Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thinking Outside the Box With Synth Programming

If you've read this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I am a firm believer in thinking that effects can often be thought of as additional synth modules when used in creative ways.  Case in point - I am a couple weeks away from releasing a preset pack for Arturia's Oberheim SEM-V.  I've been a bit on the fence about previous Arturia software, but SEM-V is the real deal.  It is definitely one of my favorites these days.

As great as SEM-V is, the included effects kind of feel unworthy of how great the synth sounds.  Honestly, this is one area I think Arturia has consistently failed.  Many of their synths sounds fantastic, but the built-in effects kind of suck.  Well, they REALLY suck.  But that doesn't mean we can't find other uses for them!

The patch outlined in the picture above (click to enlarge it) is one of the sounds from the set I'm working on.  It's called "Koto from Mars".  Feel free to replicate it if you're an SEM-V owner.  Basically, you want to program, a short, plucked type sound.  I used oscillator sync to add some bite to the pluck.  This gives a decent enough synth sound that will probably sound somewhat familiar.  But what transforms this into a "koto", is some tricky programming of SEM-V's sort of crappy sounding chorus effect.

Once you've programmed your short, plucked, sound, turn on the Chorus effect.  Basically, what you want to do here is to set a relatively high Feedback setting with a relatively slow Rate.  This essentially turns the chorus into a primitive resonator which can be used for very basic physical modeling.  In this case, the chorus effect is helping to simulate the resonant body of a koto.  To demonstrate, here is a clip of what the final patch should sound like...

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