Music, Arts & Entertainment, Science & Tech

Introduction To Synthesized Sounds


Lesson time 15:59 min

Once you've got a chord structure and an arrangement, it's time to build the unique instrumental sounds that give your track its character. It all starts with learning the basics of synthesis.

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Topics include: We’re Here to Create Sounds No One’s Ever Heard • Synth Basics: Waveforms and Filters • Using Envelopes and LFOs to Modulate Sound • How to Build the deadmau5 Pluck • Your First Synth Can Teach You Everything


Well, the crucial thing to know about synthesizers to make music is just that you have to understand that they're all the same more or less. Learning synths in general is just a good way to get you closer to being able to, oh, I want a really humming bass drone in there. And you'll know that you need to load up a few saw waves or squares or something like that and then put a filter-- a low pass filter-- on it a bit and then play low notes and that kind of stuff. And maybe depending on how bright or dark you want the sound, you'll know that it's a lot to do with the filter coefficient. And because you'll know that, you'll know how to use any synth to get that kind of sound. I like hearing what synth they used and then hearing it and knowing in my mind how it was treated and processed to not sound like how it does when I just plug the thing directly in and monitor it and listen to it. More often than not, it's like, yeah, I know what song that was on. I know what song that was on. I know what song was that was on. My favorite was-- and God bless them, a talented bunch of guys-- it was The Prodigy with Firestarter. They were big fans of this synth that came out, and I of course, didn't know this at the time. But I had found a Korg Prophecy a long time ago, and it is a weird alien spaceship looking thing. It was at the time the holy grail of these new synth things, and a buddy of mine had one. So I go over to his place and check it out and I'm pressing some notes, changing some patches. And of course, there's this one patch that just sounds amazing. And it's like this cool 8-bit arpeggiation textural wash. And it was called FireStar, and it's the second preset on the Korg thing. And then of course, it's the opening of the track Firestarter by The Prodigy, and I thought that was the most hilarious thing in the world is they named the whole track after a preset, which they used in the first thing of the thing. And that was kind of cool. But of course, that gets abused a lot. Like guys will author these synths or program patches or plug-ins and stuff like that, and then, of course, these artists go and they grab them and they hit the one note and then there it is on the album. And then I think 80% of the population is saying, wow, that's the coolest sound I've ever heard. And then, it's always like, the 10% within the 10% of the producer population just rolling their eyes like, oh, gees. They didn't even do anything to it. The quickest way to learn synthesis in general is just downloading some cheap as free or free plug-ins and messing around with them. Let's see here, this is the second one here. So you're going to have, this is just a straight up saw wave there with the filter all the way open. And then you can additive, just me mixing in and out a squarewave with it. That's a square and then a sine wave, which is just a pure [? sinusoidal ?] wave form. And then, of...

About the Instructor

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.

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6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.

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