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9. Electronic Instrument Creation

Understand Your Studio Tools

Understand the diversity of each VST or Hardware Synth in full.  Be aware of all the available parameters and how each can shape the sound.  Read the manual and load tweak the factory presets to fully comprehend the sonic variation.  Optimise the sonic quality and interest of each instrument.  Adding 10 average sounds is not as good as adding 1 amazing sound. 

Timbre Creation
Each of the timbres listed below in the timbre matrix can be created using subtractive synthesis, either hardware or software.

 

The timbre element are classified based on single unique qualities.  They can be combined to create more complex sounds, e.g. combining a sub Bass with a duck gate compressor produces a sub bounce.

 

Experiment with all of the values contained within to create your own variations.

 

Timbre

VCO 1

Cut Off

Cut Off

Type

Resonance

LFO 1

LFO 2

Modulation / Notes

Acid Stab

Saw

10%

Low

90%

n/a

n/a

Cut Off Modulation to ADSR
Attack = 0ms
Decay = 1000 ms

Cut Off

Any

50%

Band Pass

10%

n/a

n/a

Use track automation or record the movement of the cut off filter to produce a filter rhythm.

Detune

Any

Any

Any

Any

1/2

n/a

Set the LFO to oscillate randomly, I.e. not sine or step.   Pitch modulated to LFO.

Didgeridoo Bass

Square

50%

Peak

90%

1/1

1/4

Cut Off Modulation to LFO1 and LFO2

Distorted

Square

10%

Peak

75%

n/a

n/a

n/a Add Distortion

Dynamic velocity

Any

not constant

Low

50%

n/a

n/a

Velocity modulated to Cut off, i.e.
note played softly = low cut-off
note played loudly = high cut-off

Electricity

Any

not constant

High

50%

1/4

1/2

LFO 1 = sine
LFO 2 = random
Cut off modulated to LFO 1 and 2

Fall

Square

10%

Peak

75%

n/a

n/a

Pitch Modulation to ADSR
Attack = 0ms
Decay = 1000 ms

Garage Warble Bass

Saw

50%

Low

25%

1/8

n/a

Cut Off Modulation to LFO 1

Gate

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

 -Depending upon your sequencer, the set up may vary.
1) Choose an instrument (destination) with a side chain input.
2) Select the instrument to be gated in the side chain (source).
3) The destination instrument will play the source.

Growling Bass

Square

10%

Peak

75%

n/a

n/a

Add Distortion

Harmonix

Saw

100%

Peak

90%

n/a

n/a

n/a

Hi pass

Square

75%

Hi

10%

n/a

n/a

n/a

High Pitch

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Play above C 5

Low Frequency

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Play below C 3

Motion

Square

50%

Peak

25%

3/1

1/1

Cut Off Modulation to LFO1 and LFO2

Motion LFO Regular

Any

not constant

Low

25%

1/4

n/a

Cut Off Modulation to LFO1

Motion speed up

Any

not constant

Low

25%

dynamic

n/a

Cut Off Modulation to LFO1.
LFO 1 value increases from 1/4 to 1/32

Noise

Any

50%

Peak

10%

n/a

n/a

 

Phatt

Square

10%

Low

23%

n/a

n/a

 

Portmento Bass

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Increase portmento / glide setting so one frequency bends gracefully to the next.

Pump / (Duck Gate)

Any

Any

Any

Any

n/a

Any

1) Add a compressor to the instrument
2) Change the input or side chain to receive input from a source, e.g. Kick drum.
3) Reduce the threshold and the compression reduces each time the source sample is played.

4) Mute the source to make the instrument duck without the sound of the source.

Resonance

Any

10%

Low

90%

n/a

n/a

 

Retro

 

 

 

 

 

 

These sounds are distinctive and complex - get sample CD

Rise

Any

Any

Any

Any

1/1

n/a

LFO 1 = saw up
Pitch Modulated to LFO 1

Siren

Any

Any

Any

Any

2/1

n/a

LFO 1 = sine
Pitch Modulated to LFO 1

Slow Attack

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Any

Cut Off Modulation to ADSR
Attack = 1000ms

Square Bass

Square

25%

Low

10%

n/a

n/a

 

Squeltchy

Any

25%

Low

75%

n/a

n/a

Resonance Modulation to ADSR
Attack = 100ms
Decay = 100ms

Stab

Any

25%

Low

25%

n/a

n/a

Cut Off Modulation to ADSR
Attack = 0ms
Delay = 500ms

Sub

Square

10%

Low

10%

n/a

n/a

Play below C 2

Sweep

Any

not constant

Band Pass

25%

4/1

n/a

LFO 1 = sine
Cut Off Modulated to LFO 1

Theramin

Sine

50%

Low

25%

1/2

1/4

LFO 1 = random, Modulated to Pitch, value 1/4 semitone
LFO 2 = sine, Modulated to cut off
Add Portmento.

Tremolo

Any

Any

Any

Any

1/4

n/a

LFO 1 = sine, Modulated to Pitch, value 1/4 semitone

Vocal Timbre

Voice

 

 

 

 

 

Re Synthesis.

Sample the vocal note and map to the entire keyboard.

Wicka Wa

Any

not constant

Band Pass

Any

n/a

n/a

Use track automation or record the movement of the cut off filter to produce a filter rhythm.

Wowo

Any

not constant

Low

Any

1/8

n/a

LFO 1 = sine
Cut Off Modulated to LFO 1

Wowp

Any

not constant

Low

Any

n/a

n/a

Cut Off Modulated to ADSR
Attack = 0ms
Delay = 500ms

 

Musical Sequence Categories: Single Note
Once you have created your ideal sound, the next step is to determine the Sequence Category.  The most common Sequence Category is a Melody, i.e. any note in a scale that meet the emotional requirements of the song.

 

The other Musical Sequence Categories listed below offer a variety of techniques to explore, mix and match.  They are all specified for playing 1 note at a time, i.e. Bass and Lead.

 

Fig 1: Arpeggio

The notes of a chord played individually, rising or falling.

Sequence Arpeggio.mp3

 

 

Fig 2: Arpeggio Moving

Arpeggio played with a variety of chords moving either up or down.

Sequence Arpedggio Moving.jpg

 

 

Fig 3: Hypnotic / Psychedelic

Repetitive melody.

Sequence Hypnotic.mp3

 

Fig 4: Jazz

Melody using Jazz scales.

[See Appendix 1 for a list of scales]

Sequence Jazz.mp3

 

 

Fig 5: Machine Gun                  

Melody played using 1/16th notes with modulating timbres.

Sequence MG.mp3

 

 

Fig 6: Melody

Sequence of notes that form a tune.

Sequence Melody.mp3

 

Fig 7: Micro Sequence

Sequence of notes using a grid of less than 1/16th bar.

Sequence MS.mp3

 

 

Fig 8: Polyrhythmic Lead

Note that is sequenced with a rhythm outside of the main rhythm.

Sequence Polyrhythmic.mp3

 

 

Fig 9: Rhythmic Repetitive

Note repeating at a regular interval, e.g. every 4 bars or every 1/2 bar.

Sequence Rhythmic Repeat.mp3

 


Fig 10:
Rhythmic 16th

1 note played every 8th or 16th note,  with many filters, e.g. cut off, resonance etc, modulating every 16th note.

Sequence Rhythmic 16.mp3

 

Musical Sequence Categories: Multiple Notes
For Synth, Strings and Pads, i.e. where more than 1 note is played simultaneously, the following musical terminologies can be used.

 

2 Notes

2 notes played together a set tone apart, e.g. 5ths, 7th or 9ths etc.

3 Notes

Triad: Major, Minor

4 Notes

Quad: Major 7, Minor 7

 

A list of the most common Chords is in Appendix 2.

 

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