Music & Entertainment

Introduction To Synthesized Sounds


Lesson time 11:51 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.

Teaches Electronic Music Production
6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.
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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...

Make better music

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.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It was helpful to get Joel's insights about his way to work on his music, music business, shows and all that stuff

it helped me improve on my production and understand how to actually mix and master in ableton

I would never have known about MASTERCLASS if it weren't for DEADMAU5

I leaned a lot from Masterclass. Aside from the new things I learned, I also reaffirmed a lot of things I had learned from other places. Something about hearing those things from someone so accomplished really gives me more confidence in what I know. Thanx!



I‘m pretty disappointed of this class. It’s cool to see how he approaches composing, but most of the videos are him explaining the basics of a synth, which I think is not worth the money.

kay L.

this is an awesome Class and thanks for Dead5 to have the time to share his knowledge with us. Nobody is perfect and for whom are trying to find all the errors in the Videos, I will say: First, Try to be a Superstar DJ and Producer, try to get a better ranking as Dead5 and then you can criticize someone. Another Thing: Not all Superstar DJs and Producers will open their Studio and share their Knowledge with others.


I thought this was fu%kin awesome. There is one negative comment on here about his 'teaching ability' ... dude, the guys a superstar producer! Not a teacher and thank goodness. If 'you' have the ability and the drive to benefit from watching a master at his game you would have benefitted from this whether he said, additive when he meant subtractive or whatever. I for one have just learnt a ton from this vid and can see already how I am gonna apply his principles to my game. Amazing teacher!


This lesson skims the surface on the deep waters of synth sound development...and that's a good thing! Some producers are genius at creating music (melodies, song structure, hooks, etc.). Their creative process often grinds to a halt when attempting to create new synth sounds or they choose pedestrian sounding presets and simply move on...and there's nothing wrong with that! If it sounds good, use it. Like he says in this chapter, "...less than 10% of 10% of producers will recognize a preset sound." Although Joel recommends using software like Cthulhu to create new sounds from scratch, it's important to take away that his opinion is to "create sounds nobody has ever heard". This can be accomplished by dropping in a preset sound and tweaking it thousands of different ways (i.e. waveforms, effects, arpeggiator, etc.).


Not so much... Obviously, Mr Mau5 is a successful creator but --at least thus far-- he hasn't really demonstrated a knack for teaching. He speaks too fast, and many of the thoughts are disjointed, or they trail off into nothingness. There were several errors (such as when he called subtractive synthesis "additive" instead). So far, I'd say he hasn't shown the patience to teach; it's evident he learned through trial and error and therefore lacks the breadth of knowledge many would prefer in a teacher. In short, he seems anxious to burn through these lessons so he can get back to making music. Next "lesson," coming up...

J. Z.

It's such a great sight to see how your signature sound come to life! It looks like there are generally a lot of "messing around"(Try and Error) for synthesizers. After all, there is not a definite guide for creating sounds. Mesh those frequencies around, then you will eventually get something :S

David G.

If anyone wants more in-depth help with synth tutorials, by far the best I found was Syntorial. It's a program that progresses step by step through each synth parameter and really helps you dig in and understand it, then checks your understanding by grading sounds you've built. Also the developer posts weekly tutorials on how to build patches from familiar songs (he actually has a tutorial on deadmau5's Phantoms Can't Hang). Highly recommend! It helped me a TON! BTW I am not affiliated with Syntorial. Just passing on helps.

James S.

I have a moog mother 32 and a korg microkorg. What would be the best synth to start my journey on learning the basics?

David G.

Any idea how he gets Ableton to feed a signal to Serum? I'm having a hard time getting my synth (HELM) to accept a signal from my DAW (Mixcraft Pro 8).

Christopher W.

This course is so perfect if you are using Ableton + Serum + Cthulhu xD. If I can think up any resources that are helping me utilize this setup I'll try n link em to everyone :)