Author Topic: How do you synth?  (Read 5195 times)

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Offline Brom

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How do you synth?
« on: July 06, 2010, 12:48:53 PM »
There must be out there lots and lots of synthesists who by no fault of their own are non technical (nothing wrong with that, and probably a good thing). However, I’ve sometimes wondered how do such folk manage when presented with the bewildering array of controls offered by the jolly old synth.

These days of course, with the advent of digital technology, scores of presets exist, and the novice can tweak at their peril with the comfort of knowing that they can revert to the saved default with a push of a button.

Back in the analogue days though, unless one had a crib sheet the learning curve of synthesis was probably a bit of a journey on uncharted and often discordant or sometimes silent  waters.

Even though I was never going to own a Mini Moog, I remember twiddling with its gorgeous control panel in several shops in London in the 70’s. Having a bit of electronics knowledge I was able to drive the thing without much difficulty as the layout was very similar to that of an electronic circuit. I could virtually “see” the circuits underneath, the signal flow was logical, in general from left to right,  with words like amplitude modulation and pulse width being familiar rather than needing looking up in a manual or dictionary. The only thing that gave me any trouble playing with analogue synths was the row of white and black things along the front!

Then of course there’s FM!

So Jem and all you other ivory tinklers, what I'd like to know is - how do you synth?, by becoming a technical guru, reading  the manual, or sucking it and see?
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Offline gr8gonzo

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 01:26:39 PM »
With my first real synth, I read the manual and spent many fun-filled hours creating/modifying sounds. It was fun at the time, but failed to spark a life long love of such things. Since then, I rarely do anything outside of playing with the portomento setting or transposing the key. Yeah, I'm boring that way. But, my songs are decent.  :D
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Offline dtscape10

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 04:06:13 PM »
With my first synth, a Roland Juno 6, I read the manual several times.... didn't understand what it was all about at the time as I was 12 ( not that it makes any difference as i still don't understand it and I'm nearing 40 now !!!!). I spent hours and hours on it muckin around with HPF and ADSR etc. I learnt a lot on it...

Now I tend to suck it and see... especially if there is a particular sound I'm trying to emulate. Most of the time I find a similar sound and effect the hell out of it!!!!!! Wonderfull stuff !!!!!!! :D

Offline Jim Takacs

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2010, 10:37:43 PM »
Interesting topic and to be honest, as of late, I have been a Preset whore! But, With my V-synth, Editing is so easy and intuitive, I very rarely use presets. With my K2600 and Oasys, I have NEVER edited and saved a custom sound, Crazy I know. The Kurzweil is just soo easy to grab a control and tweak and since I'm sequencing in that environment, all the control data and changes are recorded in real time so my Program # 46 will not sound exactly like your Program # 46.  Back when I got my Sequantial 6-Track, all I would do is program sounds. I would quite literally stay up all night working on a single sound. I Remember my Fav. sound I ever made was called Car driving in Snow. It sounded exactly like a Car Driving through about a foot of compacted snow. Taadaa!! :?  Then The D-50 came into my life which left me with many more sleepless nights! I feel very lucky to have been into MIDI and Programming right in the middle of what I consider the "golden age" of Synthesis. When MIDI was New, 16 note Polyphony was incredible and Multitymbrality was just a dream! I still get a kick out of how things have come full circle! Back then programmers tried their hardest to make synths sound like the real instrument, Now we are trying to make an instrument that basically does in fact emulate the real instrument faithfully sound like its not supposed to! For me though, The coolest thing about synthesis is the fact that you can create a sound never before heard!  ;)
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Offline E.S.

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 01:47:28 AM »
Trial and error. Sometimes I sit down and read the manual to really find out how the machine works, and sometimes I just go for it. That's usually when the original sounds are created, when I don't know what I'm doing. I rarely use presets, and if I do, 9 out of 10 has been tweaked a little bit.
It's fun to learn how to do it traditionally too. Analog synths are great for that, they are so intuitive and easy, compared to the big workstations with lots of fiddly widdly settings that only the manual can reveal.
I even got into programming the Yamaha DX-7 at one point. Massive headache, but it is possible. Too bad I only made analog-sounding presets on it.

The most fun is to shut my eyes and go wild on the knobs on my Alesis Andromeda. Tons and tons of knobs. I've made some really bizarre shit by doing that. Usually not very useful though.  :lol:

Offline vocalnick

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2010, 05:58:18 AM »
I was a complete preset-whore until I had to replicate all of our VSTi-based keyboard sounds on an Alesis QS6 for our live show.

After some delving into the manual, it all clicked into place in my head :)
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Offline Jem

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 10:20:29 AM »
Back in the day before I had a job and a wife and 4 kids, I'd tinker endlessly with my synths. These days I tend to start with a preset and faff with it until I get what I want. Or just use a preset and get on with it. The only time I read the manual is if there's something hugely specific I need to do in order to maximise a bit of kit's potential, most recently I was trawling the Virus' manual to see if I could get rid of the horrendous pitch bend lag. And I could! There's a little button hidden deep inside a menu called "Smoothing". If you turn that off, it becomes as sharp as a scalpel on the wheel.  :D

Offline El_Mayonnaise

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2010, 10:55:20 AM »
i originally went the manual route but for the uninitiated it can be a real headache. When it comes to opperation of the gear then manual. The creation of synthesis, get stuck in :D

Offline Fat Bastard

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2012, 02:52:19 PM »
So many presets in so many softsynths and so many of them are great straight out of the box.

I just have to have my little fix on the modular synth toys just to get out of the computer and mouse game - so much more fun patching modules and physically making changes....also sounds a lot more heavy duty too.

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Offline Mikey

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 09:59:39 PM »
I like these re-generated threads  :D
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Offline Brom

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2012, 08:11:03 AM »
Quote from: "Mikey"
I like these re-generated threads  :D

Ditto!  :D
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Offline RacingHippo

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2012, 09:28:47 AM »
Quote from: "Brom"
Quote from: "Mikey"
I like these re-generated threads  :D

Ditto!  :D
Our Mr Bastard clearly has far too much time on his hands, which he's spending VERY wisely by reading the entire forum archive.
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Offline Brom

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2012, 12:11:41 PM »
Talking of synths - I recently acquired a Korg Monotron. Being a TOTAL amateur when it comes to keyboard playing, it offers another dimension to my pad based studio setup. (Kaossilator, Kaosspad, DS-10). It's great fun for setting up and playing with Tangerine Dream like sequences, plus it's got some real knobs to twiddle!

The quirky bits I also like about it includes an accurate tempo setting method (Normally set by a less than precise knob) - which involves downloading a free app to your i-device which then produces a repetitive click and then feeding the audio output into the Monotron's synch input; and also the way the firmware can be reprogrammed. You download a .wav from the Korg website and then play it into the Monotron, just like the old BBC-B and Spectrum days!  8-)
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Offline Fat Bastard

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2012, 11:21:40 AM »
Quote from: "RacingHippo"
Quote from: "Brom"
Quote from: "Mikey"
I like these re-generated threads  :D

Ditto!  :D
Our Mr Bastard clearly has far too much time on his hands, which he's spending VERY wisely by reading the entire forum archive.
Huzzah!

Ha ha ! - Caught in the act ! - Yep, sad to say that I did trawl through all the threads .. . . as one does being a new-ish frostie

Great place to be !

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Offline E.S.

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Re: How do you synth?
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 08:08:05 PM »
Quote from: "Brom"
Talking of synths - I recently acquired a Korg Monotron. Being a TOTAL amateur when it comes to keyboard playing, it offers another dimension to my pad based studio setup. (Kaossilator, Kaosspad, DS-10). It's great fun for setting up and playing with Tangerine Dream like sequences, plus it's got some real knobs to twiddle!

The quirky bits I also like about it includes an accurate tempo setting method (Normally set by a less than precise knob) - which involves downloading a free app to your i-device which then produces a repetitive click and then feeding the audio output into the Monotron's synch input; and also the way the firmware can be reprogrammed. You download a .wav from the Korg website and then play it into the Monotron, just like the old BBC-B and Spectrum days!  8-)
The Monotron is a great little noisebox. I've used it a lot for sound design, sampled it, made sequenced patterns with it and everything. It's lovely. And that screaming filter is evil!