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Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard: From Presets to Power User

Book Description

With the rise digital recording software and the advent of the "one man computer music studio" there has been an astronomical rise in the number of people with software instruments, but many of these musicians have no idea how to use the modular synthesizers included with their music software programs. "Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard: From Presets to Power User" is the first book that explains what a modular synthesizer is, how it works, and how to use software synthesizers to make music. The book takes a highly practical approach to the subject providing a readable guide which opens up the subject to a broad spectrum of readers. It begins by explaining what the basic building blocks of modular synthesis are, and how they interact. Then it continues to specific exercises utilizing software synthesizers that will be readily available to the reader, regardless of platform or digital audio workstation of choice.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
  4. Introduction
    1. About This Book
    2. A Short History of Synthesizers
    3. Synthesizers in the 21st Century
      1. Fixed Architecture
      2. Synthesizer Building
      3. Modules and Wires
    4. Different Synthesis Techniques
      1. Subtractive (“Analog”) Synthesis
      2. FM/PM (Frequency Modulation/Phase Modulation or Phase Distortion) Synthesis
      3. Additive Synthesis
      4. Sampling
    5. The Featured Synthesizers
      1. SynthEdit
      2. KarmaFX Synth Modular
      3. VAZ Modular
      4. Zebra 2
      5. A Quick Word to Mac Users
      6. So Which Synth Should I Choose?
    6. Further Reading
  5. 1. An Introduction to Digital Audio and Software Synthesis
    1. Problems?
    2. Music-Making Computer
    3. Software Synthesizers
      1. Synthesizer Accompanying This Book
      2. Formats and Compatibility
        1. VST/VSTi
        2. DX/DXi
        3. RTAS
        4. AU (Audio Units)
        5. Stand-Alone
    4. MIDI and Human Input Devices
      1. MIDI Channels
      2. Splits and Layers
    5. Plug-In Host
      1. Free/Low-Cost Hosts
      2. Setting Up the SynthWiz Simple Synth in a Host
        1. Installing the Plug-In
        2. Running SynthWiz Simple Synth under SAVIHost
        3. Setting Up the Audio under SAVIHost
        4. Setting Up MIDI under SAVIHost
        5. VSTi Scanning: Running SynthWiz Simple Synth under Project5
    6. A Bit of Know-How...
      1. Understanding Digital Audio
        1. Bit Depth
        2. Sample Rate
        3. Interaction between Sample Rate and Bit Depth
      2. Latency
        1. Audio Conversion
        2. Dealing with Latency
      3. Audio Drivers
        1. ASIO for Windows
      4. Aliasing
    7. Moving On
  6. 2. Getting a Grip on Synthesizer Programming
    1. Synthesizer Basics
    2. Getting Started with Synthesis
    3. How to Use SynthWiz Simple Synth
      1. Waveform Selector
      2. Sliders
      3. Direct Text Entry
      4. Output Meter
    4. The Elements of Synthesis
      1. Sound Sources
      2. Filter
      3. Modulation
      4. Volume Envelope
      5. Filter Envelope
      6. Filter Key Tracking
      7. Output Level
    5. Making Sounds
      1. Soft Bass
      2. Pad
      3. Filtered Noise
      4. Squelch
  7. 3. Synthesizer/Patch Construction Basics
    1. Audio Path and Non-Audio Path
      1. Audio Path
      2. Control Elements
      3. Modulation Elements
      4. Modulation: The Concept
        1. Effect of Velocity on a Sound
        2. Effect of Key Pitch on a Sound
        3. Effect of Time on a Sound
        4. Combining the Effect of Velocity, Pitch, and Time
      5. Modulation Sources and Modulation Control Sources
        1. Velocity
        2. Envelopes
        3. Key Tracking
        4. Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheels
        5. XY Controllers
        6. Aftertouch
        7. MIDI Control Change
      6. Modulation Destinations
        1. Volume
        2. Filter
        3. Pitch
        4. Pulse-Width
        5. Pan
      7. CPU Considerations
    2. Synthesizer Construction Basics
    3. Reconstructing SynthWiz Simple Synth
      1. Audio Path
      2. Inputs and Outputs
      3. Basic Controls
      4. Modulation Envelopes
      5. Modulation Envelope Controls
      6. Volume
      7. The Finished Synthesizer
    4. Construction with Zebra 2
      1. Loading Modules in Zebra 2
      2. Hooking Up the Audio Path in Zebra 2
      3. Attaching the Modulators in Zebra 2
      4. Saving in Zebra 2
    5. Construction with VAZ Modular
      1. Loading Modules in VAZ Modular
      2. Hooking Up the Audio Path in VAZ Modular
      3. Attaching the Modulators in VAZ Modular
      4. Saving in VAZ Modular
    6. Construction with KarmaFX Synth Modular
      1. Loading Modules in KarmaFX Synth Modular
      2. Hooking Up the Audio Path in KarmaFX Synth Modular
        1. Using Menu Selection to Hook Up the Audio Path
        2. Using Mouse Click to Hook Up the Audio Path
        3. Audio Path for This Sound
      3. Attaching the Modulators in KarmaFX Synth Modular
        1. Using Menu Selection to Hook Up the Modulation Envelopes
        2. Using Mouse Click to Hook Up the Modulation Envelopes
        3. Controlling the Modulation Envelopes
      4. Saving in KarmaFX Synth Modular
    7. Construction with SynthEdit
      1. Saving in SynthEdit
      2. Loading Modules in SynthEdit
      3. Hooking Up the Audio Path in SynthEdit
        1. Using Menu Selection to Hook Up the Audio Path
        2. Using Mouse Click to Hook Up the Audio Path
        3. Connecting Up the Audio Modules for This Synthesizer
      4. Attaching the Modulators in SynthEdit
      5. Adding the Controls in SynthEdit
      6. Adding the Finishing Touches in SynthEdit
        1. Level Meter
        2. Key Tracking
        3. Range Limiting
        4. Setting the Default Values
      7. Interface Building in SynthEdit
      8. Exporting a VSTi from SynthEdit
    8. About the Rest of the Book
  8. 4. An Introduction to Sound Sources
    1. Basic Wave Shapes
      1. Sine Wave
      2. Sawtooth Wave
      3. Square and Pulse Waves
        1. Pulse-Width Modulation
      4. Triangle Wave
      5. Noise
    2. Complex Wave Shapes: Combining Sounds
      1. Doubling Oscillators
        1. Oscillator Phase and Polarity
        2. Hard Sync
        3. Oscillator Detuning
        4. Multi-Oscillators
      2. Combining Oscillators
    3. Sample-Based Synthesis
      1. What Is Sampling?
        1. Realistic Representation or Re-Creation of a Musical Instrument
        2. Using Sampled Waves as the Sound Source in a Synthesizer
        3. Loops
      2. What Is a Sample?
      3. Deploying Samples
        1. Single-Cycle and Longer Waves
        2. Multi-Samples Versus Single Samples
        3. Key Ranges
        4. Velocity Ranges
    4. Additive Synthesis
      1. Additive Synthesis: Basic Principles
      2. Additive Square Wave
      3. Additive Sawtooth Wave
      4. Additive Triangle Wave
      5. Difficulties with Additive Synthesis
    5. Frequency Modulation (and Other Sorts of Modulation) Synthesis
      1. Operators
      2. Getting a Grip on FM Programming
        1. Simple FM
        2. Parallel Carriers
        3. Parallel Modulators
        4. Cascade
      3. Controlling FM Sounds
        1. Envelopes
        2. Velocity Scaling
        3. Key Scaling
      4. Quick and Dirty Guide to FM Synthesis
        1. Carrier:Modulator Ratio
        2. Carrier:Modulator Ratios That Work
      5. Ring Modulation
    6. The Available Sound Sources
    7. Sound-Creation Modules in Zebra 2
      1. Osc: Oscillators
        1. Wave Selection
        2. Mix
        3. FX
        4. Phase
        5. More Osc
      2. FMO: Frequency Modulation Oscillators
        1. Main Controls on the FM Oscillator
        2. FM Modes
        3. More FMO
      3. Noise: Noise Source
    8. Sound Creation Modules in VAZ Modular
      1. Common Controls
      2. Oscillator
      3. MultiOscillator and Multi-Saw Osc
        1. MultiOscilIator Controls
        2. Multi-Saw Oscillator Controls
      4. Cosmo A Oscillator
      5. Comso B Oscillator
      6. Noise Source
      7. Sample
      8. Sine Oscillator
      9. Wavetable Oscillator
      10. WTVoice
    9. Sound Creation Modules in KarmaFX Synth Modular
      1. Osc 1
      2. Osc 2
      3. Sampler
      4. Additive
      5. Pad
      6. Noise
    10. Sound-Creation Modules in SynthEdit
      1. Oscillator
      2. Phase Distortion Oscillator
      3. SoundFont Oscillator
  9. 5. Filters
    1. Filter Types
      1. Low-Pass
      2. High-Pass
      3. Band-Pass
      4. Notch (Band-Reject)
      5. Peaking
      6. All-Pass
      7. Formant
      8. Comb Filters
    2. Filter Parameters
      1. Cut-Off Frequency
      2. Resonance
      3. Bandwidth
      4. Drive
      5. Filter Slopes
      6. Moog, SVF, 303, Zolzer, and So On...
    3. Controlling Filter Parameters
      1. Controlling Filter Cut-Off
      2. Key Tracking and Filters
      3. Controlling Resonance
    4. The Available Filters
    5. Filter Modules in Zebra 2
      1. VCF Filter
        1. Low-Pass Filters
        2. Formant Filter
        3. High-Pass Filters
        4. Band-Pass Filters
        5. Notch Filters
        6. All-Pass Filters
      2. XMF: Cross-Modulation Filter
      3. Shaper
      4. Comb Filter
    6. Filter Modules in VAZ Modular
      1. One-Pole Filter
      2. The Filter
        1. Type A Filters
        2. Type B Filters
        3. Type C Filters
        4. Type D Filters
      3. Filter K
      4. Filter R
      5. Filter S
      6. SVFilter
      7. Comb Filter
      8. Vowel Filter
      9. Waveshaper
    7. Filter Modules in KarmaFX Synth Modular
      1. Low-Pass/High-Pass/Band-Pass/Notch Filters
        1. SVF Filter
        2. Zolzer Filter
        3. Moog Filter
        4. 303-Like Filter
      2. Comb Filter and All-Pass Filter
      3. Formant Filter
    8. Filter Modules in SynthEdit
  10. 6. Modulation and Control
    1. Introducing Envelopes
      1. ADSR Envelopes
      2. DAHDSR Envelopes
      3. Multi-Stage Envelopes
      4. Other Envelope Controls
        1. Envelope Curves
        2. Bipolar Envelopes
        3. Envelopes and Samples
        4. Key Tracking and Envelopes
    2. Envelope Followers
    3. Low-Frequency Oscillators (LFOs)
      1. Main LFO Controls
        1. Wave Shape
        2. Frequency
        3. Depth/Amount
        4. Phase
        5. Monophonic/Polyphonic LFOs
      2. LFO Modules
        1. KarmaFX Synth Modular LFO
        2. LFOs in VAZ Modular
        3. LFOs in Zebra 2
      3. Creating an LFO in SynthEdit
    4. Step Generators
    5. Synthesizers in Real Time: Control and Automation
      1. XY Pads
        1. Assigning the XY Pad in Zebra 2
        2. Setting XY Pad Ranges
        3. More Complex Applications of XY Pads
      2. MIDI Learn
      3. Automation
        1. Preparing to Automate
        2. Recording
        3. Drawing
  11. 7. Global Controls and Other Modules
    1. Global Controls
      1. Polyphony
      2. Portamento
        1. Legato Mode
        2. Retrigger Envelopes
        3. Glide Time
      3. Pitch Bend Range
    2. Amplifiers
    3. Switches, Mixers, and Splitters
    4. Inputs and Outputs
    5. Inverters, Multipliers, Mathematics, and Logic...
      1. Clever Stuff in VAZ Modular
        1. Gate Logic
        2. Inverter
        3. MinMax
        4. Scaler
      2. Clever Stuff in SynthEdit
        1. (Simulated) Logic Gates
        2. Mathematical Functions
        3. Inverter
    6. Visualization Modules
      1. Volt Meters
      2. Level Meters
      3. Frequency Analyzer
      4. Oscilloscope
  12. 8. FX Units
    1. Deployment of FX
      1. Insert FX
      2. Send FX
      3. Using FX in Practice
    2. Distortion and Overdrive Units
      1. “Analog” Distortion
      2. “Digital” Distortion
    3. Compression
    4. EQ
      1. Parametric EQ
      2. Shelf EQ
      3. Graphic EQ
    5. Delay
    6. Modulation Delay Effects
    7. Reverb
  13. 9. Creating Sounds
    1. Synthesizer Architecture: Initial Considerations
    2. Sonic Considerations
    3. Filter Configuration and Signal Routing Options
      1. Straight Series
      2. Straight Series with Feedback
      3. Filtered Feedback
      4. Parallel Filters
      5. Half Waveshaping
    4. CPU Considerations
    5. Design Philosophy
      1. Programming with a Purpose
      2. Arrangement of the Track
      3. Can’t I Just Go and Buy Something?
    6. Principles of Sound Design
      1. Main Food Groups
        1. Brightness
        2. Attack
      2. Getting the Combination Right
        1. To Get Brightness
        2. To Get Richness
        3. To Get Attack
        4. To Get Warmth
        5. To Get Punch
      3. Playability
    7. Building Blocks
    8. Building Sounds
      1. Noisy Synth
      2. Organ-Like
      3. Pseudo Echo
      4. Human Choir
      5. Rough and Ready FM
      6. Bass
      7. Synth Brass