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April 2, 2007 10:26 PM   Subscribe

How do you synthesize sharply percussive melodic sounds, as in this trentemoller track? I'm using AMS specifically, but a I'm really just looking for a general description of how this is done on a modular synth.
posted by phrontist to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
there are many ways to synthesize bell tones (additive, FM, subtractive osc sync + ring modulators, physical modeling, and so on). what you're hearing there is most likely simple FM synthesis, when you modulate the frequency of one osc with another. Google FM Synthesis for your choice of way too much info.

i'm not familiar with AMS (looks neat), but it's a modular synthesis package and should be fine for your needs.

i recommend exploring any of the modular synthesis tutorials available and learning how to do FM with subtractive synthesis, since you'll understand how FM carriers and modulators (which AMS probably has) will work.

James Clark's Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers (HTML) is an excellent place to start. It uses the Nord Modular as the synthesis platform but the techniques and theory are still relevant to AMS, Reaktor, MSP, etc.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 10:50 PM on April 2, 2007

You use the ADSR envelope, set to zero attack, which gives it a hard, percussive sound, with a short decay time, a longish sustain, and a longish release - the attack and the decay are th e inital percussive "spike" in the volume graph, and the sustain and release make the melodic, chiming, bell-ring portion.

Use a sine wave as the oscillator type, and fiddle with the filters to give it the quality of sound you're after.

With some soft synths, if you set the attack to zero, you can get a glitch, which it sounds like trentemoller has deliberately used in that track. If you run the sound through a "pumping" compressor as well, you can make that glitch really prominent and part of the track, though using a compressor on something so basic is really just using it as a dynamically triggered volume envelope, anyway, so you can probably get what you want out of the ADSR envelope alone.

One thing I like to do with that sort of sound is set the length of the decay to be a length which relates to the tempo of my track, say a 16th note, and keep the sustain/release portion not-entirely related to to the temp to stop it sounding too mechanical.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:55 PM on April 2, 2007

For a really nice visualization of that trentemoller track, check out magnetosphere by by Robert Hodgin.

Also, yeah, that song uses the glitch of fast-rising amplitude envelopes to really good effect. The bit of delay he puts on the sound turns the glitch into a rhythmic element.
posted by todbot at 12:05 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

jon has it right

sine wave oscillator, ADSR set to 0 attack, fast decay, mid-level sustain, and long release. add liberal amounts of reverb to complete the effect.

your synth may click with 0 attack if it uses volume ramping to avoid these types of clicks, but there are so many free softsynths that can do this it is not hard to find one that does.

with logic you can use the Compressor with a 0 attack to add a click to pretty much anything.
posted by cmicali at 5:00 AM on April 3, 2007

that's not a simple sine, but the compressor tips are great
posted by Señor Pantalones at 8:52 AM on April 3, 2007

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