9.1 Advanced Synthesis: Time
Once you have generated your original sound, there are many ways to sculpt
your instruments. The following pages are devoted to Advanced Synthesis
techniques for Bass, Leads, Synths, Strings or Pads, and is not directed
at a specific software tool or hardware synth. Any modern synth, either
VST or Hardware can be used to create professional quality sounds, if
they are used correctly. Ensure that you understand the full functionality
of each VST or hardware synth. They are all based on the same principles
of synthesis but utilise them in a variety of ways.
Modulation With Multiple LFOs to Achieve Infinite
When modulating filters e.g. Phasers, Flanger and Chorus or modulating
synthesis attributes e.g. Pulsewidth or Modulation Depth etc, ensure that
modulation speed or LFO value is slow. This will create motions that interact
with each other to create a more organic and less static sound. If you
set each LFO to slightly different rates, you can achieve a tone that
Fig 1: Using multiple LFOs assigned to various parameters, the tonal variation
is almost infinite.
Every acoustic sound has an 'envelope', which is a representation of amplitude
over time. Many acoustic instruments, e.g. guitar and piano start instantly
and reduce slowly over time. A violin starts sounding slowly but sustains
at a relatively constant level as the instrument is bowed. When the bowing
stops, the sound dies away very quickly.
The Attack Sustain Delay and Release (ADSR) introduced in Chapter 7 is
an example of an envelope with 4 elements. All synths and samplers offer
envelopes of the simple ADSR which can be adjusted to create the a variety
A more complex Envelope can be used to create sweeping pads that morph
over time between a multiple number of envelope points. In more advanced
VSTs and synths, the envelope can be assigned to any parameter using the
Fig 2: The horizontal axes refers to time and the vertical access determines
the value of the destination filter, e.g. cut off frequency.
Track Automation is another example of envelopes which can be used to
apply effects to an entire track, e.g. adjust pan, volume or filter intensity
at specific points of the track. For example, when applied to cut off,
they can create regular, controllable rises and falls in cut off, either
recorded in real time using MIDI controllers or the mouse, or programmed
into the sequencer using a graphic interface (i.e. drawing lines).
Fig 3: An example of a cut of filter frequency recorded
over time using Track Automation.
Bounce to Audio
There are so many tricks and techniques to apply to a basic sound that
it is tempting to tweak and change a sound many times. To avoid the trap
of constraint adjustment to a synth, optimise the sonic quality as much
as possible in one session and then bounce the sound down to audio. Bypass
the instruments and effects to save processing power, and leave the option
of returning to your instrument open. Working with audio will add a sense
of completion to a particular layer, and allow you to move to the next.