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In this 4-hour course, Phil Mantione dives deep into the what, why and how of various methods and types of synthesis so you can effortlessly get the sounds out of your head and into your song. From essential basics to advanced creative concepts, you’ll not only learn the technical theory, but creative practical applications you can immediately apply to your own music.

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Stefan Prins’s “Generation Kill” was an explosive synthesis of live and electronic sound.

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Almost every commercially available synthesizer and music synthesis software package operates using these basic principles. With this knowledge and some ingenuity, you'll never have to use a horrible synth preset again.

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Another type of module frequently used to control other modules is the , or . An LFO is just like a normal oscillator, it can have any waveform and amplitude we specify, but it has a very low, sub-audio frequency, producing a very slowly oscillating signal generally used to control other modules within a synthesizer. For example, an LFO might move the volume level of a VCA up and down, creating a tremolo effect. LFOs are like little robots that turn knobs back and forth for you.

Sound synthesis and sampling

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The philosophy behind granular synthesis is that sound can be broken down into very small fragments and combined together to create varying timbres and thus highly complex harmonically structured waveforms. These types of synthesizers take up even more processing power than sample-based synthesizers due to the micro sound-scale on which they operate.

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This method is meant to emulate real instruments by recalling actual samples of those instruments upon striking the keyboard. These types of synthesizers can take up a lot of processing power due to the storage and instant recall of samples.

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There are some problems with our synthesizer design—not the least of which is that because we have no way of controlling the volume of the oscillator, our instrument is always making sound! In order to fix this problem, we need to add a module called a Voltage Controlled Amplifier, or VCA. The function of a VCA is to raise or lower the volume, often called or , of a signal. Essentially, a VCA is a volume knob. Oscillators and other sound generating modules are always making sound, and VCAs are what keep the level down when you're not playing.

Analog Synthesis: The Newbie Guide to Synthesizers and Sound Design by Reinhard Schmitz

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is trying to achieve the same result as Subtractive Synthesis, but approaches the method from a constructive philosophy, rather than carving. Rather than presenting a wall of harmonics and carving out the harmonic structure desired (Subtractive Synthesis), in additive synthesis multiple sine waves of varying levels and are combined together to build the harmonic structure desired. Simply put, instead of starting with everything you need and throwing away what you don’t need, you start with nothing and build harmonic structures from scratch.

Sound Synthesis and Sampling by Martin Russ

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Part two of the book includes six projects that show the reader how to build arpeggiators, imitate an analog synthesizer, and create flowing soundscapes using granular synthesis.

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In the modern computer-era, all of these forms of synthesis are present in countless programs. Many of these synthesis methods are combined or layered within single programs to accommodate the creation of unique synthesizers. In understanding these methods, experimenting, and combining them, you become the creative force behind sound-synthesis!