Subtractive Synthesis

Subtractive Synthesis

There are a few common ways to generate the sounds that get manipulated, modified, and are eventually sent out of your synthesizer.  In this lesson we’re going to talk about subtractive synthesis.  This is the type of synthesis primarily used by old-school analog synths. The basic idea of subtractive synthesis is to start with a […]

Additive Synthesis

Additive Synthesis

Additive synthesis is based on the theory that any sound can be made by combining a series of sine waves at various frequencies (see the lesson on harmonics for more details).  Start adding waves together and you get new, harmonically-rich waveforms.  Essentially you’re deciding at which frequencies you want your harmonics and adding them yourself. […]

FM Synthesis

FM Synthesis

Frequency-Modulation Synthesis, or FM Synthesis for short, works differently than what we’ve talked about so far.  It uses one wave to rapidly increase or decrease (modulate) the frequency of another, which creates entirely new frequencies that aren’t part of the first two. Don’t worry if that’s not very intuitive; I’m going to break it down […]

Wavetable Synthesis

Wavetable Synthesis

Most of the synthesis methods we’ve talked about so far produce periodic waves, meaning at some point the repeat.  Simple waves may go up, then down, then back up again.  More complex waves might go up and down a few times, but somewhere there is a repeating pattern. Wavetable synthesis takes advantage of this fact […]

Sampling

Sampling

A sampler doesn’t synthesize sounds so much as it plays back sounds that were recorded from somewhere.  The recordings are stored digitally in memory, so they can be triggered instantly when you hit a key on your synth.  They can also be sped up and slowed down to achieve different pitches.  Sampled waves can be […]