Synth Programming (not coding, I mean... Whatever, I hope you get it)

category: music [glöplog]
It's been about a month since I've got 4klang. And now I finally understand that my synth programming skills sucks. Everything is randomly built and, of course, sounds like crap.

So... I really need a book about synth programming. Got a lot of material over the net, but, well... I don't trust them. I'd like to know our great scene musicians' opinion. :)
added on the 2011-02-15 08:09:14 by Danguafer Danguafer
only thing i can say is, get some (not too) complex synth which has sounds you like.
then try to figure out how these sounds are done and what each knob/slider will do effectively.
cause in the end, if its a subtractive synth, its always the same principle.

i would do that by settings all modulations back to 0 one by one so you'll end up with some simple "generator -> filter -> fx" pipeline which you understand. after that you can restore each modulation one by one and hear/understand the change of the sound.

that way you should be able to at least approximate the same sound in pretty much any other synth which offers a similar or identical set of generating/processing units.

added on the 2011-02-15 10:22:49 by gopher gopher
In fact - creating a synth from some arbitrary set of specifications will probably lead to a very boring synth that sounds almost like the one you imitated.

The very basics are pretty much the same (oscillators, filtering etc), but why not invent modules/units that does something from free imagination? It'll give your synth it's own unique sound to it.

Ofcourse - understanding the basics would be step one, but the second step could very well be to "invent" new algorithms to modify/modulate the output. It will both be more fun, less frustrating and eventually, you'll end up with your very own techiques of producing sound for you productions.
added on the 2011-02-15 11:11:02 by Punqtured Punqtured
That said - implementing your synth as a VST or similar plug-in-friendly synth would probably be a good idea. That way - musicians may use their prefered sequencer for composing. I was refering to each of the modules/units that can be controlled on the synth.

So basically - invent new controls that does something strange in a structured way ;)
added on the 2011-02-15 11:15:39 by Punqtured Punqtured

i think he meant programming in the sense of patch/instrument programming/configuration in a given synth like 4klang.
not programming an own synth himself
added on the 2011-02-15 11:47:18 by gopher gopher
Oh - So it seems.

In that case - I'm with gopher on the aproximation-technique as long as it's about getting familiar with your synths possibilities. When it comes to "inventing" new sounds, experimenting, trial/error and randomization is your friend ;-)

When you're creating a piece of music and comes to a point in your song where you think - "this part would benefit from a high-pitched lead, a deep bass or a phat pad-sound, knowing your synth and various effects/modulations is key.

Last, accepting the fact that a presets you create will never sound the same as it did in your head when you came up with the idea for it, will lead to a lot more music and far less frustration.

I usually do music this way:
1 - Come up with a general idea for your song
2 - Lay out the entire song using rough/poor/wrong presets
3 - Work on the presets you need for the release version
4 - Do some frequency-analysis for each preset to avoid too much overlap
5 - Adjust amplitude of presets to fit eachother

And you're ready to start the next song ;)
added on the 2011-02-15 12:02:58 by Punqtured Punqtured
If you're too lazy to properly learn patch programming you can always start from existing presets and tweak the sounds from there. That's basically what I've done starting from v2 all the way to 4klang.

I've always admired the hardcore sound designers & composers who know how to do this from scratch. Personally I never had the patience to go all the way. For example the soundtrack of Baghdad was based mostly on the existing 4klang presets. Guitar preset evolved into more sitar-like and wobbly bass was based on some default bass coupled with extra modulations and bit of distortion.

There - confessions of a scene musician. :)
added on the 2011-02-15 13:34:16 by melw melw
4klang is really tricky to use from scratch. I haven't gotten that "push 'n' pop" thingy to get something out of it. Starting with presets is mosdef the solution there. V2 for example is much more easier and cleaner interface to start from 0. Just switch the osc's on add some lfo modulate some values and BBOOOOOMMMM... you get acid sounds out of it. I like it. ;)
added on the 2011-02-15 13:50:26 by yumeji yumeji
What gopher said, basically. Buy/borrow a few nice synths or install a few plugins, and every time you find a sound that you would like to replicate, reverse engineer the hell out of it. Turn everything off that's tuned on (or set it to something "neutral") until you hear the bare oscillators, and then twist those knobs back to their original positions one by one to see/hear how they get you closer to the result. And, most importantly, try to think about what's happening there. Simple copying of parameter values only gets you that far (believe me - that's how the first v2 sounds came to life, and they're nowhere near the stuff people are doing with it nowadays).

In the end synth patch programming is like most other arts - lots of knowledge and experience involved. Just take your time to learn and experiment.
added on the 2011-02-15 16:57:15 by kb_ kb_
added on the 2011-02-15 19:48:47 by bizun_ bizun_
I was just thinking I could save some time. (lazyness speaking louder) :P But I will try to follow your advice. :)
added on the 2011-02-15 20:23:49 by Danguafer Danguafer
you could also learn about harmonics. and how sine affects the ear, what notes fit together etc. there is very old information from the early history of musics.
added on the 2011-02-16 12:47:41 by rudi rudi
rudi: popmusic! :(
added on the 2011-02-16 14:35:02 by Prot-DHS Prot-DHS
From other thread also by you:

I am aware of your distrust of the internet (which makes you asking for recommendations on the internet slightly ironic). However, I am sure that you will be soothed by the fact that Sound On Sound is an actual print magazine.
added on the 2011-02-16 19:29:44 by lug00ber lug00ber
Delicous PAPER! I can touch it with my hands - MY HANDS!
added on the 2011-02-16 22:08:31 by gloom gloom
It is also RIDICULOUSLY expensive here in NL -- a good read though.
added on the 2011-02-16 22:10:15 by trc_wm trc_wm
Proteque: hæ?
added on the 2011-02-16 22:50:46 by rudi rudi