Tips on synthesis and creating patches?

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RobotHeroes
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Tips on synthesis and creating patches?

Post by RobotHeroes » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:47 am

Greetings all. I am on a quest for knowledge.

Are their any books or resources that helped you better understand synthesizers and creating patches that you were shooting at creating? Any and all guidance would be very appreciated.
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Post by i_watch_stars » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:23 am

Don't approach it like you would Western History 101, don't be academic about it; this is an art, not an area of scholarship. The best way is to just dive in and shoot for a familiar sound, or to copy someone's cool sound. You will learn WAY more that way than any other way, and remember it much better too.

That being said, there does come a time and a place to begin reading. This is because there are some more esoteric sonic elements that you can exploit when you start doing more advanced stuff...this is especially true with FM. Start reading I would say a couple of months after you start sound designing. When you get to that point, check out these books on amazon;






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Post by RobotHeroes » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:38 am

Thanks. It def is an art. Mixing and shaping a wave to create that type of sound you are looking for seems like painting.

I've certainly read enough computer programming/scripting books to last me a lifetime, any more long winded academic books would drive me insane. In that case Mr. Oizo I am gunning for your electroish bass my friend. *twists knobs*
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Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:58 am

Here's a couple of resources that are written with a particular synth in mind but are really handy for any synth:

http://www.carbon111.com/evolverguide.pdf

http://www.access-music.de/downloads.ph ... irusc#cat4 (scroll to virus programming tutorial in english)

Best thing is both are free.

edit: the access site doesn't allow direct linking, so go to downloads for virus c, then click documentation, then scroll.

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Post by Yoozer » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:36 am

i_watch_stars wrote: Don't approach it like you would Western History 101, don't be academic about it; this is an art, not an area of scholarship.
Actually, -be- academic (but not boring) about it. Synthesizers are after all devices that have well, knob settings, and values can be quantized. Being artsy about it keeps people from learning the actually interesting stuff and results in "guys, how do I mix all my awesome vintage synths in an actual song because during my buying spree I haven't paid attention to anything else" questions; that's missing an important part of the process (namely, what happens after the signal goes out of the synth? Just as important in sound design in most cases!).

It's not black magic. There's no fairy dust. There's just excercising your ears to listen, and to know what to listen for.

I'll recommend this one here which costs you nothing and it's quite extensive, too:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm

Clavia's also got links to a big tutorial showing all kinds of weird (and academic!) stuff but it's good to have a Nord Modular or Micromodular in that case. Because that's a more open-ended machine, you'll be able to do things that aren't possible on most regular synthesizers.

There's also another, shorter feature which is a bit more reading-friendly but not as in-depth and it shows the development of synthesis technology (analog > FM > sample based > physical modeling > etc.).

edit: also holy URL length Batman! ;)
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Post by i_watch_stars » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:27 am

Yoozer wrote:
i_watch_stars wrote: Don't approach it like you would Western History 101, don't be academic about it; this is an art, not an area of scholarship.
Actually, -be- academic (but not boring) about it. Synthesizers are after all devices that have well, knob settings, and values can be quantized. Being artsy about it keeps people from learning the actually interesting stuff and results in "guys, how do I mix all my awesome vintage synths in an actual song because during my buying spree I haven't paid attention to anything else" questions; that's missing an important part of the process (namely, what happens after the signal goes out of the synth? Just as important in sound design in most cases!).

Guitars are also devices. They operate on acoustical properties. Therefore, the best way to learn to play guitar is to study the developement of guitars from the dawn of history, and study the construction and mathematical acoustics of the guitar's sound...

..right?

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Post by xpander » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:00 am

go to a large university and check out the bookstore (class textbook/reader area) and library- they tend to have much heavier reading than the lighter stuff you find at your b&n or borders. tinker and learn, both.

i strongly recommend Chowning's FM Theory book for FM synthesis, and there are a ton of mediocre substractive synthesis books around.

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Post by Entropy Farmer » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:36 am

i_watch_stars wrote:Guitars are also devices. They operate on acoustical properties. Therefore, the best way to learn to play guitar is to study the developement of guitars from the dawn of history, and study the construction and mathematical acoustics of the guitar's sound...

..right?
Terrible analogy. RobotHeroes did not ask how to play a keyboard.

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Post by Yoozer » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:41 am

i_watch_stars wrote: Guitars are also devices. They operate on acoustical properties. Therefore, the best way to learn to play guitar is to study the developement of guitars from the dawn of history, and study the construction and mathematical acoustics of the guitar's sound...

..right?
Your attempt at comparison falls apart because a guitar
- can't be operated convincingly with a remote
- has much more initial physical controls assigned to the sound
- never actually aims to hit those values exactly twice because of physical properties

which is all part of the charm of the instrument.

A synthesizer just needs a closed switch to make sound; early models didn't even have velocity. Intuitive approaches work nicely if you have that freedom of expression possible on a guitar; by the time you're finished assigning parameters to benders, wheels, knobs and ribbon controllers, you're already up to your neck n academia.

You can go the intuitive route and spend a lot of time on guesswork that'll be initially fun to do and eventually frustrating ("why can't I get it to sound like X?"), but you can also think a little bit and pull yourself through a workshop. Doubly so for slider/knobless synths and softsynths; there's a risk that one never ventures beyond presets or very minor adjustments discovered by accident.

To keep in line with your guitar comparison, reading stuff about it instead of randomly pushing buttons is like attending a masterclass of a session player who shows you the useful stuff he had to discover by trial and error and learning bits and pieces from other players instead of just understanding 3 chords and keeping it at that.

I'm not saying that a newcomer has to fill in a questionnaire to answer about the differences between a 18db lowpass as implemented in a 303 and a 24db lowpass diode ladder as in a Moog, but it's kind of handy to know what "cutoff frequency" means instead of just messing with a knob and going "omg it sounds like Daft Punk!"

Synthesizers were operated and built by engineers.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Post by memo » Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:53 am

Ideally, a good synthesizer user can conceptualize a sound, go to a synthesizer, and adjust the parameters within 95% of the mental conceptualization with little need to audition steps in between. This demonstrates a clear understanding of what each parameter does, and a clear indication that the individual can conceptualize signal flow and sound concepts rather than mess about via trial and error.

The polar opposite blindly twiddles knobs, and every now and then stumbles on something interesting via random chance.

If the first example is Shakespeare, the second is a monkey on a typewriter.

Who wants to be a monkey?
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Post by i_watch_stars » Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:02 am

Entropy Farmer wrote:
i_watch_stars wrote:Guitars are also devices. They operate on acoustical properties. Therefore, the best way to learn to play guitar is to study the developement of guitars from the dawn of history, and study the construction and mathematical acoustics of the guitar's sound...

..right?
Terrible analogy. RobotHeroes did not ask how to play a keyboard.
What exactly do you think "playing" a synthesizer is? Just playing a keyboard? Think about it....

Common people, I didn't say that one shouldn't read at all, am just talking about a middle road approach that combines both and not just pure academics.

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:24 pm

i_watch_stars wrote:
Entropy Farmer wrote:
i_watch_stars wrote:Guitars are also devices. They operate on acoustical properties. Therefore, the best way to learn to play guitar is to study the developement of guitars from the dawn of history, and study the construction and mathematical acoustics of the guitar's sound...

..right?
Terrible analogy. RobotHeroes did not ask how to play a keyboard.
What exactly do you think "playing" a synthesizer is? Just playing a keyboard? Think about it....

Common people, I didn't say that one shouldn't read at all, am just talking about a middle road approach that combines both and not just pure academics.
Nobody said anything about "playing" a synthesiser, the discussion is about synthesis, and how to achieve certain sounds using synthesisers.

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Post by CS_TBL » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:02 pm

Grab an easy synth / softsynth with a few sliders and start tweaking. Then go to the next synth which has more sliders 'n things, then go to the next synth, which has even more stuff, etc.

You might want to limit yourself to a limited synth. I've used a simple 2-op FM synth for ages (soundcard for a computer), but in the end I knew it as my own pocket. Currently I know large FM synths like my own pocket, and I'm sure it's because I've tweaked small synths until I really understood each and every parameter. FM isn't difficult, it's just that a good FM sounddesigner has tried all the relevant combinations before, oodles o' times. He just knows where to start when creating a piano, fires up some basic settings and goes tweaking from there.

Same with analogue'esque synths. Start easy, until you've really squeezed every last drop from it, then move up to the next synth.

The trouble with learning 2 parameters is that they might influence each other, therefore it could be tricky to exactly grasp which does what. It's like having a math formula with 2 unknown variables.. they could be anything. So, to eliminate these situations, try everything with one parameter first, then add parameters. The best way to learn things is to have a synth in which you can reset a sound to 'zero'. In FM synths this usually means starting with 1 sine operator, a brick envelope and no scaling/LFO/filters. Then you easily hear what each parameter does. Unfortunately not all synths have such a reset function.

and please.. those long links are fubar'ing this page
and what's with this forum anyway, it's going down with typical LFO intervals
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Post by ned-ryarson » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:40 pm

hands on training/tuition is the best way for synth theory to make sense at the beginning in my opinion. the tutor explains what he is doing and why this is affecting the sound, and if u dont understand, u can ask him to explain it better. (another plus is u can take YOUR synth to the tuition, so its more specific.)
after this get stuck in at home with ur notes or hand-outs or whatever.

after a while get a book on synth theory, and by that stage what u begin to read will hopefully make sense, and not just fry ur brain.

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Post by RobotHeroes » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:41 pm

memo wrote:Ideally, a good synthesizer user can conceptualize a sound, go to a synthesizer, and adjust the parameters within 95% of the mental conceptualization with little need to audition steps in between. This demonstrates a clear understanding of what each parameter does, and a clear indication that the individual can conceptualize signal flow and sound concepts rather than mess about via trial and error.

The polar opposite blindly twiddles knobs, and every now and then stumbles on something interesting via random chance.

If the first example is Shakespeare, the second is a monkey on a typewriter.

Who wants to be a monkey?
That's what I am aiming for. You hit the nail on the head memo. To be able to say well I want to create X type of bass, strings, pads, etc and understand what ingredients I need to achieve them, instead of twiddling about hoping things magically happen. In the way a chef can aim for making a cake and know what is the basis to make a cake and then add extra ingredients to make that cake special and delicious.
"*Automatic Gainsay, you ignorant slut." - Primal Drive

"thanks guys. RobotHeroes, your avatar is the single most important thing on this website. ever. it reminds me that the world actually can be a good place." - rjd2

:happy3:

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