi . keys; and. second, ]t is rela ~ r-veJy easy 110 pro duee control voltages Hliat are infinitely faster. 'more accurate, and more c'omp]~x than anything you could do hy hand.

synthesi zer 'consists o.f these , · components: an osctllato r r a H1ber, an amplifier, two enwl generators (the V obJ111Je' envelope and th.e .filt)~renvelopel low-fnquency oscillatnr. ':Each of Ith~s~ components is· aChl& an electrical circuit ~hat performs a sp>e:cifk function by ei~h genera ling, {IT 'm.odlfying a. sound. In addition;. each of theSE! components is 'Voltage' con rolled.
A typical vel tage-controlled









I, "

(Now, catch your hR",arth because I'm about to giVI you a list lof e,ontusing acronyms and ,abbr,evj~·~ifjM. 'You d~ ha vel to, memorlze them 'right off the ba t:, you'll pick them 1
soon encugh.)

The abbreviations ponents are as Follows: Ole

08"Gli iJ atoll'

we use


Dd!mtify these com-

V"COI '10 It age·ioorrt fa Uad 0 sc iIIIato'f' 'V'C F "10Itag e·contr,ollle~ 'filter V'CA'ioI'o 111:agecont ro ~h3d amp ~II eir.. fl EN V e nva 10 pel gelilGlr,ator LfO Iolw~1'reqt!I enc:y IO'8CI [I ato r ~

a little, as more and more volta controlled synthesizers. begin ~nCC"laporat]ng digital technolo into the-ir design, '\!Vlesta:ril: b) come across components that
TO' confuse '~h]~

t1w. d;gita] equi valents of ~he Qriginal voltag,@-controUoo componfnts. Whether these components are voltage controlled ,0]" dig,i taUy cent rolled, their functions rem air. le~nHaUy the same ..
COO dl~ Itally 'COn tro ~~&d elseII iat or {~alnrU~!1 VCO} g as DEG d~ ital en'l'l9 lope, 9 ener,at.O'i" (,s,8 me as ~INV) 9

Also, there are as 'many dif5E're:f'lr~ abbrevia ti.ons, for

fi1veIQP~g:e!nerators {,ENV s} as there are d~.ff~r@JiLt akes of :SYfim tMiuts" The most CCHnm .. n of dH~~e is. A'OS:Rl which stands o for the four parts of an. le:nv,e;[op@':attack, decay sustain, and. mf'a5e. You are also Hke;ly to run. across ADRs or D'ADSRs .. Each of these is a type of envelope generator.


ett ac k~ ,dec ~.y~s u:~:ta~ rel B1FjSe' iii


AfHlJ attack! dlecaV'I' tehii.Se

DADS!R de'l~y attack, d~cay sustal n, 1fE!'lease

Two. other terms for LF'O a re $'Weep' and


(moolll.!!IJti ..on generator),


That takes care of termi nology Icr tnemOn1~IrL~. N'ow' tell you whii1ll.t: these components actually do,

.a Th n

O' -.

·s· -.llla-·'t'"'r ,III •. 'w·

oft !~,

An os-dUtltor is an ~]:ectr-onic circuit that generates a cOfils~an.tly repeai~ng 'waveForm. This ICM be a square' W~V1e... a sa:wtoot:h
. >£ wavet ,3, SLllI:~ wave, or anv one: or com 'b· ~ln~.ho.n. Olr ,ir
·.JI!ft. . !UJJi' .Il!:!'ren.t

wavefo:nns. If s like a sausage machine, It. takes all that eleetricit}l',lying; around 1.0. the walls of your house and spits it out into aJ ~ongstring of discrete units :( aves). w



An oscina~~ot as ,~ sound o'SO;U:(:c,e. The string acts guitar and the reed of ,a! saxophone are' also sound sources. is; ,they bdtia'h;~ the vlbratlon tha,~we eventually hear as In a 5,y~the~i2ler the oscillator Is w he.rre the sound ,origin[ll fh~ ~01Iil1. of ,~l~ct:rica] vibrations (OiD" wa V1e'fOirm.s). ll~ the is n]I'IJg of ~h~ audi 0 paUl. From here the' signal travels tiL] components w her-e ii is fihered modulated, and otherwise transformed into a finished sound"

Fte rnem bew u nt ~ ~treaches t he s ~~a,ke r (: 01'11 e, ~~eI}'I h I[ng that II ih,aJppens ~n si d is t.he :sy nth e s 1:Z'19w is st I~i I ill t hl8 'form 0 f ,electr~ca1 eUrrefii t, er \/'0 l'tag a, SO W~U~f'I w,e tal II:: ab out sou IIId SOY~ces or ~lUJdhl0 pat h,~,or g,eneratt og w'a.'il,~'form:s~ 'we: a:r'e: t a.llik ~rlQI alnOIJ t ell ect rie:al s~g n a,liS t h It willi IIV1snt:liI alii y Ibe tra ns ;arm'ldl !'n1'O ,81!J.aib ~@; form" As Ilangi ,~S theiy am :Ui ~ $1:ILiJC lit in s~dIe 't he sYl'!;ef ~ a IIIIU.,eyan~' ara s'tlr~fII g 5 of dan e ~nglelect rons, E\!Ie'1'iIhou glh we t tal k abo tilt ~~ti;H'~ngthle' soune of a 'iN 8v~f,orm 11 ilt 9,et5 to 'the nU~ :S ~ieak,e r tillerel ks no souiflJdl.
i I

'like file' HHler in a swimming: pool or the :fUtel in a cig;a:reUt .a


H1ter in a synthesi zer does, e.~3.ctlywhat

an !l;d'ect lcal cl reuit ~ha,t.fil~e:rs OU.t: or blocks CEil]' ~a]n poetions of r th,~ :s~gnal!airaJ'h~d by' th@ oscillator It [8 not unlike th@ .,{,...,l.. .... trebh! Icass, controls you, f.ind ,On, any stereo. Widl it you can

its ,name suggests.



aJfect the b:rigfihle'SS and overall timbre of ,gjJ sound. The :fi]t'ff aecnmplishes this by preventi rig all frequencies above a ce'rlain poin l from p\8issin~ through the drcu~ 'We' refer to, tn-i'!; point t. as the. c~ to If frlE'q~J~ru:y or ,fi,lt,er ell toff ,~Qi_n.;~' (Fe)., Wh@fl you cut out. du~ upper f.r-equ~f1Lc~@!5 (hat.mOlflic-s} of a sound yO\!











ire in effect making the sound N'duUiEr•. As you, open the later (or raise ,the filter cutoff poin t) ~ you let more ,and- mor-e harmonics through, and the' resul t ]5 a brighter sound. This ~s the

basicprinciple of 5ubh active synthesis. The osctllater ,acting as i sound ~ow;'~e. enerates. a rich, harmcetc-fllled g ·wa'\reior-m. Th5S r,aw material ]s then routed tOI the' Hlter 'w'hkh proceeds to ".H1hu~" t the unwanted portions of the' w'av,~form aUoVi.f~ng Oil you, to drastical1y m'odi.fy I~he sound's timbre,






Tha, Amrp'lifier' B,nd the Elnvelape, Ganeta'IOlf.'

typical Iynthe-aizer" They are eXict~:y the same. The dH.fer.ence is in thei r applicaHan: one is used wi!~hthe ampUiier to affect volume'. and Ithe other is used \Vi th the iU ter to affect ehe ti m bre,
There Ire two envelope generators in.


- ......






•• I







'Volume En -.1'0 p9
w'ay ~n'which the sounds '0£ various ~ns.trl)J;l'mlen't:s diffuciltia-led ~s by the differences in t.he usttapes.n' of the they produce. B,'ll shape we mean how Ute volume of the
j mp-od~nt'

note changes over Urn,@.. FoT'instance, a note played with a on a vaoUn st,arts 'VE!'ry gradually whereas Ii plu:cked guitar :string sounds immediateJy. A note p],ayed o':n a. clarinet will abruptly as soon as you stop the airllow' whereas ad note by strLk.lng a triangle 'W]Jl sound for a long Ume and then out gradu.aWJy" W'e refer to the shape of a note' as its volume
,'lop . , Working lrogetber. the amplifier and an envelo generator determine a sounds volume envelope.

The ampUfi~:r is an elec rrica I circui t tha·t is capable incr.easing or decreasing Ithe ampllmde cf an audio signal, it simHar to the 'Vo~'UJ1\le control on a is teree, The difference is instead o.f being hand cornrclled the amplifier in a is voltage contr.oUed. The vol ~ ges that control this v 0'1t~econ~roned ampli fier (or' V'CA) are genera bed 'by one af the
envelope generators (ENV}. They work in tandem.


The typka'[ en "lie') ope generator ~an ADSR.. has fow

as menti.oned I~arlIer, Attack clecay, sustain and tile are the fOUl parameters. When you 'press down on a key you are sending t vol tage-cont rel messages: one te~Js the oscilla tor which pUd: prcduce: the other i,n·stru( I .the envelope general 01 i~Obegin four-stege cy,de. One stage after 'the ether, the envelope genera lor runs. through its cycle - first. attack, then deca.y~ t1 stages
I f

sustain. The envelope generator wiLJtllen remain at the susl level 'unti] it receives its nID::t insttu'ctiU['l from the keyboard l'ong as you keep th€:l'key held down the note will continue 'Sustain. Only 'when you release the key (i, e Uft your .finge off it), wBJ the len.vel.opegeneratoe receive its instruction fn


the k~yboard and finwly run through the last stage of its cycle ~ the release portion of the enve]op€'.


1IlhIo •• ",""

Hflr.~are the four stages, one by 0.00: The Auer-ck p o:rtioI'!l of a volume' eftVltlope refers to the begiltnini of. a sound, U Is defined as, the t[me it takes for to go from zero ampUtude (0,[, 110 sound) to peak , (the loudest sound), A vtolin has a. very slow' attack. reaches its peak volume grad.uallly. A piano has, a. very sudattack, .rut :r,e.actaes w ts pe·ak volume suddenly - as, s-oon as, a
is struck.

DecAy :refers b:. the next .portion 'of the volume imm.edlia.te]y fo~owing attack, U is defined as, the time for a sound te go, born pe!1k amplitude' to :sustain . Many seunds reach ill momen.tary· peak or maxampUtude during, the v,ery betfnrung' of their volume lRIUooe. s, the sound centimres, or sus~a]ns, the am.pHtude or A lev@J,s, ff and. r.emains at I~.hatfixed Jey,e~unU] it re-aches o mease portion - the 'toad] end of the envelope, A g()od examof peak wou:[ld be' 'the rurlLrutiaJ bl'tiU of a tnJm~t note. The of that sound betw@e.n the' and I~:he eventual mS~ij_ned!note "is wha,t we call decay'., As described above, s,ust'Q:i'n is defined as '~hat portion volume' env€~cpe thar~'remains a'l ii, fb!::.ed level for as long note is he]d, ~~hatSI run ~euns of 'the s,y:nlhes, for as l IS the key is depressed. A note on a vlclin .pla·yed with a would have' a very long sustain. The same vioUn stt' ng; by a £inge-r would have hardly any sustawn at aU· confuse the s'IUs,'~awn <>l1tion of an envelope' with the ' -us~ p
on, it piano , 'The susltcnn, pedal on a p~ano, has moee with the releiif~e portion ol.f· an envelope, as. described.

Rel'efUf! re~ers to the' final portion of a sound's volume It is deEmed ,as Ithe time' it. takes £'0 1" a, sound to. go sustain portion of' its envelope to zero amp:Ultude"

by is released) on the synt.hesizref" a sound enters the portion of its enve!,ope- ili~t, ls, you. h@ar the very' 'tail note. A w6odwi__nd lnstrument has a very. short time. As 500[1 as yotl st!op blowing into it, the' sound A xylophone, on the other hand, has a very Ions release is, it take'5 a. re.]ative1y [on.g time for the note to

Those are the' four p>or~iOIlS of Y'o'iJ.I r Itypi;cal ADSR or generator. One important thing: ·t,[) remember 15 that the first, and fourth of th~se four envelope parameters '(, . release) detlfIlllirle mte. - 'tna,t is, the ,;e in over time. The ~int sustain, is s.wmp,~yif s.ettins of other importWlt th~ng to be aware of Is 'thalt the peak point ~tween aUa,ck and decay at which the



envelope reaches maximum amplitude) Is a fixed set~ing cannot be' controlled 'by ,th@,E!flliv,elope generator, A good to '~hink of peak is as an invisible and permanent s,ettmg

]ocated 'between the ,a!tta,ck and decay centrels. There is an PQ,rt:~n!~ relabenship ~'ha~ ~iSt5 'hetWieen. the' peak of. an envelope, ~nd the decay and sustain (~on~ro]s;:: sUSlh~i~n If is rnaximu mf. then fiepr'CIeSE!,o~ where '~he decay ls :SI€t it 'WiU no ,~ne:ct on th,e so und, This 'i 9 because wi th sillst"illWn se~ at same ~ffV'@[ as, peak there is nOIplace for: the sou nd te decay Only if the sustain '[,eve]~s'less than the peal [evlE!] wll] it be
possible to ,hear th@, decay pernon of the envelope, These' four parameters (five includmg peak} 5E:IIId hls~ru,cUon'S ~n the form of control 'vo]t~ges to the v(d'~~gecontmUed amp'~iHef {VCA), and ]R 50 doing they detenmfLlt 'shap-e or vo] ume envelope of a given sound. 'l~'~s kind of 'Ii~e designing your own cookte cutter . . . l~@ty time you ,pJay a note it comes out in tha'~particular shape,







I ~ .·n~tK

S ;;; S,1lI nliN


H, ~ IFtElfllS E IP ~ f£AI(

LTAG E·CCiINT ~ 0 L liE D S V' rM f'Fi E:S II:ZE A

gradual attaek, a, 'sJimhH y faster decay, a sustain ~d and a relatively long release, When 'W~ 'press down ) tn1s is whl:ID'~ happens,; F]rst the attack setting inthe ampnfi€t to gr,a.d1l1)~Uy turn up '~he note's volume unmfS niS, peak Oli' maximum volume, This Lakes, j !Jist a second" Next the decay set ling instruets the:'lT' down its volume unUl j!' reaches the l~v,.. s.<et by 'the el It takes about Vl, second tor "the volume to go ff\om. . 'N h 1!.. 1L.. • • sustiJJl1l. .OW! onee the note TEl1CuES tne suetatn pornoa " envelope, it sta.ys: the're for ~S' long as you hold down the ls only at ~],e · ,~.t. 'wh.h::h you take y'QU r 'finger off t:n~,l'ilO~@' enters theroelea5e. portion. of its en:vek)pe. poiJ1'~ the tlm.e It takes for- ' ~~s volume to ;go ff\om ainlevel back down to zero is determined by Ith.,~ re, . ln C]lf' example we set a relatively long release, so take!around :3 Of 4! seconds,

as.. vo.!ume envelope determines 'the' sna_:p@' ,of. a sound and. the amp]llitud.e of that sound changes Olver' time, ~ fil~er'

determines how' the' eH'€C.t o(f a fj] ter chan~'es olVer A filter ~nvel0.IPe has thl~ same par. ameters as a volume - aU, d~a.Y'1- sustain, and r,elea~e. \%en you set a af.ta,ck. en a v·,o.b'.nllL'~ envelope, th.~ b~g]nr:bIFng of. the wiUJade in gr,aJduaUy. Wh'en YOIL1 set a gradual auack on


An~CK :~:


IrEC:A,Y'~ S~ sr,Ai NI
H~bE._I~i:SE ~











a filter envelope, the harmonia determined by the' cutoff w~nfad@in gradually, 'With a fn~el" envelope, Y'O'U can stibtly control the arrival and disappearance ot harmonies over time. You can create a, sound that starts '~dar,Jk~lbutgrows a y brigh tier or vice versa, You are ~n,dfec'~ superwmposing two ~o'und. shapes, one D'V'@f the other ~ the shape of a sou nds. timbre over the shape of ~h@ sound's vclume. ThJS [5 one importa,nt way we have' of adding internal motion to a sound. Remember, both of these envelope genera.ton - the one foil:"the voh.. nne envelope and the one for the Alter envelope - are Identical. The differEnce between them is, tha t each is applied to' ,~different component ~ one te the amp~ifier. the other 'h) the fUter ...... r,esu1t being tha~ one shapes volume the and tbe other shapes. tinilbre.




The LFO (Low',·,lfrequ1snlc'y Os]'clll alol,)

So far w~lv,egenerated a w'aVE'iorm (,wr'th the veo}; we(ve Hlt@ned that wav eform (with the'V'Cf); and 'Wlfve designed


shape fot dn.,evolume
and the yeA) as well as one Icr th.e timbre of the walV\eform twith d,e H]t;~r ENV). Now we're ,goins' to 't.t.Ilke 'that waveform
of [the waveform

("with the volume :ENV

and UtBlke U wriggle across the floor on. Us, 'belly Hke a repU]e. !hat"s righU We're guing to add a liU]@ vibrate. Maybe even
some' 'lIlem,o]o. H'er'eJ's,the most important th~~g to remernber . t this point, All the componenes thar~we've mentloned 50 far" lh@ VCO" the V'CF, the VCA, and even the' M'I'O ENV's" are voltage amtroUed.. Th at 'means i~.hatithey 'wU1 obey instructions sent to ,in the fO'rIn of a control voltage. And that 'is what we are ~Ol do using the LFO. Re,adyl An tFO is technic,ally ~h.e same as an ordlnary .... ~I~~.::n'.JJ. xceptfo,t e two "mportant ffeatu~s: it oscillates at: a I~eq:n@ncy than does the main osciUator. and h i.s used as a source hut as a mod' fier (a modifier changes or alters lignin. ItSI fUD:ctio,n is to modolate (: egulate or 'V,ary the freoE)the other synthesizer components. Now. there's a "ery importa.nt concept we're d aling her:~- modu~atio.n,~and it. is, easy I~O get cO~5ed. So 'bear mer because t'm golng to take it slow, Remtmbe.r thal when WI dl~scussed th~ different' and th@ir propertiJ@S I described the' sonic qualities OT1.@~ the sine wave has a pure sound and ~.he square 1m a ho]]c(lw sound, etc, Welt each of these wa.veS,j in to bt!ir:l;! able to produce an audtble signal, can, be to modulate another vo]tage~contro']~,ed device such as an a filter, or even another oscillator, In other words"

signal or d@vic-e can, be used



or as a

drpend.i:ng on your .l'H!@dsThis is important ..

Ito re-
















member because as. Wfl' go on. 'we win be running into lTU}n!. more @xampl@s 0 components doing th~s. same k~nd of '

As ~.said earlier r t'he other thing that distinguishes IF'O' from your rna in source oscillator is the fac~ that it a tes a :muih lower fmqlllfmcy,. 'Let me explain. The human (as opposed to the rhincceros 'ear or the ,I' orcupine ,ear) is capab]@ ,of distlnguishing audio frequMci@5 somewhere in the range' ,of 20 Hz to, 20 000 Hz. {This taJll,g@drops dr 'maUe-ally

you ge,t older and espedalJy if you exp ose yourself fa mor-dinat,ely loud rn usic, Thisl is no j oke . DOfi{t forg-e t Ted N ug@nt

is now dea·f in one If,M. So w'atch itU This is known as our audible' tang,e. Rememb~r. Hz means cycles (0([' vibrations) pemsecond. U an oscillator ]8 g~nerating less than .20 cydes per sec-, omt we wiU no t· hear it as a .iPil~C'hedtone but ,ra.ther as, a series of rhyth_mk pulses, However", :if we use ,these slow waveforms to modul 'te another waveform thai't is within the aadible Ian,gE'f. l~i presence broomes imm:edi.aJlh~']Y evident. This, is ho·w we get vilb'rato and tremolo, W!f use a very s~O'wwave to modulate some aspect of a normal aud~o wa vie and we wind up WI{h it. ['lorma~ wave with ,SI. wilGle in it,+ Allow me to, illust"rare. Im~gJne 'tha. you are sittil'il\g on a motienless 'trai-n waIting to puU out of the station, You"re' g:e·~ting~@ry bored, 50 to help pass the tfme you t,ialk,e out: a piece 'of paper and 'sltart drawing wiggiy lines on if. with a pencil. Sudld~n.~yIt.h·e tra~n pulls out lof the' s~~Hon, but you are so in~o y'OUf' dra.wins that you cal1tt stop, 'Wh,en 'You. HnaUy do stop you look down ,itl,t your drawing and dfscover Itha.t what started. ClUit as a wiggly llne lurned in ~o a sq:uiggly llnle as so on as the train began movlng. The' basic contour oJ 'your line' stayed the same but 'the vibration of the train inij ueneed thfl' overal ~shape' of the w1'ggle' by imposing Its own movement onto [to The mcrlen of )f,our


drawrn,g hand was modulate.d by th~' j'iggnn,g monon of. the' ..JI",jfa d . L • f tram r'f'o.S~wWlg . ttH)ULim:ll~.:. 'WlggJe o'r Wu3l:I,;', we nug h t now rarer m to as a squjggb~+Or to put .i~ another way.: wiggle + jiggJ.e
I .. ~:... .

squiggle. That is how an LFD works" The main ,oscilla~or 't ion (J ··n..... ~ c genera~es 1 s own version of a, Wl6&'Y .u;lne~,a w.ave~orm.~Th e lFO ~nerah!s ,Q) waveform sim]],alr to the main oscillatcr (usu.dy· a sine 'w~"ve)but of iii much hlwe:r fr@quency (Le., thm are only a few cycles per second). We do.t{'t he a, the lIas wavffoml because it is .[U]t sen~ directly ifi.t:o.lthe' aml.ldio' (also because it's frequency Is too ·~ow~o be distmguished


UiD ...

,ose ~


U:1lI1 + '¥OF F~L 1m MIDlIIlATIUH IILFD -t 'Ie e ill'RE!MOl.!D




as a p.itch);' :~mt.ead.~, is tlS1@d as ,~,control velrage I~O "' ~ i~ ........ either the VCA~ the VCOi~ orths V'CF., S'y dot].E!!!g it: is SOc< modu'~atin~r those components hy im.pos]ng ~t~ own n"", ",_

characteristics on each of them, Those' are' as f,ollc~': 11: ,an LfO grulEEr.,~tes, a sin~ that is. u~d 't (1 modulate the ·VCA you get t:rem,o'o. T . d@fin}~d as ,~peri odic fluctuation in ampBtudJe,. U an ·LFOI generates a sine 'wav~ tU1Gd Is used ~Q modulate the' VICD you get vibrato'. Vibrate is, d,e[med as a periodic fl~(b.tatio.n in pitch, :IF an LPO SEffter,atesa sine wave tkat ls used, to 'L . r., .-lII f"'" L'L ,........a..: mo dul y_ale the 'V'C"F'you ~:et Ell :mouuu..:t~~1j;iIi,t,i3'r.'CJlUleT WVL'LI\ " '.' a p~r1Qdic opening and dlosing of the filter, Anoltther way of, the lFO is to use it ,~o modulate the pwse width., When. W€ discussed '~hepulse wavt you learned that b-y. ~buing the 'width. of rhe pulse (the du.ty cyde) y,ou change its timbre. U:smfh;ga 'signal ,ge:n@[f,~.ted the 'by tFO we can impose a pe.nod[c .fluc~uation. 0.:11. the pu[~' lYidth thus, addin,g cendnunus motion to the waveforms tim.'hre. In addition to the sine wave, most 'L_FOs oiI-f.ID.' a . ,of. ,:a t ~@a5itone or two other wa.vefonns,l 'IJSllaU,' a square Wil ,i, sawtooth wave, Or' a hiang~e wav1e" Some systern...s I~Her a random 'w,aV€.f:,oflf~ or wha~ is also fief,errn'~d tOI ,a;s gm.p,te M!.d hold. W;e wiU (lover this, in a later 'The main '~hing ~o remember :is that the LFO is the main. '50ll:fCe of modulation.
..,.J' 1

50_, ~h~ Q~cUlator fV'CQI or.' DCO) ~enETa:~esl w,avefcnn~ tl1f a fU,te.r(VCF) chang~, the trnm.b.~eof. the. wa'Ve;~orm,; nd '~he a ampUfi,er (V'CA) a];ong 'wwlh ,the ffi'vel,ope ,gtru:f:'a~Qrs (ENY 5, cr ADSRs) determines the shape' of the waveJo,,l"',rnls, volume atl.clJ '~imbre'" ,F.i.naUy~ uib,~ the: '[ow frequ.enC}l ,c;iti_[]a eor (LfO) we am' ab[e to impar~' ill, little vlbrate 'Or' tremele ento 01U' frieind1y

wa Y,~fO'Hfi"



the bas~cs,

Y (HJ generate a 'wa:v'@f,om1. and thlFft. you :modify ~t, There' are m:iny different wa:y.s Qif tfiodif.ying, 'the basic: w·av,e__. £:/. an d wt]] tr iii. - .... v e:r,.... many . if th-, -.:- - - .. '-.'.. . . _ . ·form . _. .e. ry I!.O COl . as ': " en.. em as w@ Can. Of course, the' hard part ,of iSyJ.ii,~hes1s is 'cc,mi n~ up 'wi ~inlternsting and :suhd)~ ,comlbinatEo:r.s ,of th.'o~~' diHerent t·&htrtklues.




"E' ..: . ' TIH'.. - -... .I_i 'I.'Z'ER-:-..' .,' '.

r·· .

O'M·········.·· .'-O······... /N····E····N.··········· ..····T·. -S·-.···,

_ ,_,





,A Synlheslz,8'r Flo'w elha"

Ihou t DOW would. be a good finu:l' to :f,a:m'i~iarize'you 'w~'~h or block diagrams, a f.ew·of whlch you've !~lf!e~dy Thtse dtagra:ms, show you the :sffignall.f]ow· of y'Our :syn \poic@ mocly1e. In other words they U]us'trate' the, path ftom the keyboard to, th.i~ osciU.!~J'~o], ~Q tKe· HheT. ~ enVElope generator to the amplifier and final ly' to th.e' . It~!i ot as;complicated ,aJS it looks, Each component Is n rd by' it ~'ktck.The signal Flows from .l:e_ftto right .. I~ ,_, ",.... he hot tom Of ~eh 'Side 0 £ a block and exi ts from .... t or righ'~si~' of. a block.~ ·tines tha't Ifn'tE'r from the bot-control signals (aon.t~ollvoltages], L~n.estha.t 'enter from side are audio s~g[1aJiS'l' h~.t is, the waveform tha:t t
u -




at the: osdllater.





So~,Ior instance. in, t'he ,accompanying diagram the keyboard sends a c«;ntro~ signal to, ,the oocll1ai~o.r telling it, duee a wavefor:ttL At the' same tlme the _k,eyboaTd. send!ii s:tgnals. 1"0 both envelope generators insh'ulcting them in rum send envelope instructions 'to th€: fiher and th~' amplifier au.dio signal generated by the Q.5dUa'ti(tI' travels 'through the nJl!er where i'k receives its i~ter env @lop@and then on to the
I l

ampJiHer where ~t receiv~s its, volume envelope .. 'F]naJly it travels from the amplifier to the S'pealker to your e!LIrS,. Got


Good. N,O'w'~ let's 'make it a UtUe more compl1ca,ted one other component, th~ LPO. See how the LPO control signals tljll ei ther the VCQ,f. th€' VCF.! Om' U'n:@ 1 VeA Signal-now or bThoc'kdiagr.ams Me not t'h~t hard w Hgure' out. 'They only leek complicated because of ,I'~] those tersecting lines, Take your U:me and foUow the paths leading from ,~ach component to the others. This will help 'you to understand exactly what is ,gcOing on there ins,ide of you~ synthesizer. It is also the best wa y I~O ge:t a sense of !the m,u1tip~@
moauJaUon routings
that: are possible on any given 'system.

ISlB CK O'IAGRA, W~'H l" F 0




....-, .. J. __,.,.., .
IL......~__,-~· ...-·i3 :__'~ __

-=_~ __ ~ __


NT I'll E8iZlEA

CO 1MFi'O N E rr4 rs

O.K.• now we :stan: i InJgl dow n to 't he. n ~Uy9 rlUy. 11'1 DliI 'va Y IlJi~:'nnl shed tl'ill s seetlo n, ~elax and le1:'It s litnllk in ~or a wh'! le. Go halls a cig,ilJieUe' Dr che.:w on a carro1, or so:meiJ: h ing. M ak'9 au rei thai I he ba!jh:; fu net 10ns of t lu~ com po nen ~s I' '!,!Iejuat tleS~.r19d-' he 0 SIC III8,tor, 't hie f~ tter, 'tih'l am pll l'f1 e r'l' thl€ e nv,e lope gefu~ra1ir;H,s ~nd th e LFQ = are clear in you r i11 mind. Wh at. I W',ant, to do now is :Ej,tart a.111ve If agai nand o descrl b.e In €!,ven rno reo!lj'etall h lOW each 0 f these b~,lc 0'0 m~nent~ o;pa ra1;es. 0 nC,e I!VIe done th at I~ be able to Ibe'g Iiii InII troC uc;in~ all ~he- c,the r eern penents nf a ,S;:6.Intlnesize r iaJl1d r)escrllblog how "t hey interaet w l'th eaeh o'lh e ~. So, a III re,ady? One,more' timet, (N'o'te: An y COl IIIrQ~s 'llhart are IP~ I!Jn~dIn ,t he aeet Q01TI?afly~ngdiagr,aJms Ibut not e·xpla~nEHj ln '~tnischaoter will be CCYered In Ch,Elp1.elJ' 5~,~~N,e,BltEKtra Fela.tures,,~i I

Mara about O,scill~la,tQrs


look at our typ~,eaJJ.osd.Ualtor. (S~€ accompanying illustra}What foUo\"rfS, re some ecmmon seleetsble and. v ariable a youll Hnd onmost osctllater banks along with some inhumation about eseil lators,








RANGe 16' B' 32




• w_ .._~

banks come wUh a swuch that lets, you, CJiO ose any one or a combination of several dif.f.e~nt - usually ,a! sawtoQ'~h wa ve, a i5ql.lla:reor pulse wave • waVe"., We'v@' alnadly learned how' th~ typ~ oif W~ stilr~ m,th has a, lot to do \Ni,~hthe timb];;e of a


PULSE Wnn1tf


osc. B.
lall~ 32'

'R -'~~E




Next' w[e (O,'mE' to the: escillaeor's fr.equency or


This, control aUows you to change the frequency (the p.ildt) the oscillator by ,i91S much as an oeeave or more, As we continue, you1~ Si€e' how the abl.~ity to cenerol the frequeniCY of oscillator gives you added f]edb]Jity when. creating cunds.

Ke,yboar,d Conlro~ 0" the OSCi!IJIBtOf'

The' gn~'at thing aboll't a vohage-con~oUed oscillator (VeO) . t~at in order to change 'its pitch all you have '1[0 do is, thE! voltage ,that Is controlling il. In fact.. that is how a si:ngh~ osclllator p'roduces pitch over a range of s@v'eral octaves. you press a key on ill 'S-Yflthesl.z2[. you send two vohage messages -- one to th-e oscillator and one to the envelope ge erater. The message se'n'l to the envelope generator signals that the note's envelope should begin, The message that is sent [to the losciUator ide:rntiHes 'what kery is being played according I~O ~he voltage of that key. A 'synthesizer keybcHJJrd oper..

en .



on the basis of 1vel t p~.r octave. If low C is represented o volts, then the C an octave 1!.lp wcnru]d be represen ~ed by 1 The. n octave above that would be, 2 vorntsl' @tc. An inin vo]t~ge of. ~.:Il vel t w'ould represent a haH 'St,ep (there
U equa] divisions in an octave). Using the principle ,of cllln~rro1 the keyboard is contlr-o,uing the oscillator and so doing is de!termining, its pitch. There are many other 'w'ays controlling th.,~,pib:h o,f an oscillator, we U g@lt to them all in.


~b' rfutlm 06-8

of Os.elll ~aIJOn; er '1'0 1es p


synthesizers today are p,olyphonic. - tha'~ls, you can play

than one note at the same time. on them, This means independent voice will. requir,e at least' 1 s~pat'a~e

of lllse.w w,;ays even befere you start 'mQd.]fymg filtersand so forth.

example, an. ,S=V01c@ polyphonic would osdHahJrs. ~.nfact .. most synthesi.zer.s actually' have 2 pel' voice I~which 'wo,-uld mean an, B-voke po]yphonk hive 16 0. dllators). By giving you 2. oscillators per the synthesizer allows you to vary your source material
50 flOt



very ~mpDlr.talrlt fea ture of having tlIVo ,osdDa,to.r:s pet'

that you can tune each of them separately, 'There are ippHc:a.~ions o,Ethis techrn lque, One is that Y'QU can tune
escillator to some harmonie interv a] 0, the first . Octaves would be the most obvious example of this, blend 0 r an ()cti1V~ Cit even a fifth can add a lo,t of and power to till sound, Ev-en nenh rmontc ~llteTVals .rol for certaia Umbres such as bell-like eff~ct:s.


Dalunilll9 or Fine 'Tunilng

Stl]] ane ther ex ~reme1'y useful t LUiL~ng application is as dJe1tuning:. Detuning means tuning one o:sd]]ator just sha r'p' ,or Rat (less than j,l, semltone) of the other ......."-'\_ ,~ ..... ..... result is, a 'kind of ell orus effK-t ,"H' f,atte:n:s up th~ 'sound stderebl y and can mak.~ a bor]r1l,g 'sound quite ]n1er.~ting. (S orne single oscillator synthesizers have a separete button jl'U'~t ~or this purpose.)

Many osctll ators lnd ude ,~ ran.g~ 0 r an Ocf3JW' swi t(h.. moves the frequency range {pitc.h} up or do~, by O",-u•.r..-, function ls S1 mllar to the octarve drawbars an. a Hammond organ and in Jact the, ,lJ:'aI'ilJge M'~!c:h@s 0]'11 today's . 5 sHlI lise organ shorthand to label th~ octave steps. The in:g:s 31;1, l>fl, HJ', 4.1.'.. and ,2f ,r.e.P~'fl'~ the different lengths feet) of the actual ]J]P@ an the' ~~r]y pipe orgaes. E,ven we have tr,~rl@d 'in our pipes f,ol:' oscillators, the me~ninB numbers remains the same. Every time you dO'IJ.hEe iii tr..iI'"PtnJIlIt (or cut a 1ength of pipe in half) y"QU, jump up' an ortave.

S,ub os:clill B.1:0 r

Although 'most synthesizers today ha:ve' two oscillators per voice. there are still some that oHer only ,I), single escillator, These single-oscillator s,y:nths. of~~n come equipped wi'~h wh caned a subosciU(ltor. A subosclllator is a circuit that' ~~C][Jn.q

doubles the oscillators pitch art octave below'. It. acts almost a separate osd.]]ato(f but ]~ d~[+\I'e5, ]'~S pib:h directly' from the main escillator so you. hav-e rto independent control aver it.

Pu ~sa WhUh 8ln,d Pu 11~1'f3' 'Width Nhldlu1laUon U a synthesizer aHeol's a choice 'of a pulse wave, t,hen i,'~ win . include some kind 'Of con.tro] for changirsg I~k~ pulse width {PW). I f you were'noi't wa~ching: t,elevi5[on at th,@ time you
were reading the secrion on 'W'.2IivdonTI.s, you. will remember 1hat ~he tim bre o,f a pulse wa ve wil] change according to its duty eyele or pulse w]dth. 'V'e'ry often, immed~a te]y adjatent 00 the pulse math control you will find a con trol labeled 1'!II..dse: 'width m~ dlulati,o'D (PW1vI); This control d@t!@.rmi~s th@, amount of modulati on from the' 'LFO. By modulating the pulse '\Nid~ 'wUh the' lFO what Y(N,l achlev'@ is a periodic change in timbre. ,chang@ l.n timbre is similar in some ways, to what happens 'when you mcdulab~ the filter wi.tlh the tFO" but the 'eJ,f,e:ct is not qui te as drama He. I t: is rela ~ j,ve-1oy ~ubtl~ burt 1lls:eful nonetheless.


Any s~ntk~siZ€!t ,that offers a pa~!"() escillators wiU also in=

dude iii knob or po t for the pUrpOSi@ofmlxing
balancing the' ,amp]jrude of ~he ,two escillators. This allows you to se t outpm, of the t,wo oscillators at equal strengths or, i you ~~,; to have one oscillator louder than the other.

'" ,

'?. ..... ~~


1108-,'· O:)I!··
1~' 10


<: 27 In

!?4 2 r:: _ .J


u 2u

.1 ..' _. .~:



II' ~(~;

.... II:



."), )


' ~ -, 11



the exceptlon of pulse width modulation, all the typicajJ fea' st described - and t,hos@inclu. e waveform u tuning and detuning [chorus], range, subesetllater, pulse and mix - represent dif~etefit wa,ys. of va_rying your basic

rRy(-im"'C~i --'B,III
~~, \,\_~7~1rI!!

-, ,


maR'eria]. 'That is, even before we 'sta'["~to appl y fil~e.f6 or ..... I!ln,!,Vns to th~ basic W,I.Vletorms, ~h.ese featu,n~5provide us, the abmty ~D begin designiog: sped.fie sounds just by mbdng blmding. the oscillator's output in 'various cO'Iillfilgurations,. - ow lef apply the AJ tier again .' . .




<: .>

,. .",


.- : ,~ .

j::RE.0.oiJ PW.!II!!

n' . ·11


DC01 ,flnd DCO,2 Q{lil maps, to&rCIIIB.'t.or).


1M ore aau--I F I 1181rS - - b"'1two must important controls on a typical Hlter bank are

cutof~and re onanee.

kn,o'b 01" lever' is 'w,hSli'~ 'you 'U:sE' te deter.mine' a~. frequency in the haemenic spectrum thee .rHte:r 'will take Ii it is,all the way down 101" to the J'eft th@ filter' is closed the hlndlam~la]] frequency wtll be heard. As )"'OlU turn to th right" you olpen th.e filter and thus aUow mOF@ harmonic to. pass dU'orUgh~ he more you open I~be the brig_htem:- th,~,ound. s




Refsona II1ce
.Immediab~ly adiaeent tOI the HIller 'CIllbofE c·o,n~ro~ YO''U will find the f.esonanoe eontrel ~ Re50~1d11:Ce. also known as .emphasis. fe:genemt"iol1.~. OJ' Q.. o!l:un:t:ro]:s the amoUJn~ o~ :~eedback in. the' fn~er.. \I%.en we: takE' pad lof the ,a!Jlready filt·e:~ed. signal and £~ .it back into th~ :f],r·~ it. has the @Hect of ~mphasiling ~he ft:equeneies right· around the miter::; cutcU point, l'h£s adds a

c·.roundness,~J'.and .ndepth" to the sound and ha5; 'man;y useful

app:]ie~tiilins,. OJU~ ~nteresU'ng res1ll'['~,~dresoeance Is tha t as, YO·'!J, :iIJl.'" crease the ameuat of feedb·a;ck to' ~h.e .fUt·er ¥I]IU. reach a p [dn't: w..h~~ ,the :n1h~rili'~s@lf be,gins to ,osiCiU.aj'h~'.~~~a.tin8 it~ Q\W ,iaJudibIle .frequ,@ncy :]1l15~ ~n ordinary osetll ator ·w·QuJd. This mean as, th~t if. you. choose to )"Ioucan use the' H~'l~ras another sound

source il15tead 01 just as a sound ·modl~Her.. The particular sound ,of:an oscillating; ftlter has ill rbil.g~ngIquaHty to ]~and is useful for many dif£erenl elfeets.

Envelops, ,Amoun'~ :M:ost. .fil~e~· 'banks have a. control ~abeled envelope amcunt.

,eontro] determines the amount IO~ eHect that the Ulter ,enveIQ]J 'win have on the filter. With the envelope amount set a~ minimum, the filteir envelope will have' no eH~c~at all on t~h~ .HltFJ li.. t. .111· -lL' '~O tmat even ir you ULe!$~gn . 'V@Ty w:amahc .iI:!'~ a ntter enve lone i ope l't 'wiU not be heard, W'wth :~he,enve~lope amount control set at" maximum, the :dsirtg' and -biUing effect of the fi1ter envelope

the H1ter wil ~ be evident and the .filter' wlll perform acror(Uns to '~herate and. level parameters S1E't:'by ·th~' U'~i@"r f ~lilV~]Op~'.







hy foUQW is a. hJllC-~ion tha'~ enables


determine whether a 'sound' 5 timbre will be the same or d]f~ as you. move from one end o.f the keyboard to another, WhetlJ y,ou pi ay a. key on a synthe:siz,er keybo ard, the ard sends a vel tag@-contnol message I'D the' oscillator DIlLit as, to the appropriah pitch .. At Lh~same time, a. l!S5oiUl\:' is sent to the fn t.~ so tha-t the fU t er ctnoff PO] I1t win Pf!OlpOiL"tiona'l [y to the frequE'ncy of ith~ note being This is n!f.erred to as ~eJboard tracking. If this wen~ the ease, dlis is what would haJppell: Imagine that you ~t ~he frequency cut.nff point at 440 Hz. If keyboard iltlJlrw~ were' not in effect then all the notes below A 440 , be, unfiltered, and conversely all the' notes above A 440 d be filtered. For certain effects this might prove useful. in mast instances it would be for all ,of the notes

the keyboard

the same relative of fi]tering~ That way all of the notes of a given sound have more er less similar timbres, Now ~ as. I sald, the:_fi@ are instances Wh~T~ you mjght lM lower portion of the keyboard to have a 'sHsht~yor drasticaJ]y differen.t timbre from the upper porUon of the' POl' instance most acoustic [n5~rlJmeJ,l~s o ]I'L fact d

to have approximately

a considera ble change in timb~fJ: as they g.O from a ]IQW to 1], higher register. Being able to control keybeard
gives you the abIlity to replicate that c.h~racteristi:t. synthesiuJ"$ allow yCIU to t urn ·~hekeyboard tracking on or loff some offer a !halfway setting, and there are a are varia hie.


'Kind_- of Fillers are several dl.if£lf::re.nltypes ,of :fU ters, The most common is the one I have' already described ~ known as a low..
, Mthough most synthesizers use a low-pass Ei] ter, some model s ~ha t. Df~er one- Of' two-fH ~~r options, I ·be them all for YDU now. A low-pass .filtel" is a . Ircut t tha'~allows the low b~

A,A "'rt


quencies of a sigrud to "pass" through while at t'he 5ame :stopp:ing, all frequencies above a certain point. A high-'p!l9$. fiJ~er does [ust the OPPQJii~te. It
of signal

th~,t is ,l)bCnl@ a certain bequency to

certain point to' pass through, whtle blocklng the rest 01 signal on. either side of 'that po:in~ '. A rlot" h fi.lter does the OppOS1 te 'of a band-pass It blocks ,the signal a,t a certain f,~ue"ncy Vi,.l'.hile ,allQwing ,[1e5~ of th@signal on ei~he:r sid~ (J,f that fr~uefiCY 10 pass through, Each of these dJjf.£ef'en~ kinds of filters offers a ferent way of ch~ngin-8 the timbn;~ oif a 'waveform bat tuncttoo in the same way - 'by 'su.btr, portion o~ tne a gbil,~l audio signa;]"

thr-ough th@, circuit, 'whlte 'blocking the lowe]" fl-fqlll~mies. A ban !I-pass .fili€n" allows only those heq'

As :n indicated

,aboi\il'@, th~' va5J~ m,ajor['~yof fibers


synthesizers are low-pass Hh:€ts so tOt co(nV'~n]efilC~'S!iii.kfl unless '1 sp-eci~'yotherwise, when Euse the 'weird H[be:r r n,om now en, I 'M]] be ["ef,enilil:\~ to!a '~ow'~paSi5fl] ter

'Twg..IPol,o",1 Four- Po!lo

A fac~ of H~~· about filters is that they are less than :perfecL diagram, pictured rul1Y$tr~bes how a ~ypka[ fiher. affects a ~L~ The pnint ,il.t. which t.he fiher he.gbijj~ Ito aUenuat~ biilak'll' W

the sign~l is cane.d th~'fi~'~~T ru~O\ff point (Fe). The f,aJt'f of. alb;~n.U2lj'~.on 'iiS, known as, ro,~,lfJff, If. :f]l~e:rs'were perfect, we see an immedj)a.h~ and a.'brn,[pt F.oUoff such that all frequencies above the fUl!f.f , :p [rin~wou~d co:mp'lEtely disappesr. In fact wha t occurs is a gradual attenuation or l!"oUQH, The, higheo th,ie:ffequency'~ the less sipaJ is let tJir-omIgh by the f.iJ bsr ~ until





~ ..... ~Ci .......,;.





I ~










IFiPriEIllUENC'IflHlI!5'lMON~ CS) ~!!!!l ~IbliEAl CUifBf\F PO[I NIT





the sigma! is completely blocked, Ra ther than 'being a this imprecision on the part of the a ned o.g IU ter filters will be discussed later on) is. v[ery useful, In fact' Is ~hislmprecision that is ~'espo~sjb]E' for the charrfu:te:r~sHc
. sound of analog siyntlhesi.ller.s. Dif£e:rent fi] rers have difMre;nt ra res of attenuation or . We measure these differences by the change in peramplitude (dB<). over the course of an octave, (Fo,t a comprehensive de:Hniition of dB, S~ Gk'i!iS iU'Y ..) In other if a fj]t~fs cU'toff point is set at ·440 Hz and the perceived at 88-0 Hz (one oo~a,vehigher) is 12 dB ]@5S than 'what was at YO Hz, we say ~ha~the f]h~T bas. a -12 dB/octave characteristic. Every 6 dB of .~ollloff is·referred to as a ~SO a ~ 12 dB/octave filli~r and. a ~ 24 dB/oclta:v@ filter ar,e thWl'lMI to respectiV1e1y a's a two-po]~' and, a tour-p nle 6] ter, Mosl synthesizers to day ~mpJ.[oya Four-pole fi~b~r - 24 ( loctave)1 although some, like the Oberheim series" offer a of I!ith~r ~wo- or Four-pole. Actually Ithe 'on1~lreason 1 bothered to ,explain the diI e:rmce between two-and four ... ters is because fOir some reason ~he"se are ~he kind of th' t aloe bandied about in conversations between s,ynts~and 'til a. beginner th~ distinction might seem imp ortant. not. As I said, almost all synthesiL-€rs rtoday use a foulr=pole so iF you were confused by [any~hing in the last three ................. forget abou ~ it". Pay' attention to W&.aI~JS nex t hs,


our first discussion about envelopes, W~ talked. about the common Ofi€:'- the ,four-~tage ADSR envelope, lid [~ke to you Ito senne other types Q·f envelopes that you aJJli"'e y to run inr~o. The first is similar h) the ADSR and is known the D[ADSR. It £1 a five-~Jlage envelope that is virtuaUy idento the ADSR e([[e,pt k~lr l'he' addID~ion. f a ~ingle s'ta(ge called o that occurs at the very beginning of the envelope. 'This. tearu~E enables you to set a de~ay rof as much as 10 (on. some systems) between the time you. press a key when t~ , :res·t of the envelope actually begins. This can be for creating double attacks, on. Ii muAtiU:mb.r,a1 :system~ (A system is, one' that lets y·ou. play two distinct scunds pressing a single key +) Another typ@ of env'eiope thilt we M1e seeing more of is ~igh~=stage envelope, intr.oduced ori~_j\ally by' Yamaha in the . and picked up by Casie for their' CZ Cl~ The eigh.t-st~ge




envelope allows envelope

remember, to set three ra tes and one ]~veLAs you. can see, ~Ih:e i;ght:-5t~ e

and four levels, U you the· common f.olu·"sl~ag'e envelope (ADSR) aUcws 1

to :s:e't :~01!J.rrates

offers four extra parameters for designing an. E!flvel An easy way of. visual izing ~h.~~ght-'5tag,e envelope is to imagifie that the four level :~t~inB~ are. the ,Poles c,f ,~circus bent

How you H'~ the f~,')ur'rates wiU d~t\@Tmin@h.ow do5.€! tlOgetha those .fouin' poles will be, Remember, ,l~el represents the ill mpli tude ('or volume) of a signa] (or sound) and raoo ~ler· mines how' long .it takes a note to reach each new level. The m a in thing to keep ]]'ii mind is that all these different k1nds 01 envel op~, do ,app.fiCo:::iniLl)'~~~Y same thing ,_ they allow you thliE deserlbe the 5na~ or contour of II sound,





~El ON


A, Thl I'dl KI nrd ot' En,e~D,pe

We have WK'USsed the two main types of envekapes,-, ~he volume, envelope and the filter envelope _. but: on some syn~' t'heslzers there ~15 ;ai, ~hird kind of envelope. This third. ,tnve.[opil.! CaJJ1L be referred to as lhe pi:~'c, ,~"uelo,p.~.The pi tell envelope is cr~a ~~dby ~ envelope lilit

tor identical to the ones used to C_[i~a.~the 'v'o]ume envelope and ~~le fi~ter envelope, the only difference is I~hat In ,thls inst am: ' th.E' envelope generator is,being used to' oontro[ (with its, C changing vol tag;e) th~' frequency ~pitch) of the cscillator (as op-

posm to ~11,e am'pHfi~r


the H1ber}.

As y,ou can see'} this ~svery similar' in some respects to th manner in which I~heLFO is used tOI modulate the osd11atoT fj]ter~ (H amplifier, As with the' lFO~ we' can 'US;2 an enve!ope gener,3 tor to oonll:.r.ol ~:i ther the ampHHer which .gwv1es us a volume envelope, t.h~ filter, whIch gives USI,8 fiber enve] pe. e,e the oscilla ,tto:r which gives us our pitch. envelope, e Th~p',rineip']e behjrud each [of these en vel ope 5 is ~.h.'esame. ,As soon as we press a no t'€ on th~ keyboard, we' trigger the en3

velope gftle:rator, which in ,this case wim send a changJifi,g volta. to. '~heosei llaror instructing it to. Hrst ra lse its frequenry (piteh) at I [certain speed (a.t'~ack), then return frorn Us peak

:then tm1a.i.n,at the sustain. &equ,ency for as long as the key

&eque:ncy to j ts 'Sustain frequ[ency at a cefltain speed (decay) ,.


(sus[~aiin); and then HnaUy return to iffi origin a] fr,e-·

program a sound "',f th

CY' at a certain speed (release). Wha t w'@ are able to achieve with all this is ' he abiHty

buiH-in pitch benet This Ca]]. bE' in trying to' re-create a f] ure_ foil'" ex,ample.. whi,ch has as

A .. ,ill

-4 DI:II D s,::; 10 Rm 0

D 11:1 01

, ~--......




env-elop{I ('V Dhm\ enve:l!QpiB). SeQuem'ht,f Pt"ogh_, f8

j!' • L •• . ,'Ib. one [01 [ts C,r~arac~erll~tlc:s S~]g,ut Sh~f'm pl'~CH art ~h .very a 1" " ,t begiruti~ of each note. Another aJpp]ication might be In. deli

ing a. torn-tom with a dropping pitch. 'Sam[ , of these maneu may seem subtle [fro you at :H]'51~r but you will soon d]sco[ver that H as these very subtleties I~hatmake all t'he dinerence,

Gre about
hell of a lot more 't1O say about the irmpHHer. except, don't let the ,fact that it dQ@sn't always .: p~ar on all syndu~sizer consoles ",onfU5e }NJU too much. Ib main function is. 10 be controlled by either the volume len" or 1he' lFO. Irs there ~ you. lust can't, always see it. In ,am.y bn,porlant to know' 'wha~ it doa- 't ~eguJate5 I~hevolu

AcltuaUy~ th@ce's not


One feature th t does sometimes crop up in th@ V'CA section JS a, g,a~e h~!]ilVe~ope selector. The term g~,te refers b,JI1 ~h@ opening and tben closing, of the' signal path. that occurs when you 'press a key, On a :synthesizer 'we a[~ able to determine th@ precise shape of ill. no te' 5 volume using an envelope @,en'era tor working in tandem with ehe amp.lifier., Early el,octton,jc organs had no such envelopes, Their sounds dh:W not fade in 0:[' ou t

gradually They were either


or off. And when ~hey we're o~ their volume remained at a cons:l',an~ level, Instead .of: their volume bemg C(UJrr-oUed by a cl1~ng envelepe, if was. controlled by an op~nffi,g and doswng gate", Some synthesizers have .a SYdtcn that lets you :~~lec:t between ,3 f>egtw].aJT programmable and a simple fixed gate, 'You would use a gate if you were going ,for a sound tbat ,a,pp,roxi:matoo an electric forgan feeLWhen you use a gate' m.s,trf,ad of a pregrammabl e envelope, 'e $ourul wi]] have a short (zero) al~'~ack. no decay ~ steady S'llS~

lain, and no release,

One other thing: '00 not confuse the ampijlfier (VeA)


the m aster volUJ!Df! c,ontrc,l en th.e ~ynthesi~e~. In fac~.. the volum ' control is just another amplifier,;' hut when we about synthesruzer eomponents, ther-e is iii hi!ndmcy to take for granted just as 'we tab ,for granted the ,fact that the ,mix bdL controls on a synthesau also emp']oy amplifiers., l'@5(!rv'el[he term ~mpUfie.r (VeA) to Me'r to that ,pMt[wlar. -""'.- that plays a crucial role' as one ,of.Hl:~.six main com..._..., in d1.e' bask' syntoo:i.ze.r.' voice. The main di.f.~erellce be..... it and the 0 ther amplifiers ,IS th.?JJ't it i a, voltage-controlled
ier and is capable
sound over tilli@ (as in a volume Ie-nv~~op, or for . Understand?' GQod~

O'f manging the voleme of a

here' we are again, lit' seems, H~~ only' yE$te;rd~,y I. wa~,E!'X,'" the basic prindpl@s of modulation to YOU. hft you want. to know ID'OI'@''? O'.K", 0 .K ..

Wei knewthat the LPO' is used to modulate




1I'ott ........

diff'er,en~ waY5. II it, is routJ@d to the VCA, it affects giving Y'cOu. tremolo :U is, routed to the 'veo'" it af~ pitch giving you vib,f,atQ'. 1f it is r-outed. to the filler, ~:t the frequency cu~o,U ,poin.t glving you H~rter modulation, Thereare three main controls on most LFOr banks, one is rate, the second one' is amnuat, and 'the, I~hlrd



R,ale Rate (also known as 'Sl(H!edor l'eqlJlency, is the knob or that you use to determine I:h.@ fr>equency (sp@ed) otr the lew
queney 'oKiUaUon, This rate usually faUs. somewhere be once ev ery4 'seconds and I~wentytimes a second, Typical vibrai~.o is somewhere around six times (cy,des) a second.

IUFO. Sf.eJ 500

Am,o'l1Ilnt the Now, j the LfO were an audible signal, ampli tude would late into volume. But in this ease. thats. not necessarily so. Because the LFO' is being used as a mo dulator and . is .itself
ADilOunlt is a control that determines the amplitude of

direct~y audible, how its amplitude is expressed depends on what oomponent ]5, being modulated. For ~n5ta.nce, when increase the' ampli tude of the LFO modulating the osdll ator


you wind up wirth an even greater change in p~,tC'h as the -osdnaltor' swe~ps up' and down. Lmkew]se~ when you increase' the amount (th~ ,amplitude) of'modulat]on to the filter ~VCF)I yeu increase the range o:~the U]h!FS, S1N\@Jfp. A[1d~ similarly, when you increase Ithe am,aunt of modulation to the ampii6fl'T (VlCA,)J you Increase the degree' to. which th!€ volume


Detay' is iEIJ control thalt allows you '~O set up an ,au tomatk de.~:ay 01 any'Wh~ b@'tween 0 and S seconds so tha t when you press a key the leKect of the LfOI wtll no't be heard instantly. rather it. will fade in gradually, The d@]ays effect on the LFO is id.enU,ca] to thfl a,ttack portion of an envelope's effec.t on It.he VCA" It tntrOOUGeS the signa] S~O~l]y. Thi s eff@ctoontribiutes enormoooly to the real-time performance characteristics of a sYl"l'thes~zet.[ t __ .~ you to more reallstical [y re-create the natura] vibrato ........ instruments. like viollns 0' clarinets, and all "this helps make synth~i~eI' more of a human instrument. It is just one .way of:making the sound you produCE' mat. 'much more

Haw Is a's good a ,t Imil) as ,an"J to tal k: a I[itt lei more ,albOn..!rtt h a ~t dltrer,ances amtCHlg synth'9silzers. 'B;speci,al~'y where LFOs, conc.ell'liled. As far as. the other five' c.omlPonents go~the Ihe VCP, Ule VCA, and t hie two EN Vs- all~he ug h yo IJ wll ~I ~re1ty &.1nllar. H OW8Y8r wh e "YOIJ 5 tart tal ki iii 9 aDOU t LFO s r boeg in to d ISCOV8 r enerrno US dli ff'er,enc,9s b at wee n slystem s,

lJarlaUons from system to syst:em. e let vou

murt'9 the ILf'O on

f'Qf 'the

mo.~i Ipan, tlhey

the VCA and ~he veo, otfer no delay. And not all :eJ;vs,tems.locate the LFO eenIn the same !place,. For e,Kample, some s.ynthesllze·r.s, pro-

Iy to

a sl~gle deptllil or modurl'at.QII1Ii amDunl rilglhlt next to Hie lFO ecmre I. In Un iSl eaae t h Ife' is norm ally ,§Ij n L~O onJ'off ,adliacent, to each comp.onent that Is 1:0 Ibe.,modui,ated~ the VICO~Vc. F, Q r 'lCA. O~her s;ynthe si ze rs, IInsteed, have.' a 1rltIol".lIIItTll 'LFO a mou tit eontre ~located ~., th eVil C in Ity c'f elpllch B1DCII"IF!l"It Uilt is to be mod!lJ~at,ed. In other words, serne let YOIlJlset one lFO ;:IlmoiUllilt and thon turn It ,on of 'off desiinatllon and others give you iii separate amounlt at e:ac,hdastlnatton, I w M tal lOt rnare abo ut t hess d iffer~rn cas ,EllS the n Gi@d I Ob.'tIio.usly, It ~,5' major difficulty a in a boo,1!!;such as this: now Jrws1' e aware th at t hess d I nre'reneGiS ex'i Sf an d th at b WB,Y deal wu tln them is to, flfst IJ.! ndars,l,and the bas ieSt to apply them to wlhatever system you happen to be' ifl!lth, Doni'l, WOlfry, It wm all become Y,ery obvtcus to
.a while.

s make some noise.





[Exercise '2. Til ' Oscillator

,Start In i'H3IUrhal. LocHlle the

oscillator Ibank on title panel. U your·lill has, two osc'U~ators per velce, idernHfy the' separate' C~fljtr'lJls lor [Find 'U1B IflAb( (H ball!lnce control ·that elil.a'ble~ y01lU to bal the l,ev'81Is between both Q,aH:illa1:ont As ln El(,erC~s.aJ 1, p~al around with d inerrent com bi n aUoms of w[a;vEdorms., ............. __,.., time experlmem with be'lnQI able to b~end th'e1!' waVe both olclUa\ors 1,ogether·. Not onll1' can )'01lJ mht d~fferent wavEdorms togethe·r. but. 'W'it'h tlh~' balance corvtrol you now the y sOUin,d ~oQethe r aft d~ffiere:rrt fa,t FeI1gttl s, Next~ €!ixperiment w·ith chang~nQ the heqIJen either ona or both I05e~Mato'rs Liste·n ·to. nu~ eHact of dl unte'JVaI6,~oc.t,a'll·,es~ 'fif'th:s, etc, Whi~e you'r.:e, doing ~h'sl remern her th at you can co ntrol t he I~H'I,8JU!jJ'e·1,~taJls t the Q

asci Uaton;, us llngl the ba'iamce CQ 11111'01Try dle~lIirilring bot n 0 S~'IIIate rs 'e'l;!lerso 9~ ~ IghUy. on bry 'Q[eUiIl1Q tnern as close to uiilllscn as, po.'!3slblri!l. :and slowly UJIIUi!1 ens of' th 9 o's1JilliEIi.\ors a UUle sharp or fUM. LI the diUer,errt khildJS o'f ~tU) 'that can be i8,'chle''Iled J:19Df1!1f1 ing on !how t:alr ,apart the ~.wo freq'L.UlU1Cies, are set. This. 'S ~ p~ 'effec:t wh Ileh C In 'if I eld a t n lc k, i'at t Ilmlbne. e Try to 9'et ,a hH~11'for U~e en ermous vari,iSt,y o'f rd i'l· Ierant t~mbres that ~fs posslbl'9 to achi'9'V1i3l in the oscillator {i.e"" ale illS. IAem[em be f.', t.11I1a ~s j ust yo,u If' sou ree. matewia~; [and y.ou IhJ",,"enr't even heg uI'll to mess, ViI ~th it yet.
l l

IIabe led frequency or Jjust nll.1Sr)" T U~i'1In. one· way and Ih e sQlilllid glets brig,ht. Turn it the' ,other w,lfBIy and It gists [dull ..That's ~t '~"O Iks- su btrect!\IlS' synttn, At fi rst thIs ~ m.a.·v 18am coarse; but as more e·lemelnt,s come Into p.lay~ you·1i see thet the· sl,iIQ,h,t,est adjrl.!I,stm[en1 of ttn·e 'Uner iC~t'D'lfJ wlli m,ake' a~1 the d iUe ~enceo ~n til e world" NI@xtJ p~ay'whh UU~ re'so.rnance .. " but, 'BE CAREFUL! RISJsonance ~s fee.dback and a~ h~gl1r11&\1'815 this can hurt your ears, Don't be a c.hlumlp,. N,ow\ i8JJonpnce is, a Ullcky contrel, rne d'9gree tOI wlhllC,h U aHect,!j. Ia. sound ean be dependent on a rJrumbe[rof d ~nelre !elernsnt s, For ~ nt nstan ca, rsscn ance be 8. spe 01alll),r p rornouflI cled whslll M IIs intlred u oed briefly as part. of i the Im'er envelcrpe. Yeu II sea what I rnaan When wei get, to enve Ilops generators. Fe r now ~try to get a se n ~e of wha'l it ad'ds to the soundl and h.ow it inttH',a.cts wlt,h the tUt'811' cutoU centro].

Cil:~H3I 2.

bell'c'lsJ8 S. The Fil1J9r ConUnl!le from where YOIiJleit off In IE'lef. . . First f0101 around with the fU~er control (aliso




An er yo u've s,pelll~ aorn 9 t lme d oj iii g til at, try t n GS:

Tum your resonance off. IlJise:mglage (t,ur" oU) aU of the seleclabl[e· wave·fo rrn s lrorn bot hose m;&UQ re, Th is sli[oul d Ie'I\l'S 'Yo LI wUh a vOliee path that lis open but that ecntatns no wav,eforms, i.e.~ yOlu should ihe'E.r no sound, Now" caretully (W,aJtGh your ears) put yo ur filter e,utof~ GQnt f,o,l aorn ewh Bfe' arnun d 6 or 7! and then :slawly turn reS'l'nilIRCe to t:he mIX. What should happen is that ~her'filtH!!" wlU Ibegin to oscUlate. Qllv.i 11g1 off a hligh-p~tched ringing tone. Thls ~s a usable sound, (If none of this ts haiPPEH1· if'!lg~check to see that Ulle envelope anUlunt control and the s-ustailn knob on the Ulh;rl'lr ,enve.llope are both hJl~y open, or ratsa the ~:iItar c ulofff poi nt sorn e me re .)[

Exerc;~sg ilhe Vol'ume EnY"I!ope Make, Slue you've turned that 4" reso n an ce down an d pi e'k you rs el f a ni ce wave'form or two. IP arou nd with tne A DSR cont ro II~ f'o j" t ne vo lu me' e fiVe I,ope'. I,ay Remember evety.~hing ~sa.dI a~out t[he re~ation,5hip bi1ween peal-t a n d su st a 1'111; un I~~ 9, S'U:8I,linl ls s e't Ibe!llo'w mlax (peak,)rM yo IlJ wUl be unable' 10 heal' decay. Try to ge1' a sense' for tlhe contour of '~heenl~,fe'lope and hDW each eomro a:ffects a di ff'ereln 1:por11011of' 1:htSl e nVB Ilope. 099,19" so me' Iii m pi e enve~opes,. Make' an e ravel ope with DI grad!U'a~attack ,and] ,aJr) even more glrCldual release (1Iike. a vloll n). De s ~gn ri!in Eurve·lo ee with a sho rt a1t ack 81nd no relea He

~~kean organ). Maka SIJI re yo IJ ILl nderS1 and the fu n euon of dec ay. Sftt it sHgnt auack, and Un~nput slu,S'laEIil 8l 4. Now, as you mQve the dlCIIly' control, listen to how UU~ p,ftak portion of the, vo1 ums snve.l lOpe d reps to the Ire,I,Slthrerl'v I DW 5rU st,a lin 11e-~el.Th ~s 1.,-11 appenl :slowlly or suddenJy derpending on whrsre you've :s'at h

U1e d'ecll1Y.

Hera'a ,Blrtother conf'us.lng ill1sU::IInc,eyou .should be aware,ot: If lus.tain is at [01 you wm n,ev>er actually get to he'llf' the relea&e. pe n1,i on of t he en vlel ope" lhe, iii ota wi II end8ls. SC 0. n

11 reaches 'the end of' tine deca:y IJOrrtion of tine envellope,. 1111 8 instance the decay cornrol acts. almost as If lit wen} ,BI Ie co nrt [01. lane, more thing to think about: If you se, a ,lang and take yo ur 'fi n g air off llil e key' before til e end 0 f the' )1'1 you wMI meyer actuall'y' her(U the sUistain or lffj'lease p:Q~'. of iha envelrope. lhhs. can be used tor an inrtere,sUng ef· If you set a Ion g d ec,a~ 'IN i ~'h a m ed liuml S ustal n an d ne you C an ach ieve tWOI di ne~ent !B'llve 10 pes dep e nd~ 9 on n you r,&ffiOVe, your 'fiInlglEH'ffom thll key. If you 11f~your oolfor,e t he· sus~,ailn eo Irt~on of 1:I'n [en\!l'e~oped ~,ne 'title f1,O~'9 e n Hall off accord'ng trOI the d,sc'sy sening as If It had a.loll1g


s Y IN'fH


release. I f", on the ot h er 1M 8Jnd ~~j,rthe othe n" f finger), you keep yo IIJr 'f I,nglsr en the. k.ey lnto tihe' SIJs1ai n port 10.n clI'f the envelope, then when you lUi yourr "~nger of" the key ~he note w~~1 end ab r up:t I y ace orld Il11g to t he :6 hc'nt ~8.'I.a sa selt in ~. Whal t h II~ rnaans Is that ¥(lU can design an envellope that will pl9lFt:orm two different w,Sly~ ,~UiColI'dllng to ho'w you play. a note. Try It lit Im,ay see m confusi n g a:t 11r,s,t [e ut il1 wi I ~ !U~ yo U u. nee r~tand e~· lip acUy What Is ha,ppenlng In the envelope generator. Also. thl:!j Is the, kind ,of tidbit that ~3 Ili,able to come In \reF) Uhandt one day. H'Olrr ilb'l 9.' pu IIIS ,~side I' 1:ry ~,o.get e Iear ~ yo IUf head, n hlOw' thre d~ffefEi'nt port;ions of ~n envelope irntEi'r,8Jct, Same 'o~:II Is 'o,bvIOiU 5!, an ill some o~' ~tis r'101 so 0,OV10lliS. Take 'yo IJJrr U ms, l't~ not Iik.e yo u have ,9 t rai n to caH,;h~ s
l, l

IExerchi8 6., 'he Filiter

the .fUte'r en'fi'ielope


The blest, w,ay to. de'monstraU:;

Is to [make surrs that you hIClV@' some wason once ap p ~~. d tc '~Iil'e 'f II ter, S. et. nlSlo.n!Bn~e. ,8Jt about 5 (PIF G. 8 (The reason for uS1ngi IrEH10tilaU1C,e in this 'I:;(,srcllse lis that (l exq· 'Q,erra:tes the e fie at of thrB f ~'11er..) Now m alke s u re tti at you r '~O~ urn e ,elnVe lope is not: too 6. hort, in at ner wC'rds~,see th art the S'lJJs,t,ain.5 not too ~()W an,d n.~tyou have some' release, Fin H~, check that the enrvel'Dp8 81i1i1fNJnt control is all 'thte, w'ay ILlIp. No.w yo u can 9:et cookil n g. F~lrst~experJmerilt with dllUenu,t '1[liter envelolj)11 ,supe r'1 p'a,sedo,ve'r ~CHJ si m p. ~evo Iu mG' e nlve,lo pe, Bear III'l 'fI'I ifld m r tl!1~~, VOU can extend the '~m:e:r rH/elorpe beyond 'the Ibolllndaries e of the v.oltume ,en~etope ~ you hi st W01:tt h(H!lf 'I t FOI( ~n stance, ir ycDU[f vall!! me en 'i;ilelope h,BlS no !'ielease, then no maUI8!f ho"w lortg 8 l'\eh!,a;S9 you ,slet for the Ult.e:r envelo,pe ~twon't Ibe' heard. By '~hl sarne t'oken~ Ilf yo~r votuma Ei'n1velopel has. a long f,elerQse an d you r filter enVledope' to as n.or re'lleas'e, you are II'i e.ll" te ~ear J k dramra,rUC drep-eut of the harmon~cs lin th[!s l]lte'f er(r\lalo'pe Just

as. the 'W\o,1 me' e Iilve goa s ~i1I to. It 5 re I fHi~!5 I po:1 t tlh es~ u e. n th~ngis out to make you aware 0" the boundaif'ia:e;, Df these en-

"Ie~olPes an d how they Interact, Spend &c,me t~ e ,exam I ning the rs ~aUonsh,1ps beIn

tween the decar1 res(j~8fu::et, ,and! .wileii' cuto,frf controle, I~ YOLI put, Uu:;' 'Ulte'lI" anv,elope's ,Iust.a~n at zero and t'he lie:s<,-mllln,~eand,r cutoll,coi1tro!ls at 7' of ,B t:h'en ~)Y'sk'iwl,y adding a ~Jma.11 romOUln,t, 'of decay. In the hlrU~rr envelope yenlll be abJ'1 te tntraduce ,Bl sort crr wow Into 1:he beg~nnif!l9 of your sound, It mB~ take some adjusting of 'the parameters ~ [ment~oned to' achieve t hiisl but t n is., sl'ioUli d pn)v I,de 'you w Ilt:hI a goodl ell(amph~l: lof how e'~a.chof t,tn e,se d linerEl nt hJfllcUon is affect 50 amdim U!lIe nee s the ethers.

IIn Exe rei se :3 w,e


IU,~ ed

'~:heri}S-Ofi,IACiQ oon't,roll 10

1:h ij s tim e ap p,l"1 the fi Iter e nva Ilope' to' t he a,a·o,l' II atlon, (M EiJke s!Jr1e alii the wa.v,efc rm s ~'n the reglul,eiIf osrr:J Il,stu rare hJlIill adl

a,g ~ in, and

fieed bac k t h,at ceuJ,sed tille' filter tc OSC iIllat',e. 100 t:h is

o~'f a I1dl til at 0 n ~y tine' fi Iter ~ 0,9 C IIIIat lingl.) M uch ~"Ol you r SrUII'"'" 5; plFRse W h,~t. Sin oU~d be Iiap pen in-9 is thi s: Wh en yo ua ppil y 8 f liter envJe~,o,pe to ,8Jn osc~ atlrl g: 'f~ II lter, 'YO u C,~il!lS!!3 '~h P ltc h of Ell that esc 111~Uoiii to lOihan 9 ii•. S shou ld n'!l' be t hat mr[IJC h ()f 3, Tihll Sur pr~'sel,i'~yo IJJ thin k, abo ut lit A III that is happe'f"Il~iI1lgl~:st h.aJt; t hie fllter en\l'e~ope IliEi chaf'lging th'9 'fililter oi#utO.u PQlrI~', th,~1:ls, the he:qu:en cy tlJt which 1:ii~' n~h;;H''U3!k:es eUset. ReSOl!m81tea emi ph8!si~9S those fr'i3iClllUlrlci es, an d 11111 case lta serttii no 'I[s So thl15 1'1 ig ~ t h,at ~h,e tl Ilh~~rr 0 SiC III[ at ing ,a1: those i,s I freq UIe neles. Tne ntter eliJ'\i1eJlope ls t h,an~rfore eontrc I~ the' t:reqllJ €Ilf1cl,es ;0 f the escl llafng thJ~. Ii') th is Instan ceo the fill t er en ~GiIQ'p. Is ps'rform ~r1IQaLS Hit: e W£U",9'a pUch, silva 10 pe. Hearl'ng Ihow an enVled ope a:ffer::t s p~t oh wU ~ 9 iVle yOU! ancfher pera peoU 'lie on th,f3' act u a ~ s,h alpeS! an dI eonm urs 't h ~t ail! €I nve hl1pe genera,tor creates. lih ins is Jlust: ,8JnQt h err one O~:tho se p<e~u Har paten es thi3Jt yo u StlIOU~ fille ~nte t:he 0 f yo 1lI~· rai n as. 'It hl8S d b nu me rc us a PIPI! C,8JHon s for Cffe'iit in Q so und eff:,ect:S, p ~tc~u~d pe rCUiSShl'e S,Q,U nds I' et G, But me re' im ~ertan t IY'I I!Jlrlide ~:stan d in'Q why lih1:SQCCurs wi II 9 I~e !i'Olil 'I n ~ Ilglt!r! 'Into Iiow 18ach oJ the,se cornlJonents op,terra'tes 11111 anon to '1:11 et hers an d' U~ wi II rn aik:e '~el e at yO!J a beU9r synt h,estst, PUI t back :yo IJJlr re [;I U ~arw,BlV\aform~ Into this, partch and fllddla ,6IJn)undsorre more. N ate: So me Sly nth is u se a e,i n 9 Ie e'Hlvf:I,lo pe genera,tor far bo,1:h th e "~,I er and 1:11 vo Iurn e 'efllv e!lope,6. S Irf! ~re very ohen IIt e W~ des! Din 1i lter e rlve IropeHli th at ~:o OW' the b,,,s [0 co'nu,our ,o.f '~!he II !iO~lime en ve ~o:pe an yway ~t h:1 sis not, such a 1raJQredy; Ibut ob'!!iioLIIsly these sys~:em:s offer no re,al 'flle)(Jbll.iity '~r11desh]liiin,g a Ulte r r8wav,ekrpe' . .sOlma Qf t.i'n'9se system s co m pen sate ~Q rmewhlat b)i ~,rQivldll a ga'i',e efnrelo'l' (!t (a s Irmlpll 'C.HlloU e nve hllpe t h,Sl1:tilas ng no l&ve~ ch,alll g es') 'for ~:he vo~Urn e '~:U11V19~ pe till us I,eav ~ng th e o AilS R Con1:ro'lls r:r'e ~ to cen ~ [Ithe Ii Iter e nve IClr~u~.n 8n'~ caee, rQ I ~ yo,jJ'r !iys,te'm C!f1~y h,i3i:9H 81n 9 I'e ernvel'Ci,pe gefil erater a ~ct of tnls wi II! ll10t a PIP~ tou g iii fI oogll as . yI'

pltc:henvelope. HOW&1ii.ef manlY aile ;iij'et up :8~' Ul,9,t tt~lel~lIteir ~~l'n·lI1e C an ,a~u:~rn iiifj.Uvilfi!ll-yfllllii'otilCH1i as a piltclh enve~ ope, tho s 'is ~·r,om 1II,e,illlg tlhe filter I rive ~olpet)O c hangle the p,i:tc no"
f ! p

EortI$1I' 8. 'he P~I:ch Efll'lelope

N,olt all II~,ynth~ one:r a se p,~r8blill

oooill ~u t:llitor as w,e' did in ~he ~ast e\xpe J[I'm e nt b lit on liy li!fIJ ng Ij!1i thrl s, ~1iIstan ce we 'iNOlll~dI IOE! ap ~ iy filnlg thle filter env'lll'ope thil maio os© i~tator {the' VOO} and t here[by centre 1IIIi 1:11 ng e



pitoh 0 f the prl 111el pal aoun 01eourc e. ~I'Fyou r syste m dl06SI!'!"t he:~ea sepaiiate !pItch fHlVeh]ipe, you can do most of 1:his &):8r· else using a filter envelope applled to an osemiilt:mng frilter as Exerci SIB 5.) W'~'h~thelryo'urr ;s,ystem has a separete pitch €I'iiive'lopa or wh,ether t he 'fii lter E!'frve,lo pe ~;sdO'li!III ~ as a p1tch nQI an velop 8" you are aacamp IIshi n g the same thi n g~ contrelll ng the pltch of the oscmat,ar. Try to datermlne hQ'w the 8u:9,tain control on ill p~tch @.11I''ilel(l,p8 eUects 't iiie celli og 0 f tina IPIt:c.h iljl'1d allSo how ~h ~8 relates to the enveiope's peak~ if there ts an Bmoul1it control the ef'llvelope~ this win alsc'the pitch pSJ,elmeter.s,. lhe p'fi ncl pi es, f'(J,j" com ro,111 t liU!! range and d Iractlo n u p and down 119 ,ot: p~elM ben d ar'9 thel sam, as t hey werre' k~ e u ~ ~i8JS~, exp&rl~ t r rnant ln wlhlich we ccntroned the pltch of' the oscillating rfilter. you set ,~tlack at zero, the pU'ch will start ,at I~s peak fr."" .... ~..... 'L."'.. If you set a gr.adual attack, ~twill take a :short, wnHe UI"IU~ the p~tc'h reaef ea It is peak fn!qllJ enc "f. 11'you set SW5ta In be~,ow'. lmurn, tine plitclh 'willi either drop sUldde.n~y or grcu:luaHy to the lower freQL.Et~ncy dependl'rng on how mlLJc'h d,e,la'y ~hefe Is.-"y amcunt o,t releaea will C.8Juse the pitch to falll from the sustain polnt, 1 ry {l reat ing a p itc.h iii nve lope W nose pi t ch rises whe'rn you strtke the note. Keep lin ml'nd ttlllS' r latiorlship bEr t we en peak an d s US,t,lin t 0 ai'l.i'O~ any !Jnw,anted IJ Itch JlJI mps. d Go 0 d ~ now try 't'CI c re'ai:e' a pi t'ch en vela p.e ~hat d.rops ifil Plite h as. soon ,as. yo U fieI ease 1Iii Ii key., Q 0 ahead, you can do it U~s 9,asy. Spend s-'O,me trims examining how aU thl9 other parametera we!ve dlecussed, like the amount control Irnd tJ\e yo,1u me elilvehJ p,e, anect 'I:Ii e pitch e n '11.1'910 ~a. lHLa,~ fu r'II? inQI


E;I(lQrclss''r. The bfO' Go baok to neutral. As I warned y,QU before, systelms have d~nerel1lt lFOs; but, weill t,ry our beet Frirst, le~'s ap I'~y'tlMa UFO to the' pttcn 0'1 t fl<l31 oseutator. Fund the IlFO amount centrel and turn it to 10. U you Clon't find It In the LFO section. I,ook for it ,at the desUnat~on; In 1'hlis case, 't h at WO'IJId be thai oSC iI ~at,orse ot ion (the VCO). Look to see If you can ae iect yo Ulr de's~in,11,1 n; to r I nstan ee, Din s.ome o ,synths there Is ,a swltch ill tine liF'O section that allows YOl,I'to nhoose either VCJO, VeAl VCF Dr PWM. For this, example wa want, \0 mJod,1jI ate' the p ttc n so weIll route uhe LFO' to the vco. Got that 7' ~On other syste msro u choose your de st Inat'i 0. n it t~e' de.sth1m!OII'l! as. ~f'li the above wh,en we teund the amoufrJt control in tn-a csclHatorr sectIon., U )Iou have ,SI chol,ce of LIFO waveforms (u!3uaMy ~r~ang I 9., slne er sQluare), ch 00 se a 'h11 m 918 ur a s me wave. If a 1:here- Is 9 n LFO deJI,ay cc n troll tum it to zero, INow wI"! en yo u
1 l

SV'Nl H ES tzs R

c(:nvu~ N E N rs 0

drarnat ie,Ed I,y.

pl,i3JiIa note'! yo.!oJ she UId h,ear t h'e p iltc n of th,fj li10te wo bbll e'

Using the Irlile oOI1!roll (also cailled speed or' LFO flre~ q UlancY}, ch ange the. speed of the mod ullat lo nand I tsten t'o how that affect,s the sound. Try changing the UFO amount and ses wh at 'that do as to t he IP~c.[h ran g e., lille' more LfO yo u ap p I,y t t,n e broader ,t he p ltch rsn g €i. N,OiW ~ ,t ry 'to. add a I itt. I e. L~O d e ~8Y so Vl'at ttl 8' LF-O enters i1r,adua~I y on ce YOllye pl,a,ed a 11 ots, lhls 1s, 'YOIlJ '9 u9sse.d ~ vii brato, Not b,aJd. INow ~ry sam 8 t" trernc 10. (H I nt: U sa the! l FO to modrul ate th e VCA.) N'9Xt rc lite the lFO to the UlltEH (the V'CF)I for some love~y 'finer [rnOdUllla~ 'Iion" Take yo LJIF t~ e do inga II, i'hi s. Get a feel '~\Or' whlot the l Fa m
m i

can do.

Flinally, Ilf your s\1stem is ca~~jb,le ,~)f t, ,apply nne i IbfO to ttH~i P. u Ise' width, Th Is ils PW M or [PuISG' W ~dthl m odllll aUon. Som'B :systeiffa,s have' an Independent !L[FO ]ilJst for PWM., I~n amy e"",e'1Iil1, set lit u[p andl the.'" II st'sn to how it compares wi t Ih 111,ter modulation. One' th I ng ~ ,!iii no IjJ lid [PO iln~OUi~ he re !s the psyc no18£0 IJ s.t le (how 'WEI Interpret sound) p n,onom eno.lIll b,y wlil iclh w~ \te" o'ften perceive an ilncrease In a soun.d":s, harmonic spec1rum as an illlO"'eJl8Se in ''liQI,umB. In ()ttlher wordis wlhen wle o[pen the niter 0' ISJ SiD U nd and let in hili g[her Iharnu)'II1 ~e.,SI thesou nd Is, not neCtessarl [I¥ gleU in g alii "I [Ioud'e:r thoLlig h ~ sounds as i,. it 1::3. I t men1 this So th at yo IJ.I den r1, Slet 'too eonfused 'whe n compar~o.n ing the e.ffe'ct of 1'1'~e LFO' on 'iti1.e' 'V,CA w ~th lts eft!ect o'n t ne VCF. In bem lnstances y,ou willi hear what you p8~oe~ve be a to ch1mge' ~1iI ''11'01m ~ iIII title Mod u I Q,t Ion. Th'9 d i'ffe:re nee Is 1:1'1 Lli at when you nno-~u l,aJt,g t he fUl,er (Ve 19' youl 'IN i I[ hear ,at d f'iilma,tiic change IF'llhasrnonte oentent as we'~L Try. all t h,ese di ff:er-ent [Idnds '01: rned U l.i~le 111S.- "IIb. rate tlfO 10 v,eo" tremole (LlF',O to VCA), Ulter (LFO to VCF)" ,EJn~ PWM~ us,lng a square waye In stead Df! a ~J'f1ang Mod u Ia1:e tihil3l hs. tllte~with ,BJ SqUSJf 8 W,8Y"8 and p:lay ,8J ohord, Adjust U,8 speed to ~our~Ik~ng. o the same, except Im()dula:te the veo. This l'ime~ D because yo u .9J~ IUI!:d og ,8 sq uam wa\l's to mod u late' the V'CQ", t:he pUcl1 wll Jump up and down ab.nJlPtIIY. All of these· are re9lllly, y,ou should ,excuSe] t.he, expr,esslQlilr "neat" effe~t$. Filla t,hem aWiIi,Y, O.,K. noW' ~hi at yo u h av,1 'f am II i8J1'Ized 'YO Ur'sel~'wi t,1l lbe LFO (8n d I f yo u h ~,""e:nlt spent a long t lim,s en t his axerc ~~,es you are de'fi nil ~,a~ n.Jshi n g) what Y<Cl'Y should d:o II s ,go back end y let how 10 ~neorp;O r a~e the UFO nto th e ki nd s. of patch a,s we've alrea.dy covered. Fo[r Iinstance, wlliat hap-pe'ns [11' ap'p,ly we u=o to' a fi It,er e nve'l ope, that has ,8J ve ry Iiong aU,ac k.? Wh at does sound H~e to app~y ,an LFO to an OSc~II[lato'r wholse. pltch Is Ikeady [ba~ng Imodulated by a pttch envelope? You sea, we can w beg~nt@ apply these' 'few eomaonants I nan" n umber 'lCd' II!Imf~,p.Ir'II'combinaUons; T'he Iresult Is, an ~nHnrte vari,ety ot nds Bind effec t 5,. 3'reat I at' s p lUI ~1'€lI111t.og eth e. r'. '

IExe'rciisIB' 8~ rl es ilg n a. pate h wh OS9' '\(0 ~urne e ii'ivelope h:as fa artae k an d a lion9 re Ilea~e.

E)l:e'r!c~sel9~ IChes n a i=l ate h wh,osl va ~ iQ ume e nVI ~opI h,a;s ,B grad ual (j 0111 g) aU aek and ii ,s,udden, ra lease, A.nd adJdso'ITJ~ s Iligh1: oh cru sl !!l'g.

Exe rei Sf}' 110. IDes ign a. ~atc h wilU" a d ramait 1'0 de~.a'Y in the filtet e nvale pe (li! Sa r,eSOIll all! ce).

ElI~r,cI15e11'. Ch~'sllgn 8, patch t hi at uses an ~t.Ssou III d souroe.

<0 SeI'I~ ~ng fill ter at


IEwerei;se, 12;0 IDe:s ig nap

LIFO to title' IiIt@r IUIS,i n 91 a sq UJare 'Wave"

ate h,!, with ehoru s, ,t h at has a vollJ me EHilve'lo pi@ wUh .8. :Sj;IH:H'1 t ack .an d Ion 9 Ire ~le.aselan d H fliIter ,at en Ye'lo pe wit hag r,~dllJ8.1 aUaJckand IOIilQI relsase. Ap ply the

EXBfc ise 13. De'51g n a patoh lU1sTn a pu Ise w,ave .an d set Its 9 ()SC~~ ators ,~n cot a,ve epert .. A.d dan Ite'r' ,snVl8 Iope th~t 'ent'E!rs I tine' beg ~nliliin o'r the no;l'e b ut 'faJdes away b afore th e ,end. g!
Modulate t:he PUj,S-B width wtith U~e 't[r~ai!lgl!e wa.y,e off tbe lFO.


IE~iU·~15'e.11,4., IlJ es:lig1ri ,a pa~'oh whose pitch rises, \j'lihelll VOilll play t t'h~~ikJey.(I~' you n 0 pU,ch en'Yelo p'e. then o,!H~'llllate ttrJ,e,


Iixereis9 15" D~h~,liga, pate h whose p~ f'a~S 'IN hen yo u p Iay n teh I
1:Ii!H ke'y.

EX8n:'l:5B 16. Desigll! a patch whose [pitch first rises and 1hen


EX8fciise 17 [)~S ~gn a. pate h whose' pi tch 'falls, d I,!I rirllg the ra i ease po rU alii 01: Ii~S err'i!'elo pe. S'E!lt a Y ery lion g attac k on t.ll,a UI ter ,erj';;'e~lope. M'od!JJ lat:e t he f lter (VIC F) wii t:h the LFO III 9 a
'!l 1


Exard'Ba 1,8. lJes~g,n a patch with ell Oi'U SI and ,appl y 1:I'n LFO e Ibottl t n'9 VCF a nd the VCA. S-et th e LFO' rata at a. V6'ry 51'0,\11 speed. Cre1ate a '!,I!Q i um e e 11"If'ii,e 'Iope' wil U1ia 'llrery [Ion g attac ~ 8iild release, ()pen tlhe' filter up. ~I'ave a cup ()if: 't,ea.


'!Xfj rei

&8 '~9~,IDes ign a. b,91SS,patch. M,~ke t:lile fnH:1 uelil cy low. GIYe ~Ihe \1\0,1 me envi'lo pe a short attac k" a nd a 10l11g ,dIiC,81Y. U:S~ u I~tUe no sustet n. IAaisa t he 'fill ter c utnff po~iii t ~ Ildd serna or'Sl am d Ii nd a dlecay seU illI'g on the ~Ilr~:e elll \j!elo pie tthat r glves y©,u a n ~c,a !~UIe C!lJrp a~.t.h e beg'~ I1i in9 'o,f:'ro,ur 's'o'lI! nd, n B~ogl'~>

b!nel&a 20. D€lsi g fa a strl ng patch, F'lindl the right com bflnat 10n af Wai'!lefOl'll'iIi'MJ (f,or e)C,~ll1'Ilpl tri angll e fo n'" body sawtooth f(l..r e: edgle~m lil( to! t:astle). Ad d SOljiru~ Olhowu'~~ g. (i,irff€!; 'ttl e· 'Ij,1Q,I'um e n envelo pe a. longl s'llrll'11 I ikle att ack ~ndl re iea~e. IDe:sig n ,i!!; 'f i'llU!!i' ~ enveIO;~ S'O tlhat the harmo n ~c: enter brlefl'y dlu ri iFlQ 't ne beg ~n~ e s n 1 n g cd 1:he, n()te~ Wh,e n 'yo lei dIQ '~'hi,~~ to ,appro.xi rnate 't'ne try eo urlId t ha~: t he' 1'\0,9;1 nand bo IN I!T:!lak·e 'o'n the st r~t:l.g err a r'ea~ Y~nn. ,Add sam e ·!!i! to thel VCO!) wllUn a 1 second deK~y. I f Sinew fDllo,wl n'El th 1::3· flee:1p,e y'Ou~ve m anagled to come up w1tn a S,{)Un d ·t h,BJ~ ~5 so mewhen~ iln thle! v~cin ity (If a S'I Inl nQed in~ etru mentl tinen I ~I nce rely hop e yo U lire' p rspared for ,t he dli f,e COn5B~lJlence'~, ,c)f 'vo Ur :t;,eem InQ ~y ilf1lnolOent' a~~:~ ens. ¥'n!!J~~e Jus~ put SO h ard-wo,wJ( ill"ilgl G:I as s,i.cai m lii's~~ ~an ;O!!Jt of WO fi",k" S

we have oovlered the


toward, being abJe to ma~e wha l-evE!r sounds we want, If been dOirl(g On.eexercises, 'Y'OU .know the e::dent. to w.hki1 ail: ccmponen.'~sallow you. to defin~' the characteristics of

syn~h.@si2,'E'r. 'Whe,[le' does ·thal~ leave us;' W'elt, f:ifS'~of al], W,e'R' more :~han so percent o,f

slx main components


the volt~


sound. Niext Wl@ are G:oing I~O ~akI@,a.brief excursion Irmn tho~ m.a~n,componen ts and talk a liUle hit about (:0"1:['\01:; - d'[ose are' the' levers, pedals" and. j oy_·
u. ...........





stick ,thaJt allnw you Ito taUor your pe,r:formancer in T'ea1~tir such a way as. to add th at essential human element (or Vul element as. the case ma,y be) !,O the sounds you create, Fel

ing that, we will return 'to explore I::h@ plethora

(that mearu

there are a ~ot of 'them) 0 , extra . eatures that you are like] find on your ty-Pircal synthesizer, This. may seem a little Oil sequence ~ but I. don't Wiant te numb your brains with aU tl conceptual stuff fj rst, Perfommnce cant rols rtlJt@ haads-on ( foots-on) devices ,that are fun to 'U.SEr~ So '" ..


--~,.:. PE'R"FO'- 'R"M' "--::A" ' ·C''- "E'-": ... ,1~'· ./. ON·TDQi·····'LS····










wondering. w'hat ehose levers to the .left-hand si,de lof synthesizer keyboard are doing there, we]], rm go,iflg '~O you. They are perf orm an c-e controls .. We US-E! them to and ~tleTa sound as It is 'being played, A good analogy be a gu.~tar p~a:yer bending' a note d:urmz a solo. He the string \Vi th. toe pick in hws right hand and 'bends the with the ffng@T' of his, lleft hand. We can do approxlma \e~Y' thlng en .a S'yntheslzler;' WE' play a note with our dgh t and be.nd. OT the note with our' ]efl~ hand" The ~ • ~ d 0 f. -b ""'~'M.I..._:~I metal strmg we am IlL. d-_,= -• . Q@ ]S 1I1i&!.,ea ,:enY.Li:1l6 a lien ~ veo or a VCA or a VCF. He(@fswhit ]s going on, There are t:ypricalJy' two sep :rate perform.ante eonusually leeaeed It'D Owe~ef~ (,f the' k@yboard.. Sometimes be in the Iorm of MO wheels, and sometimes 'they' 11

lP'eriorm.anO:a< contmts
ObtHhrlim OB-B





wHI be in the f.orm of two levers, Usually one of tl1em wiD 'spring leaded; thae is, it 'wiU be connected to a spring mechanism that w~nreturn it to a neutral position after you move it even slightly in either direction, The other wiUbe moving and stay 'W here1l@r you, leave .j t. When we pull back or push forward 0[1\ a wheel or lever r we produ ee a changing 'voltage. This voltage ]5 then to, corsrol those good old basic components, sp&iHcaUy the VCO the V'CA'I and the 'VCF. Typically one w heel or lever is assigned to control frceqU@-TIlCY (pitch) of the veo., (This would be the spring.. loaded one.] This is caUed the pitch ,betrui wheel (or l'e'lL'€'r). It can bend s- note sharp' or flat by as much as an, octave On some mstruments the pitch bend range is fixed a I ,~ major er minor third, and on other LfiLstrnm:enls the :range can b~ variable, tha1t is. you can set it at a whol'l.e step or a. m~~orsecond 01" a ' Lf~h.!' etc. The other wheel (or ]ever) hi U5100 to control the amount ,of lFO that is S€'IlJt 1:0 modulate the 'VCA; thf' VCF ~ Of the V'C'O. This is, called the ,no.d' iohee! Of the :rn. tion leue'r. If you move the modu]aUon wheel forwafldJ in lh~

middle o.f a


·VC.AI d'1l~ veo~or the VeF. Just as different system's offer dilf~:r@Jlt pitch bend ranges, sysbems v,ary when ~'~' comes hJI



you wiU introduce tremale, or viblr,abl, er depending on w nether you are modulating the


VCA 0 modulation whee]~ ~ndudin:g: its own rate control. Most

Is nothing

whee] routings, Some on]y offer control of the the 'VCQI+ Some of'fer an independent LFO Jllllst fOil thf

s,ystems operate bY' increasing the amount of LFO ~h~j't is set by the mai n lFO, It m~ght help to realize that a modulation whHl
more I~hananother 'LFO iilDUJunt control, ex(ept, in= stead of being lccated on the panel ~n the LifO ~iOCUC\n l't ts located to' the. len of' the k:~y'board j n a 'shape tha.t is easy I~() main ipulate in a per .' 51 tuati.on.



Both of these ,co'ntro~8. the pi teh 'bend and Ithe modulafion wheel (lever). gJ,v'~ you the ,aba[~ 'h) tum the synthesizer into a real-nme per-f' instrument. Tha~ is, lhey give you the abUity tOI ,change the' character of iii. nett it is sound'ing,2Is opposed to havilll to program it in advance, Th~s nSI one of tn@ ,6ew places [n 'whIch it Is possible Ito add that indispensible human element to an Instrument that can otherwise run th@ risk of sounding lifeless. and mechanicaJ. The best thing' ,about performance controls is, that· they're fun to use. ~t l~aJk(e's just a little practice Ito g@t used. to, their th·row (how f.,ar you. have to move them) and Ith'en you, can SWOOP;t dive. and 'II gUJg.~~to your h' art s content, __ e
I~ J

The X,V JoySI~ck

Some syntheslzers use. a si'ng~eX Y' j D ysHck instead of ~wo wheels Of' levers. One axis of the j,oy5~jck wij] c,ontroi pitch bend and the other wU] control modulatloe, A .iioysl:ki< lean do viitual1y everything' that a pair of :1!e'VE:TS can. The! only difI'ertnce is that it ~s. compleh~~ypring loaded .. so it wo,uld not s be possible ~o in troduce a modula tion and then leave n ,5i~t ~ as you could with a 5p.r~ngless modulation whl?e1. If you are asking which oJ these perf.orman~ contro~s is bettler'f. what it r-eany comesdown to is a. matter of personal preference,. They ,3 U do t~@ Job .

............. r

type of' ~wo-in-one conteol along the' lines the X- Y j,oystkk ts the side-Uj-~de I'usi1 lev'e-r'. That is nOI~

ats flame bu'l It explains

how it operates ..You11 find t~m

on :mJ~n.y :Ro]and synthesizers, 1$ a ]e'\I'"lermechanism that moves side to s[d!e (as opposed ~o back '~O fn:rril;t) g]vln! you

pitch bend, U you push th@ entire ·met.h~I'IJ~s,m. forward, ylOU. 8ft tncdulatinn . Some synthesizers have an .lID t-r188"er' SUjirtd~, wruch " usuauy JE n rouno ...J imme diatel • .. 'd - 'd ,t.. is -"a.beJLYJ. ,a'iU1'acen~ 'h) a SI" e-to-sn ~ pilCH bend lever within easy thumb's reach, This enables y,QU. to introduce rnedulatlon w[~h a simple press, ,of t'h!eJ thumb" If 'the '~Y'!i~emalso has a deJJay coetrol f'or the' lFO t then YOrti have abiUty to clQ<Si~ly approxlmate the natural movement of a wheel, mt doesn't offer tTI@' de,gr~~ of suh tl,@~y, a wheel

would. but :i~ is Faster and simpler 'h) use and is in ma~ 'wars
ji-ust as leUell:Jtive.




uerel~8 21 • T1h,8Pitch Bend 'Wtiee Pfac~ ice' bendi ng. a note' up a w[hJo~ s~.e OnG8 y'ou C an do th lis 'W~~:h alii iso~at~ L1fiI'Oh~1 try II e p, on 0 n ete tlhat co rnes as~the 'and of a ~h n;~e-rnot:e· h rase. Tlry ,~lt, p ~\afelilt ilnte'rvaJs {I'f y'O I!J r ,s,y.Sih~ml allows ~t}.fry. to h It the p l,tGh
d e,i3)di Ollil.


1inue' as If11nUll abo,vi,

22. P racuce be'nd irig ~ note oC~own


wh oJls sts p. ICon-

note. In 'olthe Ii WiQ rd S P I,ay the not'8 ,~lI1dU'U3'n qu ickliy ~en d ~'t a '!Nlho Ie ~t~P (Of I'll ~I f step) up :arrl,dlh e n back 'to lits 0 ~ll nal p ne hi. Do title same ~ninO t gl~ ·~ga~ but h a.~~ 't he S.II til' ben d down ,il1r11 dl [baclk ·t his, tl IITI~'. 111,

E:Jl)8R.II-8 23" P'lractilce ad ~ing 8, ;,,~ Iur" te

EJ(ercflse, ,2 4. [Practil ce Iben d irig into ,6J note t:rolm belo·w. [11"1 ~h'elr D words, fllrst pull black on the p~'t,oh[bend whe8~ and! then lietulrn lt to. ce nr~:elF YOUI p IlaV t.1'1I e. note, Do tine same ttllill1191 a ln el(~ as ag esp1 ttl is U me be nd tnto tlhe f'lcOU~ from above., G at your Um ing !lugnt so t.h at. th e. b-endl is srn QQ.'tIh. One· cantu s IFII g aspee t eba U1; p itc h b·elliJcl tis t hat when you bend th,s pitch 01 a, sllng'le 110te, :!fOU also ch,ang!e the p[l~ch of t n Si antli fa k'ByboaiidL [In othll r wor,d SM j't 'YOu ana' .111~h e key of C, i8.ftd yO!J be'l1ld '~ne Ilas~ neta 0 f ,a! plh~ase 1IIp a who[1H step, then untl[1 yO!lJ1 lFeU.i'fn ·t he pUch bD.l!iI_ co,nttrol to li~sorrBgl n a I pas Itll on aJI ~'rn~notes hi! Ul!e k,ey of G will soun.d ln the key c,f: D. Wha,t ttl i s anealils i:s then' you II ~ h av-e 'to give somis thQug tnt to I'HJW you eX.e.CUlte plillras'Elis that tneerporate pUe:h bend, Af'er a. Whilr19 ~OL!l' U get 1h'Eit han 9 of It. c

lx,mlas, 25. The MroduhJtlon Whlal S1;art with a. patch 'tltH1i~. tonla! rrs no [lFO rncd u iet ira n. Sa·t yo lilr LFO so Unat the moe !l,I:lra.~ lien wheel ccntrets v~lblrato (LFO to 'VeO). Illf your sy.steim bSnl t ha~et a n 'I,Ui d.~rpend ant. l FO 'forr 1tTl ~ modu I'at ion wlleelll you wm na~e,to :set ~~U) LFO' as part of th,o p'8tch and nil:!," turn IINnlrn~.control to. zero. Now 'the. ImodiulaUof:l wheell will lnIIUIoIUlit:: what~vl!3'r LFO )l\Ollil sa to (Renu~mber~the Imodu II t IOn a
lSIJust ano1:hslr ,8 --Dunrl, cOlfltml.) Wigglle those' notea, Modulate' 8, whole chord, Glet NOW,II he1re,is ttll€! d gal: ThiS modul at Ion wtN:~eI w~[II co ntrol .,INU'jMFIlIii"· you as',s'fgn thel LFO [to.. In oth·er wordSI tlf you IrClU~re. LFO to tll[el VrC.A! ~h e mod wlil eel w ~ cant ro[1 tr,emo~ if yo u III o, the LFOr 'to t,1iI e VC[F. the m Gd wlnee II wi II eontro I f1111:e r ·10. ete, Got til at? S-O'~ fDO~ arc u nd w[i t h V[o,u r mod ri', and ~heclk (aU': Wh,Blt lit SOUlinJds U[k'e to. Irntraduce ,all~ ·m:ho198 tYIFHHi of mQdllJiat~Qn ~nh)B note Of' chord.



ElleflC~8.21. Cornblilldn,g th.e Two It, ~~kes. some plfac.t~ce'p. bUrt n~ft:ye't~fecti:s to bend a, no,le and U19f'i, In tlile mudcUe, 10lf the b end, ~!O apply sorn e mod y laUe n 1II eI,i n 9 Un e mod 'wh,ee,l. You


have to d'g both ,of UN'ese moves wi'th 'the Ueft hSJnd. U V'QU h,a,~~ 'iN nee lis" yo u can use you r pal m iBIlnd thumb or two Ung ars or wh,ateyer works for you. [If you h:ave a ,~o,ysUck,'or side-tn-sl,de ~ Etvaf w.'i th alii L.rfO trl g 9 8 r! U won't be BJ6, h,ard~ but !Ike I !3 a.l'd it takes practtes to Qlet It f'ilght ''tou want to be alile to Introduoe II b rlief; me d u latlon rllg ht a,ft'err the nate Ihas b",e n b en t. B !1M, ou y don't want to Ile'ave the Imodulla,t~ol1l !9l0~n.QI, or de YOJu want tfTre n n ete 'to ret u D'i~ to. Its, orig ~rnal pl-tchl. Th,e h Ijlfd part I,s pul ~~ngl lnl9 modi wheel back down agailn without moving tlh9 pUch bia'nd

w Ithr '~hem go ,ai'll e:a_,dand


wh eel 'fro m Its f1j,e.w posil non. Tlhes@ are all basic mcves.

Q,nes YOUI are'


altsJr thsm to' suit you r s'tyl e.

An unusual b~.t popular performance control r. used fo]!, pile}} bend, is the ri,bbon: c(,!lH'troller, It eonsists 0'-[ a thin 'm~laJ . covered in either fel t or plastie, that generates a vol tage '''-''',.<L''L''' that· chalFtg;Es, as, 'YOU draw your finger across, its ]engtll,. 5om@ people Hnd it a IHtie awkw,ard as compared to a ~ever but it still has i'~sadherents, It is otten found 011 hand-held remote keyboard control1l!fS (like the Yamaha KXS) because the at which YOiU need to' held th@m dose'~y approximates the I ha nd pii~c.hbendh,g grip of an electric gu ltar .

lIe,r, IUI~1 ' Th a,' Ilf'e',' al,J.... 'C',",'0",-n'I' 'ro' __,_,

I _

A b1"'ea;fk co n troller is basicaUy a pressure-sensing device that held in your mouth be tWI~~n clenched t~th. and responds to

how hard you blow into '~It'. It then transforms that p~ssnre· formation into II control vlo]tag;e' that can 'be used '~O oonltrol v'o~ta,gE-co:ntrolled parameter. 'mts unique features aJle (1) that you can p,l_y Dlt without usmg ynur hands or ree~ and (2) that enables you te more! closely approximate the actual phra5mng wind Instruments like the clarinet, the trumpet, and the saxophone, BOC.iMJSe.' it can send out a. 'voltag;e contrel that d.uplilc,aJlh;$ [~'he tour ,of your blowing, it lends authenticity con a sound whim contro.Uing, parameters such as the' attack of the volume envelope or the ,frequency cu~off pom't of the filter ..





IR~BIDN AN iii llil EA1M

RII!! Illl:N
1[;'0 MiTiRU,UEA

FaGlped,ai_,s,and iFDot,5wltches
ThereaIfe' [two kinds of perforn B,iUU']!!' controls tihal us to play wi th our Itwo fee L


One, the Iootpedal ,gel1eraltes a changing control i'u:s,t as do t~e lever, the !r-]bboD, and the whee] ~ Th,@ kin ,. th~ footswitch ~ is, simp] y an on/off switch th t can


en or off wh~'~~'Vl!rinfliction it is assigned


Any parameter that can be controlled by a, [changing IDIta.j~ can he cO!1ltr-oUOCl by a foot pedal. Thee includes volume the VCA) ~ pitch bend (the VelD), and modula non

SimHarly, any ,param~'her that can be [conltro[]edl by onloff switch is a candi da:~e f~r being controlled by a dt


Most synthe"sizers generally have ,anywhere Irom two dtfferen't inputs for. foe tpedal s a:~d.lor foo ~swi~cbes"The.

co:ntroll~d by these inputs ar@ usually "fixed; some ,of the 'more E'X pen si ve syn~h'~,liiz'er~ ermit you p
parameter of your hJOitpeca] or foots.wUch t, -

The most common Bxed as-sLgnme'niit for €JJ fnotpedal is olume control. his is useful Ier Fading in and out string and thf! like, The footpedal is also oiben used .for addl,rnng " effects. This is done' exactly the way a modulauon used tcroutrcl Hu~amou nt of l-FO modula tins the It can also be used 'to. control the if tier cut-off point as the rat!e (sp'eed) of the LFO. S OOOE synthesizers ]i!!'t you
to 5 tel' through consecu ~iv~patches ,j n a preaewin. Thfs i5 a. fea ture [that enables you tOI go fr'om

song, to song 'without having ,to search for the right pat,eh. Many s.ynthesizers provide an ~npu t for ;;I sustain pedal, StJls,tain pedals work diUereliLt]y from system to but' essenually they '~ry to approximate the eH@ct of a pedal on .I'fII acoustic piano. A sustatn pedal on a synthes mere of a switch than a pedal. H sends. ins tructions Ito the volume envelope to either extend tn.@ sustain portion of the
;3"';21 __

'enve]o~ or to ex tend the re]ease portion ,of the envelope. Most synthesizers off.@r some kind 'of' inpu't lor a. footswitch or footpedal, but 'the actus] device' It~]t (llie' f.,ootswnch or pedal) is generally sold separ,all@ly. The result that many b@ginfiing synthesis ts buy th@ synthesizer without pedal and therefore miss out on a v@'ryimportant aspect of
synth~iz@r_"s performance


Buy the foo,tswnch

and I or Feotpedal,

EJiEU'cl:&1Ii 27, F,ooilped g~8 Exper~n,ent 'wij t to U-N~~ 'footpEid al as a

'1'OliIJ e co ntrol. C all up a stlri ng patch and praetl ee t',ad~ m nQ' notes in and out- Thls Is harder 'than ut, sounds. ¥-ou have tQ used to pl1aying 'ttHa note, befol'le you actualll,! hear' tt, Use t:he fo.otpedal as a ffi,odlu I atl on con trol. Remembel!' there is ,~b6.011IUh~lly1110 dliUell'8nlCe be~wean, he t footpedall c,ontrFOmng medulatton and the. rncdulatlcn wheel dOling it~same IPIF~l'1Iclplle,dln'srrent ,~ppendag,e"

A toueh-senstnve keyboard .So one tj"aJt has 'the to measure certain. diff@r-efi'~ in the w,ay Y()iU p]ay the can tell whethe~f' you strike a key'~or slow'. And it can spend to how hard you press down on t.h.l~ key after you plaY'Bd a note. Some lean also S@Iil.S@ side-tlo-side movement
key - the so:r~'of. motion

There is one 'more' very impc.utanl~ performance conltTo] m,ay 1Il0 t, at first seem as if ~t falls within the calegcry levers, w'heehll" and pedals, 'it is the teueh-sensitive .

one would use c,n a stringed ' men t tOI achieve vlbra to, The sensing devices ln al [touchsensitive keyboard then translate the e measurements into vcltages or di,gital instructions (binary code) that in turn trol the' same so:r~ of. parameters that a]] other pCiri>jrli'r'n"~""''01 control devices control -naHu~[y", the veo (p·'teh}, the r{volUffl@)1 'tn@ VICF (timbre)J and the LPO (vibrato).

There are hasi!~,~Uy kinds, of touch sensitivity two

They are' ve]odty sensi ~ivity and pressure sensitivi ~.



Veraclt" Sensit'iv~'ty Velocity

measures the speed with which you strike a k€y. The Ie-nett wil [ cha nge according to w hich parameter is beiITIg cnntroUed. For example, when this unction is assigned to control the VICA~ the faster you play. the louder tt}iU~ note, It is important to understand thae 'V@]oci~y sensiti,vity

measures ve~oc.ity not foroe or strength. There is a rela tionship between velocity and force. W'e naturally 'play harder whtm we try to accent a note on an acoustic piano for insta.nce'. Butt, on a synth'£!sizer, what is actually being measured is speed. not

Like a piarnc a veleci ty-"j~ens,i ve k~lboard on a synti thesizer can control changes in volume. As I've alr-ea.rly said, il~ does,~rusby sen,ding a message to ItheVCA,,,, It can also control various other parameters, If the same ve]od'ty information ls ten~ to U'U~ttack portion of the volume envelope, you can a ca-nUto]the very beginnins of a no bi s eavelope - whether .it has a shoft a.~tack OT a ]ong attack - simp]y by changing the speed wit~. which YOILl depr'esi the key. ]I you dedd~ 'you want t.he velocity,S€nsi,thl]'ty to affect t~mbre.. what you do is assign it. 0 the n~ cutoff poin t, in the ter Then, the faster you strike a e. the brighter it will be,



f;1'l TiEAt

se:1'\'VitYI lso called after,to'Uth~ measures how far a you, press a key after ilt has b n struck. This can be

in ~m.IParting somekind of modulation into 'the middle of



If'rI!!! S:3U r~' ,s;a;r'-5IfC IvU,y' (Aflierigl,ll¢I1I~, Siil~U>rf.r.nli!Ji~' ~phe1 T8

a note (v [bra to ,o:r tfie.molo) or as wa:y to create it 'volume' I.I'sweU ,Al5 with. aU these performance controls, dt~, ~pedfic ~ feet on. the note is, determined by the routi ns. If. P]'1HSUrE' senswHvit"y' is assigned b) the 'V'CAi it wi]1,~on'tTO] volume. U it assigned I~O ~he LIfO~ }"OU get vib.ratO' or hem 010 ~ aM so on.

R,elleasa Velocl'ty
One I(ltner ;~.y-p~(]iif v@locity :sensiUvHy which ~ists tOI date (l,:rt th~' :[Proph@~ T,B~,is, called release veloclty. Re',l!~e uel,oclty similar to normal velocity :s;ens:itiv] t~rexcept I~hat mstead of measuring the speed 'wilh. which you, stdk.@ a ,key it. measures the speed wilth 'which Y'QU nd@'.f1J!i-€' key, This can be useful in a conlro]Ung the :relea~e' portion of a volume en velope, For 10= stance, when playing a :5,t.r,ingl[~e part, you can determine ~he length of the ]lO'~I@~'S r@lea~by either IllfUnI 'youx fi1la;ers off th!

keys quick1,. or slowly.

,S:ide~'to"Slde SSfllS Itlwlfl,!/

There is one mere kind oif touch sentdtivUy', I~,doesn't ! a name burt ii~ a feature invo]ving a sensor tha,t f'@:$ponds eo ,11 is

side-to-side or rocking motion. of a ,finger on a key. It is sju.Uar to. pressure sensit i:vUy r but ~t 'mea:s,u:res mo~ent left to right as, opposed to up and down. It. ]5, normally used to eentrol the 'VCA (voh.une) 0]' I~heV'(JO (pHch) in. order '~10give ]l'DU the l~jJb]H~y~o create '~h~sam~ kinds, of vibrate and tremolo one g!ts on a. stringed instrument such as a ,guitar or viol in

rou c!h s ~ns 1i'I",e 'keybo 8rds ~re! just, dii 'f1:arrent ki ncl:i$, of p 9lrtorrm anee CQnU,otS. Til ey IriI'iQ u IiI"e dl~ Ueranrt techni ~ LlIas 't han wihlfU:=I:s and pedlaJs, bun ag,i:l~ t hey all do IOtaJs,ja IIIy fhl@ same th ings. n~ c Th I,s brl n'gs lme' tic an Im pc ~tant p;o1,lilt.'lhe· prlecledh'il I) Jl'8Irf, rm flll'1lC e Iconr~ro ~ sxerel ses were e').; !mlples of t:1ii e mcst eern mon; a and baetc 11'iI'10VeS,i, D,u'l! dOrtt h)rgert, 1~Ii1yt:hing"~,p·C!'~5Ibh;,'" Re'ffiEH'lilber t:hat 21most every p arforman cs control h,EIISI rs ,~qul 'if.. alen t en t:h e m a,linpana i'l Ii. e. t ~u:~ iitch be nd wh eel ~ ]1 p 5 !Jst: a h,arndy 'Ire q ulency' ~ont'ro I the' me d u iat,11 n w h~e i i5 ~ sot anoth,er' o lJ LF'O .am01.1 ni centre i'I' an dI so h) rth.




Thel pel rrt I wan~ 1:0 make is thi s: Unde'r t ~U!~ hi t e Itf''Ir:tg GY1!'if!,st ~ililnlc!as! iill most ,Bv1ery l'eg'iJ.i i ar centrol knob Q~ fad I8IF an the' malil'il !panel you r s~nrt hies ~Z~r has Ii'lle peten ~iaJI to be used as ,e. perfotrrn a nee con~,roI. In othe r word Si J!.I! 5t becau S~ It is, n CIt lalb~led pElrlgrm,lili1liCe OOniljro~ doesn't mean va U CleiO't Lilse It as ene, U~iQ you r irrnellg~n at ~Ofll. [PIay ,a ch Qrd and I lsten 1:0 W¥I,a1:


happens to the tlrnbre as you ,ch,ang'a d:rnerent ~'6line'l eomrole n ke the' fllte r IcUtOI1, lI'etHlfU)IiiiGe~, ILIF'O s P;8EUI\l; etc. Th e syn~ thesimf was. dle,s,i'griled! to IPn)d1II ee am az.lill19 and iJJ nus !lJai sounds and ~f'you ea n get: a glrs,e-t' ene'c, Iby Ip'llayl n g It 1IIplsl de down, 0).11' wit h yo~ r 'veet! or w h ~Ie' slPilnn ~I'iI g co Il1trrol k nebs 'W~th y,oLIIr tong iJJ8 t hen do U. Just dion It tell anY'Dody I said it was O. K.

All of these perfor,maru1@ controls .slm,p]y offer

diH!umt. w,~ys of be;ing ,~_b]@, o impart a ltttle life in~o your t syn~h.ts.izerplaying,



IOmmseo· hav[ng aJre·.ady covered th!f diffe:n~nt Itypes of percontrols in the preceding; chap~er I lNiU now talk to , some cif the various sp@dal f@altuf1e's.y(~1JI. are ]ikely. into on y,our typk:a1 Orr 1e\1@JTt not :5.0 typical synthesizer, But HrsJt~ it is t~me I @xp]aifu~da few things. Before 'we ~1I ailout all of those neat extra feaJhlf,es.. I need to exstii'P p,rogmrl~ming is, And before I rcan do that~ I def"methe diference' between ana] og and dlgltaJ. Beif I could av,oid all this I w(ni~d, rbut ~hefi you.'d be confused and prQb~b['Y ask For yourmoney 'back.



i l\e CmfDIi"'EmOe bEltWeElti an IiIIIQg aT! d elilgltaJ

IYI1'I hes,Iz,e!'S 1.6 9i iSOUl1l'OeI Qlr [grei;iJt eOfllfU6iorti for most tleg'! 1'I~~111 g syn,thasliSls..

Bver since the word digita1 became a consumer b1JllX\Nord,it has been ,~,constant source of confusion to people, ~iI!t dQ6 i!t lac~uany mean 1 Unfortunaj'~e]y it means 50m~!l'thing different tOI everybody, I. wiU do my bes.t ~'o. give you, an ,a]]~arolDld d,eHn]'~ionand, then a deUnltioll, as it applies I~OsY:n'~hesis. ,Digim l f1ef,e:rsto numbers. specifically the nlllRbm computer binary code, '[Ev@I'y computer and microprocessor uses, this binary code. \1\' hich is made up' of the nUlmbm 0 1. Strings of these ]s and Os represent the language of compu'lers.. and it is th~ elegant simplicity of be MIg: a hIE to ' all kiflds. of lnformaticn in to numerical f-onn. that makes puters so powerful, Digi tal clocks, digi lal caleul ators, digital s ~mos operate using the b[nary code .. They each contain ,a, digjtlll , cuit [or m itrD proces~D r tha t serves to ooo,rdin alre and their multiple tasks. These digital circuits and are' "in Fact miniature computers and it i' thei:r incj'redibIe as w@n as tlheiwabHity to store enormous amoun ~sof tion and h). execute complex instrueti ans. that is changing wo~ld around us SOl dramatically. ,A[ctuaUy U's p:ret~ stuff'. In anY' case when you see the word digUa all it tha t there' 5 a comp uter in there. The word analog is not as easy to define. It similRr in some WIlYI but it also implies fha~ while 5UIJrJCQ similar it is not exact]y "the same. Let me IBdrcrre mere were d]git,,~ circuits, I~here \\ferE! elrcuits, These circults W~n:!' made up of electrorUc capacitors and resistors. In the] r day they were COnS1(letI preUy 5ta~f-;of~the~a.rtl bu,t by ~oday~sdig~taJ standards

tuaUy' S!€emslow and. dumsy. I'm exaggerating the of course, but it helps[ to LUustrate the disrinctlcns digital and analog, Bo"th types of circuitry 'Use digUaJ ~edmo[ogy employs it in a subtle and el!,gaIlt strings of perfec ~ numbers while analog technology almost primitive fash.ion, by fordng raw current
lobstade course transistors. So, a digiita.i device IIJS.esnumbers, and an devi~' operates by the, direct application o current.

rnlilOl .."I-r'iI'''''

In :rea]ity, rumost all electrordc devices today bHiation ot t.hesr two ~edhno[ogies Therein lies the
For G'UT purposes 'we can ,deHne an a's one that genera tes i'~ssound 5.01J..['ce'Us; ng analos technology - oscHI a tots. By th[e same deli ni tion, a thesizer wou]d be one "that generates its sound ~"U1'_ digital technology - dig~taJ] tone generators.




75 to those definitiOftSf, [every vobagec.;controlJed' synt}H~sizer is an analog device bec.ause it generates its sound

sot1lt(;eusing analog ~ed!moiogy'. This is true even though every one o[f today's vOltag[e<on~roned synthesizers employs a. ref am amount of digital ~ecl-tftolbgy for : ,Jmos:~every upf'J',a,tion.
The only true digital] synthesi~ers are in 5tru merits like the Yamaha DX7 and the Casio CZIOrl and a few superexpensive systems, such as the Synclavi,elr and the Fairllgh] - all of which generat,e th@l:r so/undo source s.ome t}r-pe IO{ digital ton ge'nera'tor as opposed to a. regular oscilla tor. This is true even though you don't actually hear that d]gjt,a]~,y generated

Silund source until it is converted into audible form through

the use of a digH',~1 to analog converter. C O'~ 7 I"U say it again. All analog instruments emplo'y some dlgHaJ cemponents, and all digital Instruments employ some analog components . .ow that hopefully l'v@ cleaeed up ~h]s confusing issue'l Lel me' reiterate an important point that I m.aJde ea rlier 01'1. That m:s. that even though we. are continuing to discuss aspects [of the analog s:ynthes:jz@J', almost every one [of features 'exists or h.tJJ5 some equivalenlt in a di'gita~ syn. So, even if you. ne-ver intend ~o own an analog syn-

you sl~illneed to Jearn an thi s stuff because al though are some important differen.ces between analog and synth~sizers .ill great many iOf th@!, 'bask sound-creating

are [ xactly the same.

Now 1et me tell you about step programming.

Step, IPro'gr,amming
age ill] synthesiJzers 'were' covered with levers, , Lets of 'em Each of the5~ i5vt.dtehes, levers, and controlled some parameter on thE': synth.esizer - whether to set thf!' frequency of one of the osciUa'tofs or [to raise the vehrrne, A]ong [came di~jt,a1 teC'nnology. On of the important featuf'es 0'£ digib~.ll technology is

t'h,a.t i~ enables you, to, perform a great nu m her of opertl: a, V1@ry' small amoun t of space. ManufaC'~ urers Wf!r€' :a'ble to

replace all those h~'V'eJ"S, and knobs. wi'~h a sing] e all-purpose numeric kieypa,d.. By assigning ;a, number to each parameter (VeO tuning', filter 'rutoff point ENVs, e tc, )! can simply punch 1JJ:P (accees the code number o.f) w hatever parameter you want to edit and then, using I(h.~5~me keyp oa:rd, pun.c~ ])1 the appropriate values from a seale of er 1-100 or 1 0 (on / o.n), This system makes it: possible to reduce the number of switches, knobs" and. levers to as few three or four and 'st]ll be abli~ to pregram each and 'every parameter on a syTIJ~hesizer. Anyone that has ever programmed ,a. d.i,gihtl alarm docilk or watch [s f,a_,_miUa:r wi.~h this process. In. synthesis 'i~ . called ste7J'programming because it requires you to edi t parameter one a.~· . time, (step by step), a Like most technologieal advances, step progr ammi has ad V"an~agesand disad van~ages", 'The manufacturers love beeause 'll~enables them to dispense' wUh a ]ot of those ....... ....,-= s~v'e ]e'vers and knobs, ],~1.]50 means that th'fY can ,e.r.i!Lrrt ,and more ,exciting; fea~1jJ,r,esn~o less and less space (-~nd ] wei~ht),. This b:dllt,g~ dH~cost. down and that's good fer the :~U'rn'u~rhuj'~th@'J."@':g ][LIe' problem, O Ste,p programming is a pain the ass, y,@:s~ I used a three-let ter 'word. in. this otherwise s@irilious and. somber text (hajha) and for a very good True, step prograsnrning makes the instrument " and it. takes 'Up ~e$sspac-e 'but hiflJ.ving: '~O pfiogram each parameter one at a time is an extremely rlme-eonsuming compared with ]~'VleI'Sand. knobs which are much. f,8Jsh!rmid E\~:1LSj.El' to 1I..tSe., Also with levers and knobs you. ean] urnp very 'qukkJy 'back and foreh between two difre~ntPlar,am~~er5 to 'how one MfBCt:S the other _ .a crl!Jcla~ part o£ sound. 'lnod~, 'With s~pr-o,gramm~in~: ,this takes,~r., Even more b~lportant than ,~~. question .of speed is problem of knowing, whe'f@ you. are. With levers and knobs, once yo Ill. hav1e started ,@diting and have acHv'a,lted ,~JIyour. tm']s'j you can tell aJt a glance ex~,'ctly 'W ha t's going on ~ :how 'much resonance there is. whkh 'wa' is bemg used. ' so on .. 'With. 'step :~).r«DgTammifrLgthis ]S not the case, ]n order , nnd out the set Hng~, fo,r a pa:li'~iru]ar pab:h. .. you need tto 80"'...... _ each pwamei~~:rone ,at. a time ('st.ep by step) before you -Carl a c.,omph~ih~· pictun of how It'hat sound 'was lP'rog:ra:mm.~d. really 'C!)fif'iIlsing and makes it e?Ctr~nu~ly'difficult For even an experienced programmer to ~ep Itr.cJJck of wher~ he or she is while editi rig (programming) a. S4Jund.
ii!'I;,', "", ....... ,....



m"m.not '~rying,I~O scare you; ~~m just trying to m~ke impcrtant point, If you are' [ust buying you~ firs,t synthesi

MEAl 1~,XrAA



try to ,get s.o'm,efh~ng like ~he Roland ][0,6 or' anything tha t has good old ]@ver and k.n.obs. It will make [earning a hell of a ~ot • hO . - _ 'f.' • easer, 11m also __ prLng: th alit i. enougnI!... P&OPU~ comp lai auout ,It am b thf! manufacturers m1~, espond hy' providing us wi~h an inr compromise. 0 . IC!OlLUrse mic:roprocesso]'s, are good for us, but there needs, to be some kind of balance. Synthesizers weremeant to be ,twiddJed and tw@ak,ed. Now thaJ'~that's out of the wa .. ... on to tJUi! features. y

. remember that w@ started the' efiitire section an the a,g.e-oontro~]ed s:yn'thesize:r by discussiIlLg the sb.: main COTI\oJ a s'Y"thes zer - the os.cimla 101' (VeO), the amplifier th fwher (VCF}; the two @iDvelope geni~r,at'Q:rs (the Hh r and the volume, ENV) ~ and the [FO, Almo~t ,~very one of foUowing feat:u.res, invol Vies the me d1JJ.~aUon~'!he manlpulaor some kind of control over one or more o.t' 'thc,~ :sam~' rernponents .. In other words .. all W'e are dolng is finding ela.bcr~J~eand in trica~e w·ay.s of fiddlling around wHh the old veo the -V,Cf ~ VCA~, and the ENVs", etc, Got in


teab...tfl! is p~t!~y se1lfexp]ana,tory,

It allews you to

the entire keyboard" usua]]y a :range of P~1IlS one octave. Some synthesizers .of er Hxed r,illlae. set-, thai is, you can choose b,e'tv(een only' a few predetermined

usually octaves or 'whole


In fac~,




inclu r @ a separate o· tave s,witch tn addition, to 3J swnch. T.he' octave swwtch is j I1Jst a quick w,a,y of up er down an octave ~fi order to' ehange :r~gisbers. tynthesizers ba.vl:!i transpose funcHo.ns that are ''l,il' ariable, they allow you 'to di@'[jenrd~l,'e transpesition by the interyout daCfiS,mg. The m,o~~common way of p.rogrammin;g ·i.nltuv'a~of your choke is by hi~ ti.fig the switch and lthen Ilrestd~g any' key above fh~ 1owesl~ C byboard. Whatever the' int~a.~ between the note you the low C \\rtll be l~he transposition intenat




A specia ~ ized lr anspose switch, th·~ c etave switch, also known as the range s.wi rch r lets you. change lhe regi ster of your keyboard up nr down an octave with the press of a button (or the tum of a knob). The settings on the' odta've swi tch oHerti have standard organ stop markings-16~', B~. 41~ etc, ~whkh correspond to the actual pipe lengths ~he orlginal pipe' organs, Every time you doubled du" length of Ith,~pipe, you. lowered the' pitch one octave, Sometimes the octave are [;'mplv marked up and down,


This is another l.u_nhlg con l rol tha t enables you to change tilt overall tuning e,f a two-oscillator sys tem, I t is a. global hmiIJg control that overrides ~he individual frequency (tuning) knobs en each oscillator, Master t"un£nt is used to hJ ne your lnstrument to concert pitch or to other lnstrumen ts.

This 15 ,3 .swHch tha~ SOID@ SY'5t@'nlLS, gr.a'tefu]ly r include as oFle ,of their neat extra ~ealur€S~Analog synthesizers, especially
older ones, are notorious for driffng gradually out of tune, The auto- tune function automa Hcally recalibrates aU ~he oseilla tors, putt ing the instrument back in to tune 'with itself.

This is an easy- one .W,~ already talked abeu tithe fact that synthesizers have two osci]Jato,fS (VCOS} per V"oke and. 'that w hen you tune them slight[y apar~ the' I"E'suJt is a thickening f attening of the sound. Some :syntl'rtesizeJ's, ha V~' a feature that does exactly this at the flick of a s.wfuh:::h. Chorusr also, known as. ensemble~ is an extremely usefuJ @.f~~ct nd can ,ohEn tum a fla t, !boring sound ln to a. beautiful and usable sound. One t'O be careful of is '~h]s: b@caus~ chorusing lnvelves the ......... , o..r..Jof oscfllaeors it v@ry often will mean a halv Ing in 'the 'numbft o·F availa.b]t\il, voices. For instance, if an eight-volce synthesi.ter





gives you OnE oscillator per voice and. you hi~ ~he chor us switch, yUH are likely tlo wind up w['~h only' four usable voices, This is b@CBUSt! four of 'the original eight voices are being used hJI d au b]e the other four. Some systems ha vie two chorus S~ ~t lngs, This sjmply means that one setting has 'the oscillators tuned far~hre!r apart than the other.

the coolest effects on is synthesb:e:r. lt is. a function that Causes the pltch of a note being pla yedl ~Q slide up or down f rom the pitch of the preceding no~_p[aYil2d. 'This is the e'ffec ~ th~'~ is :responsib]~ for those char ctertstic sliding synthesizer solos ol [he sixties and sevent~~ (Yes, I know ~ ~hat's a lot 'of SiS) tha't 'marked the beginning

Portamento also known as glide is one

of the synt'hesi.zer era.

II at this point' you understand all the things I've been about voltage control, then you should have no probfigt-1Jtin,g IOU t how this 1~fF.'ect occurs. Remember how dtf eard sends. a message to ~he o.sdHart.,or ~elUng it 'wiha~'pitch produoe1 When the portamerao function is engaged, t ,_e thi ng oceu rs, only witn a sHght delay", In other words, osrillatee, instead ,of changing ins"tant]y troom C to IG~takes time ,md 'moves gradually ,i, pitch from the J ast no ~e prayed to the n~w note (G)., This relatively gr,adual change in pitch a'S a swooping pitch. ]l1'm,p and t hat ,is po rtamento, Most sy nthesizees off@f' a portamento ra~e eentrel. contool le ts you set th(! .spEf!d at which the ertamerne will occur. m t can rake any-w,he'fie from a fraction ot a secto a full 10 seconds or more, Some 5Ysl1~ms aH.ow you to determine the slope of to, fhat is, whether 'the speed is constant 0]' no t of portamento remains the same during. the glide, the referred te as linear. H the rate of p or ~amento increases its ta'rget pltch, then it is CaJ led. @xponentiaL




\Nften syn ~hesiL@·rswere monophon

could only' p]ay one note on them a t a pRdk-~ frorn which. direction th[t pitch 9Ude would (lome- it
would al ways tClOID,e frcrn the' preceding note, Even Ion 'n",:IoU polyphornc tnstrumen ts, 3:S long ,;3JS you play a monophonlc ('Only one note a,t a Hni@, as opposed to chords) the: same ciple holds true", h is only when YO'\] start ,chords or more' than one note' a ~ a time. with portamento on, d'Lat . star t to ,g~t a Uttle confusing. The reason foor ~hi5is ,that. eval '~hough each voice ~oscillator or pair of oscillators) 'Siides up down from its ~H·\ pHch,. the f,ii1Jct that you are dealing wj t.h. several voices t raveling in independent paths makes it almost impesstble to predict It.he. directions -,rom \'1'.h1ch ,the slides (portamento) wlll OCCllt._·O't that i!t can't· be ,done. [t's just that it may require some though.t and exper:imernalion to able t 0 replicate a particular chordal eff.e'ctusing port'amento,

LeI'tiU9Jlt is, you time'~ it w,as easy to

Exarels18 21. /P'[ortamemt,o Fmrst nndl a patch wUh a ~or at sus'Ullin. Experllmen1 WIUl dllnen~Mi~speeds of pcrtarnento, Rewne-mber, you al 8.ied only a 'very small a1l'TIJDunt of ~o hear the ~1'ftct (Wornl ngl: Th e po'rt,amelil~.,~) n SOlme' syste·ms, works on Ily Whefl o V',ou play legl~Uol' thiat ISm When Y[CltI,,1 lay wl,t,h no separation bep tween the not'Bs,,) See' wha~ happ.ens wilen yOy ~lla'y c;;hmds with nortamentc. As. long ,~s [evelfyone moves, ill th'!9 same direc· t.ilon~tt's GOO~; but approach tlhe' cho'rd trorn d~nenEIIIUdireGUons ,and •.• watch out

GHs~ando is almost 'the same as pertameneo e.l{'oopt that of producing a smooth [conUnuoius, slide from one note to the next what results is if slide that is 'broken up into semitene steps,

This funcUolD enables you to ply . note or chord and then sustain it for as long as you like. 'By p.ressing the' hold switch once before you play the ~ey;(s.} you cause Ithe note(s) to sust t ain for as ]ong as th.e :h.oL:t s,wi tch is. on, 'This is uSEful for . ·_ d ··t c. creating ,drones or ]ow $,ustauled parts, al"t~- rrees 'your ' L to p~arymoving parts. over wha.rt"er is b@ing, held, It also enables you to duck au t dIe back for a G.uick sandwich tin,[eset wi.t'hou~ anyone ~eaH.z]ng youl',["@ gone, (0" course this would only be possjbh~' i' you were p,1aying a tune' with v'e-ry f~w' key changes.)





'Chord Memory
Chord also called chord' la.1c11 is an interesting runeHon that allows you to play chords with OJi1@ ,finger" It does this, by memorizing the intervals between th!~notes of whatever chord was held of captured by the hold function (s@eabove). Then, using the pitch of whatever single key is, pressed as ~h[e root, it re-creates the i.n~ervaJ8of the he~d chord, 50_, for exampIe_ if you ho[d a chord consisttng of the notes C.. E. G and engaged the chord memo.ry Iunctlen could th@"Il press the note P wi th one Bng[er ,and the chord F.. AI' C would 5-0.un d, This is another finger- and hand-saving Iunctien that fI.'ot,only glV' S you lh e ab']"" t 0 P I ay romp ."' l ]LY icate-dI an d' IJl.. d-to-reacnilL _[nar . -. chord progressions lNith it single diai~but also makes it possible to pick your nose and plaY' through cltang@i5 at the same Hm.E:. Tech nology is ,2jj wonderful,


Ilem '&8

111m f,ea'ilJres like ho'ld or 'chOl'1d memoryj I don'~t W'arn~ 0" youl 1'0 '.hlnk that th,ey 2JJr8 usels'iS,s ... theyre n,o.t" HowevEH', th,ey do. serve a p urpo S.e 0 !filly under very spe<ci file 01 lieU m st anc,es. 'WI']aS !} circum staaees may b,e rare, wh Ichi s why I !poke fu n at them. What 1"mt,ryi f'!I 9 to say s thli s: don't WBJt for th.e 0 IlrC'1lI nstances t. r c real,S' th'em, You. may' not [0 f1e n eneo u nter 8 ptece crf mW8[i,c (l1a1re.qu fires you to ~ I,all( a rap. ~d, c,h roma-t ieall "I [a'sc.:ondii fiI G 'Seriosof rn ajor S6IVe. nth eh erd e, but So w h,at? It" S 5 uoh a lle8~ sowUld ,and lh 8 fact th at it woul dI be im pCU3 81ble to re,el~im 1111 IIJ1Y othe r way m alke.'s I t part C 1,111 unl (J U e, S<h use it Ie ~"'illl a Elrly d, Itmgl around 'It. Use' It as U~e b'~s~$ fo,r ,S! ~I,ff. ln other words. UI you come acress s, SOUilI d or 'feat:urs on yo IlJlr' sY!il1:h esll\er th at sHl'kes you IS oddl or unusual, dOIl1I~, pass It Iby th,~nkln,Q It's, rftttJ,t TakJe adval1UlglB ,of it. Make' it practlcal, Wh~ knomula,? You-rei 1iabl e to' come U Pi 'IN it hi so met t'fi nQ ra'a III~ Iln~:EHecstilng.

ai, l1he

IChllJ,rd Memo,ry SwUeh IEve 11 t he ugh I make

lhen agaJI1! . , _

is a functi.on that Roland made popular and that you wiU en more and more synthesizers today ~ ,h is usually located th!' ~nve]ope ~mO\ll_nt COI1'tn)].. If you t-«ITfi€mb@f, an gerutratJo'f gives a shape to the volume of a fl()~t'@ as

its tlm.breJ' and in 50m~ instances, {w'hen it· controls. the it affects its pitch, A polari t}j swiltch. inverts the shaJp . 0-£ poe. It ]iteraUy turns. it upside down. The result is. that tnrve']op~ corttrols have almost the opposite ef.f.~C'~ .. For example, ~akie[a typical H1ter envelope that is to gr aduallily ]ntruc:hu::Je ~hl!- upper harm,onics into a il unfolds and then just as graduaUy reduce ~hose'Up,pef




harm onics u nU[ they completely disappear during the note's release, 'H 'you 'wert' to invert that H[h:~renvelope ...this is what wou ld happen: First ~ ill:ls~ead.of~hE!hannonics entering gradually, t hey would b e there from ,the v@ry b~g]nll:ljng, of the' note. Then, instead of gradually increasing, they would gradually decrease ~until they disappeared, However wha ~ would happen during the release' portion of the n ote's envelope is that they would suddenly reappear and begtn to increase, at the same time tha ~ the volume envelope was reaching the end of Us, cyd~ This is an unusual ie-ff'ect-having; harmentcs re-enter as a note is, endtng _. and would not be' possfb]e using a ,regul:rf envelope, [Only- by inverting U can you tak@ advant-age e,f these peculiar upside-down propernes. Th@ same is true of the volume envelope and the pitch envelope. Being able to inve:r~ any of these envelopes gives 'YOU that many mere options for designing particular sound. ~rsIike Alice in: WDnde'rlJiilnd. W"it:h the polarity s\.'V]tch everything is topsy-turvy,

iExelll'clse :30. ~Jilv:.r1ed Enrvelopas If SJ'[ter all this time you hs\'e fin,a~~yachteved some lHllderrstandingl of how the dlne,rent ~OIF~ t ion s of an e nve 10~e Ire Iat.e], th is. s no u ~d's. e File to ho'pElless~y confuse you alill Qv,ar again. No, I'm Just k.dcUng. It's nOlI tlha'i hard to get. But it wUl requlra 'that yo.u 're~orl(ent,yoursi9I'f. (No, t:h at do es n' t mean you h,~v[e to [go to J aoan -[ail t no ug h tlh at ~ S where most ~ynthe,8izerrs 9jrre made' today,) A good idea iis act U,9J~ '1 to diraW' a p~eture 0 f [a In0 rI mal envelope 0111 a piece of paper (or an envelope) and than t IJ rn 't he' pap err ups ide d own. Th~s wi II he liP yo u to kiee'p track 0 f t iii e d u rEict~ on 'I n which yo. UIF snveto pe Is Igo~ ng. Y (J u W I'II t hen tiE! able to pradlct, somewha1s th[eIieffeot: ,an ~ll"Ilye[rtBd envelope wj~1 hlQ'lJeOr! p ~1:c vol u me, or tim b re', dep€i rid [Jng, 0 n wh ichi compo-h nent yo u ap p. ~y. It to. lh Ia t !likes serna g eu in g used 'to, but ,t ha rssu Its are well worth the Ei'Uort. Try des ~g nlJng a p,atch w nese h 8 rm on ics d ~sapp e ar and then ra-enter as 'in the above example t;y aprp~yln9 an ~i1'

verted snvetcne to 'the rhat has a doub~e attac.k.

vcr. 'fry

desi,gn~rt.g ,s, volume envelope

\Alhen you hit the lJ'nison swi tcl1 ,on a polyphonic synthesizer, you assign al] the' oscillators to a !Imgl@ ki~. So instead oJ an eight-yoke system wi tn two oscillators per key; you 'Wind.up \'Vilth a one-voice 'syst~m with sixteen o~inators per key. The
I [ ,




result oE this. is that that single key is able to produce a very rim and pOWltth~ sound. This is usefu] for praying leads or simple one-note pa ts that require a certain amount of punch,

For norma] operation most .5yndll.esi2lers function in a :mu1titrigger mod~. TIlls simp]y means that ev~ lime a new note is played it trt~ers th~ volume envelope to begin iis cyde. Theine .e some s"tuations when~ ]Jt 1S useful to b able to override this normal moat: of operation, For this purpose some syn thesiz en, include a fea' tli at allows you to choose between single and. mul Hple

'W'hen a synthesizer is in a stngle-trigger mode. ]t mea' tha t the vel ume envelope wil] only begin Us cycle when a note is played wi thout any ether nates al["ll:~.ildybeing' held down" In other w'·ords" if you were to playa note and then play a. second note withou ~first rele,Eilsing £irslt note, the volume en velape would only tr,igg,er on ehe first: note, The second note would be heard, but it would have' no separa te a taek. It would he as if a shared the first nete's fn,vi!lope and started in the middle of the envelope cycle during the sustain pertlon, like the untson and portamentc features, ~his eHect is especiaUy useful when. pl ayin2 solo ~E!ad.lines. It enables YO'U to add ve·ry discernible legato to '}llourphrasing. LegahJ t~f@l's to a way of ph rasing two no tes so ~ t lone leads srno oth~y into the ha as opposed to sta'c.~UD which means just the epposite-c a



y of phrasing tw',o notes rhar exaggerates their S€'parateness.

a sit1l1e-ttigger mode, all the notes in a phrase I~ha.t re a legato wi1J in fact share the same volume envelope, Only playtog without leg~bo I(UfHng ycrur finger ~·tween not@s) can !'etriggei[' he volume envelope,

now you should 'be accustomed


the idea 'that almost


synthe izer component is capable of being mcdulated .01" somehow by another component, A component such oscillator can even be controlled by another oscillator, medulation, as YCHJ. recall, is the I'r@'sU]J t of a ]ow-fuqIJ,ency modu.~alt]I1,ganother osciUator. In cross modulaUon ClsciIJator5 Jall wilt]lilll the audio range. The 0 utpu t of one



oscillator Is used to mo d.uJate second oscill ater, The this rncdalatien ]:5, tha ~ :n@'w frequencies (harmonics) are c~'ated, These ,~1"E' called sidebands, 5j debands ~:n~ also

when an [Fa' modula tes a regul~T osd] later ~ but because [FO is b€:h)'w theaudible range the side bands it creates inaudible, Thi S 1S a primitive form of' frequencymodu ~ FM)~,which we will discuss in greater deta il later on,

the harmonics created by this PU.1i('fSS necessarily f€ to each other as part of the na tural series, the' S eund that resul ts lea:n often be metallic and cla ngorous, It is 'V'i;'ry useful. f1fO!T creaHng bell-llke er~cts. metallic quall t~r Is a charac ~flTist]C' shaped by f,t,~.luu'·_ sync. En .fact I~he r~wo are oft!!fi confused because spite o.f the]! diffetenas they share one thing - they invc

eembinmg of two osci]] ators.

like, (".fiOS5 -rtlodulaUon., j nvol ves the combining of two oKi]la.·h:>rs.. The dUferenc.e is :i n how Oley are combined.. sync the output o:f one oscHI.a:l:or (tlh~ .sla'v'fl') is locked in to frequ,e.ncy of' ano'~hef. oscillator (th@ master) in such ,f,l way .re,p.['I~Ss fundarnenral of the sla V'~' escillator 'whil@ causing the tOI aeeentuate certain harmonics according; to where its own quency is set, \tVhaj'~happens i'n s,yn.chroniLation Is this:: Every the mas~e.!l'"selll ator hegins a new cyd.1e (gen@:ra.tgs, a sing;'le o
slave to do ~h~ same, :re,g~rdi~ of where. in its own cyde' the slave happens to be'.. The result of this
WB'V~t ~,~ for-c@sth~'

sUghHy sedcmaseehtsuc


Icycl e rus,beiliJg continually w,a:v-e tha·t is: responsible For the unusual harmonic properties 'sync. Sy[u: adds a mehlUic 0[' bell-like quality to it sound, ·w.fttbl!resting' e:Uect_,using s'yncr is to modul ate the pi tell of the

is that the slave's wave aJbbrev]ah~d.F It is this aJb'breviabOO

slave oscillator. This will yield. an unusual harmonic sweep. One word 0·£ caution ~ Some' manufacturers silll refer to s.yn'c as a type of cross moduletl on, They are. howevl;er'f dif£~T.@nl~ things. The point to remember ls that t.h~y b oth 'Produes a kind uf metallic

:r.:bllging sound.




os"cHla'hJr and the'ifl the other. Find a sOILJlnd wi'th Interesting upper h,lIrmon~cSl and try 'to desuglfl a beU·Uke patch. Hlnt: You'~~ want a h,a:rd~starort aHElick, so se.t U at zaro. [)CH1't use sustatn. Let the. decav take the place of' release.

U you take a color wheel made up of the primary colors red, yel]ow and blue and! sph, ~tquickly ~ the colors 'w]] I, start to ble'ndland blur U1nU] all you see is the color white. \I\fhitte is. defmed as comprising ,aU colors. There are 50 me' sounds in nature =- such as. ith.'~ wind, the ocean. and thunder, as weU as som€: percussive sounds Jil.e drums and handdaps - thiilrl ha ve no discer-nible pr'~ch. in fact, like he. color white. Ith,ese sounds are made up of. '~JaUjJrequenI ties spread equaUy across rhe audio spectrum, The best way we hiinTeto approximate Ithese sounds. is 'by generating a. ransignal resulting in a h.i!1iisingstaU,cUke sound that, like the unds i~ is a~;~@:mptlng mimic, is made up of all frequencies eo equ~ proportions. Wre cal] this 'WJ.u;~e·t1:orse, 'VV11ite neise has wide range of uses, In synthesis, frorm gene:rating ,frightening leHects to :imitating :~heproperties of various percussion ~,A lHtle~oiUch of white noise properly app]ioo can add a very authentic attack to a nul'e' sound, You may run in tor pin.k nois~ now and then (as in elephan t)" Pink ,u hite n018~ except Wlt h an emp hasi s on u e . .' ·'h 15 .,t..,,e same as w· te nni as) ~~~noesj ..... , inknoise IS ~~e.~ pm ' .n01se i not as brieh as w h-· . rigJ\t _ lre


• • d lV"'nm,~e '. l50 an. enttre [ y UI:.depen d ent sounc source. noise actually a spedaU.z;ed oscillator which is why. it fs generfound! near or around the regular 05C[U~,toIS. However', a dlffl~rence be tween whi'te' noise and the ~gu]ar wav,eform.osciUators is that ,lit usua1lly of,f@.JI's few' if any seleeparameters, In other 'words.. on most systems you can fDm [It on 0'[ off~ and t.hafs it. Even so, it is, !!ili,n an in~.. n_..

ble. sound. source and f'olh.U'ilately' to-day's newer synths are to offer a H.e~lemore control over tt,
32., !NoiiS8' M-Ike an ocean. Use
i9 l,ements"



LFO and a. ·alow at~

anc! rel!e'i3Js8'. M.akEi UUmdrEif. Some resenanee

wind. Brave the
Try creating

a :snare

(IO{)n''t 'for'9,et:your umbrella~)




with a famng pttcn, To d'o


~ou want to combine YOIJII' noise, source wlt"'l alnoth,er nd 5.0 urc 81, reWrller t he ma~ n OSC iUBlh)r or as a III ·ahiel!'fi1 VIe. atll oSC'Ullt,ing WteL YOlll'I'~ need to a,p,ply' an e,rnie1lope to t:l1e or youlll h,iiV8 to use ~he n~teji en'llelope to centro) an




trI a\fe, to hope t h,~t: yo ur 3')1 nth has so rne way '0 f b a Ian c~ g th'e iii ~e'velbe'tw,ee'lIl lh'lse two ddfanmt sound sources. Ilf not, at [least you tr~ed.

a,sciU,aUng tnter In ordar to create


drop in pitch. Then ycnll

Here .t:Ilr€' ust a few 'more exercises that should help you 10 in~ corp orate some of the different thi.ngs you've just learned. But first! want ~omake an important point. Sometimes we U&1l: syntn.esizeTs to mimic rea] instruments. (This. is no t to imply that syn~hes]uJS aren't real instruments, Of course they ar-e. But let's leave th " subject of reality aside for the moment.) Wha'~ I'm trying to say is Ithat even if you are able to design a patch that almost exactly duplicates the timbral qualitles of a natural inst rurnent, .li~f a Hute or a violin. tba'~ is still oHly half the bat tle Just as imp or ta:nt as being able to dup[ica te an instrumen'fs sound. is being able t,o dupJkate ~he performance characteristics of that instrument. For instance .. MO typical performance cha:ra,ct@:ris.Hcs of an el,lectnc gui tar are sl ides and bends. If you tried these .s:lllme slides and bends Ion a violin patch, n wouJdnl sound Hke a violin alt all. Another fa,ctor ~s
Brass instruments tend to be voiced more dOSE]}f t ogether than 'st:ri:l1gs. How you voice a particular pitt tch will a lang, way toward implying what instmrnenr you are tryirng imit'.~l '" Fin Ily, although there are always exceptions, ~he part ],tsflf w.iU ha vie a ~Ol~h) do with wl'Lelther a syn thesized pa t~h is convindng. For instance. you wouldn't play Hu~e lines with a voicing.

bass patch. Some of this may be obvious, but it 'is worth mentionLn.g. These subtleties can make all thf!: diH@:rMce"and it pa)l"S to keep them in mind whenever Y'01J are designing pa,tc.hes. Get [lU of the m:indse,t of being a keyboard player, You' re not. Yeu are playing whatever lnst rument or sound )N)U happe-n to have up at that moment.

t,he very begrnn rig of the sound. Add a s'l~ght amount of lFO

EX8f1cWse3'1. Design a IFlute Patch Start wUh a 'I.\'eryhollow~ s,olJncUli'ljQ wa'ilef'lorlffl (square or trlangIEl'). E'!JEHil Ilf your' SY5tem has two oscmators 'per velca, you ma'v only want U) use one, Se:t. the f'~'e~iJ'ancy ccntrots so that you are In 8J ','Iutie-like r'eglster (high}. The volume e'iIlvelope":s, attaclk shou~di be snort brut nDt, too snort. U' ~OIJ C·2n control 'It', add a touch or nclse to




ap.pUed to the. VCO. Add! delay to the LFO so that lit hi lntrocuced glradually. If ,your ~n~j'trrl.Jmeflt as a 8eparla:h~ pHch h e !1ve'lo pe r lty ad d i111'£1 a VE!:r, sl ig ht RJ ltc h be nd at the v'ery beg Inl

fling of: the flote.

Exercise' M. De'S ign an E- eclfi C III u itsr flo! is may t:aJke. a 10'[ of' tJi':J,s~ ermr~ bu~ h:~t·s g~VieIt a shot. F~r5t; yOl!l know there Is and! going 'to be a [ot 0 r h~ n-BflId di start fon a,rld feed baclk. so .,0 SHirt g ~U wilt hi chaos'S a bright and blJlzzy' w8\!',eform (a ,sa,wtootlh W'ttv.e' shoulid d~ itJ. N'Bxt open the fi Iter al ~'th e way (yo III can baGlk it off raUu, but Y.OILl want to start out wltn a rot of rleh harmo.Jn~c:s).

How a.bout some I"!lsonaJnce1 (Not tee much, or it may have U~,e effect of Feu nidi ng on so me! of lihe' up pe'f harmon IC5.) How about It'le volume e.nvelope:' You know you want a hard aUack. llund ~c\JJ'ilalSo want 10 exaggara-~Ie t'he a~tackby mlakinQI the sustaln
Io.wer.thanl the peak ~'e\fe'l(lout not too much Io.w,er). A slllght ae~aywliU do. And a small amount of Irele'ase. Adjus.t tine' aUack~ de-c.ay I' and sustaln portions 01' the f~lter I~n\!'elope 8'0 that it e)l;· sggera es "the hard attack,
Now comes the tricky part, We wan~ to put sorne

Intern-all metton tnto the SOll.JrH~~and there are Ell'QolJp l'9J 0" ways to do U. One would be to use aslow setUng on the lFO apply U 10 the fi ltar, Anoth€u would be to sne,ak a. sl(rwl'y la~'Eidi pulse w,ave lin there, We could even try to tUlnl8 the

latars apart Just 'enough so ,BS to. cr8,ate an tBxaggell'at€ld rusln~ effect'. lake. YCJ1lJf plc~, or maybe use tnem all. We' be preUy close at this. point. Fine tune ttu3. oVl,iuaJlll1 ~ ilt n tin e "in l,elr' eu ion ClQ II'rtroi ~ t he rsso na ne em an,d the p e. amOIJ nt, New we. get to wlh.a1'~ was ta,lk,lng abo.u1: before " n,g ,p effa ema m'J6I enaracterl st los. 'lhe' onlv con1 rol om t tu:~ lZ@'rr' that can really (I,et 'this p.8Jtch to seund IIlke ,an eleegui1aJ'Is the !pitch bend wheel. Practice i)ands. lry to tm1hek.inds ef mov,es t h,a1, are p art and ~Ha rljle~ of an !3'lectlri c soto. Rem'emb f, you are no Io.nger pll,BJylng ke1ybcards,. ara noW a le'adl glUu t a r~st so yQ u'd better act ~~ on e. Trry ke ng a Ion 9 S Iide d own the. fr'e~ ard, Th at' s th e Idea, be and Roll. Now, just watch out for unscrupulto1ijs record

~ 13'xe Cut Ives"


IiJEJ8Ii'c'iS'&i :15. IDas~gn ,. S[pI'CDS,hl pi C neese yo l!.I'rglaJ.axy and p !,~fIIst" II dOIll 't care, C'te ate a patch ttl tn lavo kes tine ,8~ lind 01I U FO h u r.ti In 9 at Ii'9fIlt spee d t,hre ug h t he co srncs, or may:be Ill'fU IIIg (r~t' over 8, CO ini"lrfi ~ id In. the mid d I,e c'f' KBrI! S8,~. f'ies, ~ t h,aJ1:t:h e re ~ no SOll n dl Ii. Ihl!!3 ~ac U iJ.! fill crt 'outer epac 9. What do S ~CHJ t h ink II ,am !it u pid or som-e'l hil rI Q 1" Wi'll at I wafil'~ 'to' 'Imtp~e8S u POll yOl! Is not to t a~e W\e I'fd so und enact s to r '9ranted, Here are some S'iJggle,sUcn,s" but SEH,icUJsly, do wh,~t.ever you wanl, Th e idea 1s tor you to b eiQ'(j me farn ~ Her 'iN I'~,h e! outer reaches 'i,h 'olf: ~CH.ll r synth e:stzllr, Pe'~:sona I[IY II I i ke a spao;esh:~ p Ui at rises ~ pl I:Ch as In d isa"~ pears, Into th e vo~d - So r des'l g,iI"i a IP~ e h 'en velo pe; an d It t you dll)IMIt h a,va a, pUch errvB,liO p,a. uy oSC i IIat ing th e fi Iter wll h l'\e:son,8Jf'Ic e ,8Jn us,1 the f i lter enve'io P€! to co ntrol p l'U:=h(we d ng t h tis in IExe mise 3). An at her way 0" do'l ng ttlill s WOy Id be to :se~ IIp. a, g !i"sdlual portam e nto, Th at way eve ry ti m:e 'yo IJ hit a .new II10te". tlhe~pil t eh wou Ids lid a into it (see I' ttl ~-r~ are m !3jfilYways to app ro ach 8 pr,o,bl,em), IN6',Xt! willy don't y,(JIIJlry some l FO ap ~ lied to the '100 and t he 'Ie F. IIII thii s c a.s~ II waul d U Sie ttl 8' L F'(V ~i squli11!! Wa,Vi~ 'I"~lit h 95 o ne, be cause ~f so much more dr,aJma'tic [han a s lF1~gula'F' o~d slne Of h"[ang'le' wave. ~Of course, ttrat's m1fepln lon ~ aJnd til 6S is V10 UIF :spa;cIBsh'1 pJ' A ton g [1~1 ~3S!~ WOll Id PJ'obab~ bB apprQ pri ats. M a,ylbe a ~Ute no i se'l i l' yo ill have It Yo. u might I WiD nt 1;0' foc I ~ro und 'iN I't h t fU3' sync co ntrel of' (H'QSB, maGiJilatKin. G,ot thl Idea? Ef'!~oyyourseU' .. Wa1.c nl out flo,r asteroids. And don'l "'or,g@~!,never trust a Kill n go i1~


. .

DDITIONALFEATURES ·· . A' '-IIE'S' ...... P r\., :-.'I-:-L' I-::--::-'T' ,,/'.,. A.B' - -' OC



,,1 _

so now werve covered :mnst of the fea~es ehathave to th ~a ~mgd]f.f@r~nt ll'pe.!i of sou nd, Next we're Boing' to litt1e about different k'@)Iboaro, modes ,_ the spHt for example. 'From there we'll talk ,~bout two pl ayback f'eiJJ'tlues.the arpeggiator and th'E!:se. Then 'we'll hatve a di scussicn about dRia - that ts, different systems for st.oring' ~d
tmg sounds and sequences, AHer "lha~WE'''~] run the typ]c~] in:plUlts. and outputs ~lOU are ']:ikely b) find . of your synthesizer, Get this stuH mastered, and y'OIilJ."u oa ]!01il:f. w~;y,r




IK,eu'ba,ard Modes ,~
There are two main keyboard modes: the' spli ~mode and the double mode, Each of. these modes enables you to play two compl ett:e]y difk'RTIt sounds (PI2JJ che!i) 'On the keyboard at the ~ sa,me time ~

S pi iii :Mlode
In split, mode one patch is assigned to the' left hal f oJ Ith~ keyboard and thle other patch is assigned to the riih~. n O systems the split point is, fixed sam@where a 1:"0 und middle C. On other systems the sp1L'tpoint. is varia ble' and. is set HlLuth 'way iii. transposit ion Is set - by hit ~ ing t he £~,ature switch (split k@ybuClJrd) and. then pressing a key' at the point you 'wish the sp] H polnt ~i() be, In a split mode" it j s then possible ,to play a bass, part with Y01JJ,:r ]@f.t hand and at the same time a compl ly different-sou ndIJ'Lgm~lody line 'with your right. I t s Lik@ thesizers l ling ~WO' .sy.n'!; . esizers rn one.

D o'l1Ilb lie Mad'l'


In do ubl'f: mode instead of 'being able to play two dl fFerenl patches on two separate parts, of the' keyboard, you are' able pla:y two 'en Hrely dtffe'rent patches on the, same key. Double model someti'mes, cal led lnyer:ed~ makes both patches playablf :simuhan~oush" Oyler tEn,eentire k'ey board .By bei rig a bl€: to , bine 'two (lom.p]e~~J~l :in.dividual patches and tit"igger them o.f.f same' key it is possih]@, to CR'ai~l'!!' Some very rich and compleK sounds. Most syn thesizers gi v~, you, the capa biU't.y for ba] the relative volume levels between. the two patches to '~nable you Ito achieve jU5,t the right blend. Again, this amounts te b~ing able to p]ay ,two syntheslzers at the same time, One' thing to keep in mind though is that, as '1Nith chorus ~ea,hJjre'~oubltng uses up twice the number of d oscillators avail ahle to Y'ou This" again, leaves you with half the number of polyphonic "Voices, so ~ha~f For ,e:xamp']e. i you had an eight-voice polyphonic and S'w.i' over tit) double mode 'You 'w(HJ1d then on] Y' be able to p[ay four notes at a time.






Whi1~ rna ny p olyphon ic syn thesizers offer a double me de ~ea.tu]'e there are several model S Ithat offer you the abili ty' to play as many as; six or more d]f.f,eren.~patches on the keyboard at ~he sa me lime. These are r€'f@:rn.'~dto as mul ~inmbral instruments .. 1 am referring in particular to tth~ Sequential MultrTrak series, These instruments have a s:tack mode lhat enables yOllJ to play aU six voices, each with ·a dUfere:n t pa tch r at the . .. same time. Their lim .' err irrutanon IS t.h a t. yon can on I'y pI _a:y rnonophcnically. that is, one' note ill t a time. There are also SOm~very expensl ve systems that offer rnultitirnbral features of lip to 32 voices and stili remain pclyphonic, Th@'.S@· systems _, llke the Syl1C[~vi~T'r ~he Faj:r]ight. a nd the Kurzweil - also ,uftF@,:r timul p!e·split poin ts, TI:H~ygi ve you the a bi] ity to assign as many as

b4 diHefe,rIit patches

kerb nard. Ineredible btl t true. Mote abou ~ these "super systems" '1ater . The' Foll ow lng' two- devices are fOIlJ nd on m~.ny of todays syn.dal!Esjz,ers. They have nothing to do with synthesizing

'~he ]iI2l1gth of the

9J1J!fLdper se, They'

, I



t['ig~ering: devices that

play notes

arpeggi:a.tor is analogous to t'he au tomattc machine guns see on M'i APfti 'Vice, I.t fs a devi(:·e o.n a s.ynt:l1esi2.ltr ~h~.t , ally r,etri~efS any note 01' group of notes for as long you held down the keys, The notes repeat in sequence {one tne- ot.her} and all a steady rate (in, Ie'V'€'JiL beats]. H has a control" wh ich en ables you to' vary 'the sp~d o£ ~-he s. So.m~ systems allow y·O'1I.1 to choose the. direction of the' ,...MI ... ·~ · ,FQ;r instance, if you W'~R to hold ... down the 'triad

E~Gr you could choose h) have it arpe.ggia.!le up (C=E-G) or

~ G-E=C}. Some systems offer a r and o'm, arpegglator so tile triad C" E,. 'G m lght a rpeggiate 'C-G-E~ C _,IE-G ~ etc; syst.e:m£offer a P rl on ty system, That means th:tl,t the will drp~i.a,tf!' in the order h' w hlch lthey wer~ :p]a.y~dJ if you played the no t~s E ~hen C and then G and held they would ,aLrpe,gg]a.-~e· that order. in Many ,aJrpe,ggi~ bOIS include a range switch, This func= automa a irpegg]ate whatever notes aJf@ held, plus





the sam,e no tes up Of down lone O'T two octaves. In other wo ds, you can be holding down I~hn~e notes and the arpeg,gwator" will play back as 'm,eMl'Iiyas nine. Some systems allow you. h) use the arpeggiator 'with the hiold function. 'This enables you to SE t up a sustained a.r-peggiation witthout actuaUy ha 11ing to hold d.own th@ no H. An arpegglator ~s a wond~itfu] performing and eomposi t~ ana] tIOO~. it perm] ~syou to develop parts tha t: in terms 0 rhyt accuracy and spmd would otherwise be difficult i not ble top] 3,11'.
1 '

Ex'eJeI5B 36~ The, Afp8gg~a~or Turn oln the arpe'ggiator and plav a, sllnglll e JiI o.h:~(tOI start en 'III Itlh ~t bD' a goo did sa to use a II'ateh
W itll ISJ she rt aJlU ac kh

V,iaJfYth e spaed! ecntrol, Thien pi ay 'two

th is 8rpeg g i,ellt,or.LI:s,tel'1l to how d i UEH8nt pate nes work d~ Uererl t ~ywhen t hey' aria arp eggll ated, Th is ~ mora than JllJst a! fun t,oy (a1though 8 It is def'ir:iIItely a fun toy)- It can also be a yery useflull ~oc~once you beeeme 'f,amiliar with Its flJI"1 potenttal.

tam ento, etc.~

n,oteiS at once, Thien. a flu. II Chord. ExperlimlEmt ""lUI an the filatures of your arpaggla1m til sing d i nerrE~ ch ord,s; w l'tli d iiffelre rrt voi cling s. Ch a ng e the nt dl reet ~Oln err 'line arpleg- g,1at I,on, C,h~!i! get he 11'8'g- a ;seUli rig!. I'f yeur n cU~H~jQJglia'tOlroarn,es with ill holdl swiltch (,sometimes ealiled lal-ch), t,Urrn lt 0111. Y(H~j"syntlhlesizer has, a e1hom memo'l)' swlrtc:h, see if that w,tll~ wo rk wi 1:11 1:11e air pelgg Ilatlo'r (soma do,. WII ~iholJt ma1l:Illng yo urser! dillY! Ss. e. hOW many ld liUerent f ILJ[I"IlC,t ions yo wean ge~, '~;O'ope~ate et 1,h& same 'l.ime~holld, enere memorv, pCH*


tn at will aisc h so me effect

The Seq -.nlcer

A, 'sequencer is like, a tape recorder ... without. Ith~ tape, Y(lU p[ay a piec,@ on the syntnesiz,er keyboard; and when ylou p pla,y on. th~ sequencer, i'~ wtll play back rx_acdy what yeu per-

fo(uu~d. The main diHe.r'ence 1'S. that instead of recording the actua] sound lor a perfonnanc@ it records only the key deprflS.'



ru PIE:S




sions. A good analogy would be the piano. rn]J on a player pian o, The piano roll, like a sequencer, doesn~t. record the actual sound of a plano piece, only :the key depressions, yet i'~ i-s able to reproduce the p rformance of the piano piece, That is how a sequencer operates.




Aapl aci ng Patches

One advantage' of this mode, ,of operation is that if you record a. piece into a sequencer and you are happy with the perfor-

mance but you don' ~ IfJk..e the sound of [th.~ p'43J'tch yo u used 'YOU can simply replace the p',aten. ThE' performance of t.h.e notes


stay the same, enly ~hti~ sound 'will change. For @x,llmp]e', S!a,Y you pl ayed a me~ody wi th a f]u:tedike patch and you dedde ~hi!l you·d. ra ther hear a trompe ~lilk!esound. You don"'t have to t play the part all over' again. All you do is change the [p,ateh, Thi would be impossible to d • Ion a tape recerder.

Chalg~ng Key :lInd Tempo

Another advantage of sequencing is tha ~ if you ha ve recorded a piece 'but find that it· is 1n .it diffictL],~·.kf!Y ~,.ou can transpose the' key with.out changing the tempo as you'd nave' to on a cenventiona!tape recorder, Conversely ~ with a sequ@HCt!r you can chang,ethe ~empc 'Of a piece without changi the. lkiey. Both rfeahues are made, p05sib~~ by ~he f aet that the sequencer recerding key depressions, not sounds.


IIAol::fin'l!i~!,1 II

on/O U8ln·t izing


f@a~ures of a sequencer is that many theM allew you to correct" your t]me. This ~s also known quti"tI'I~'P18' justificatiol1" This feil~1JJre enab]es you to p]ay or into the sequencer and, no mat ter how sloppily or eue you pl ayoo it, when . It is played back j t will. b@ in time. The sequencer actually moves the notes to I~he correct bea t" This ~atllre alone has enabled many a player with a vague SlfJ'1JSe of time to, learn a Jiving in
•• L~'L",

oJ the 'most important


re YO'ti are Uabll1! to find on ,(!IIny synthesizer with a ~ is ~'oopir1g, Looping, as its name implies, is a function IltO]rmU~lcallystarts a sequence over again hom the beginit has.reached its. end. ]t will repeat, 0]"' leop, over . Em.' as long as: the loopi ng fea't ure 15 engaged, This can for setting up a repeating pa Uern and th n improvising



over it - an lnteresting 'way to write 'or ,j ust as a way of a panyi ng yourself.

,Seq llJIence Ch s.1nii ng

If a synthesizer has the abiUty' tOI store several sequences in memo.ry·~ Y'rOU ·rna],.encounter ,3. fe~ttiJre' caned s-e.qu,ence t: ring. This fe-alu:re will automancally play one sequence after other in a. prede termined order resulting in one very 'long seq uence madre up .of sever al di:ff.ef,\en~ parts, Again, fh]s type
fe·al~1IJ.T.,e has many applications compositionally. Sequencers are normally sold as completely . components bom $11:1 thesizers. but a large number rof synthesizers have mcorporated it 'sequencer as a:norther one cf regu 13 r featu res, Wre call tIhES~ on-b,oara s~qu~nl~rsl and . a fe' ~he kiml ~h a t 'w,e are dh~c'lLt~sing here, In. general, tb,ese O~ hoard sequencers are not as powerful ,~:S their ]:fid~t!l.df:ltlt counterparts, but they perform incredible feats nonetheless. Some sequencers Rife capable of recording .rU:H only

performance control parameters as 'weU~ like veloci ty and pressure sensltlvl ly and 'pitch bend and modulation wheel moves.

keyboard depressions but

An ,of

th€!se d]:ffer'~nlf,e;a:t.u:nt!s, gi Vj2' you an enormous

amount of .nexib[]ity as fa.1r as recording and then manip


R eall ..'Tllmelrll,y' ,St:e p There are two w~ys of programming, or ] oading, a sequencer. lnr~Ql-·tim~ and by !5.tlfP.'jJ. Pr.ogramnl]ng ill n~'a]-,t i.. iU'IIol-ve.!i m,~
p[aYln;g y'O~u piece Hv~ into '~-hesequencer, just as; you would

on a tape recorder, Programming by step means that you ' '~O feed your piece' into it note by note, The' use of the term 'S.tep· rogr;~mfn hlg as it rel i1l tes to :Steq]1iJJ~:nJCE"l'S almost :idertUca1 p Is to the' sh:p programmi ng we discussed earlier, One ~fers to
lO\8!t1]:n,g a. sequence 'by s,tJEP (note by note) and the other 'rPfe.1"§ to ed.iting or programming any' synthesizer parameter b}.~ step

(parameter by parameter], One important considera ti OflL if: you, have a synhesizer 'with an on-board S€quel1cer is w hether Of not i~ wiH sync up to external devices such as drum machi nes or other sequencers. Some sequencers have ~he abHUy' to contrel, or drjve~ e-x-~~:rnal ~vi.c~s; some can be dr]ven by external d device5~ and. some are capab1r€' of: doing 'both. This ,ability' to sync. up ¥flUl an €1<-t€I.rna[ evice makes it possible for you to Ind corpora re your syn t·hesi.::er in to an expanded network of ,in" struments all working simultaneously as if they 'were a single instrument, W'e will dis-cuss, synchrordzaticnfurther when W~ tal k ;a'bou~' t.he wonderful 'world of 'M]:DI.