FM synthesis

KQ DIXIE FM Synthesizer For iOS

KQ Dixie is a 6-Operator FM synthesizer that is modeled on the Yamaha DX7.… Read More KQ DIXIE FM Synthesizer For iOS

The Story Of The Yamaha DX7 Presets

Dave Bristow and Gary Leuenberger programmed the original DX7 factory patches – a task that quadrupled in size, shortly before the keyboard went into production. … Read More The Story Of The Yamaha DX7 Presets

Hardware vs Software – Yamaha DX7 vs Arturia DX7 V vs DEXED VST

How well do software versions of digital instruments match the originals?… Read More Hardware vs Software – Yamaha DX7 vs Arturia DX7 V vs DEXED VST

Behind The Scenes With FM Player Developer Matthew Fecher

Fecher talks about sampling a classic ‘touched-by-Bowie’ Yamaha DX7II, and the process of making FM Player. … Read More Behind The Scenes With FM Player Developer Matthew Fecher

Free Online Patch Editor For Volca FM, Yamaha DX7, Synthmata

Synthmata is a free patch editor that runs within your Web browser (Chrome or Opera currently supported). … Read More Free Online Patch Editor For Volca FM, Yamaha DX7, Synthmata

What if you used synthesizers to emulate nature and reality?

Bored with making presets for instruments, one sound designer decides to make presets for ambient reality – and you can learn from the results.

“Scapes” is a multi-year, advanced journey into the idea that the synthesizer could sound like anything you imagine. Once you’ve grabbed this set of Ableton Live projects, you can bliss out to the weirdly natural results. Or you can tear apart the innards, finding everything from tricks on how to make cricket sounds synthetically to a veritable master class in using instruments like Ableton’s built-in FM synthesizer Operator. The results are Creative Commons-licensed (and of course, you can also grab individual presets).

The project is the brainchild of sound designer Francis Preve. Apart from his prolific writing career and Symplesound soundware line, Fran has put his sound design work all over presets for apps, software (including Ableton Live), and hardware.

As a result, no one knows better than Fran how much of the work of making presets focuses on particular, limited needs. And that’s too bad. The thing is, there’s no reason to be restricted to the stuff we normally get in synth presets. (You know the type: “lush, succulent pads” … “crisp leads…” “back-stabbing basslines…” “chocolate-y, creamy nougat horn sections…” “impetuous, slightly condescending 80s police drama keyboard stacks…” or, uh, whatever. Might have made some of those up.)

No, the promise of the synthesizer was supposed to be unlimited sonic possibilities.

If we tend to recreate what we’ve heard, that’s partly because we’re synthesizing something we’ve taken some care in hearing. So, why not go back to the richness and complexity of sound as we hear it in everyday life? Why not combine the active listening of a soundwalk or field recording with the craft of producing something using synthesis, in place of a recording?

Scapes does that, and the results are – striking. There’s not a single sample anywhere in the four ambient environments, which cover a rainy day in the city, a midsummer night, a brook echoing with bird song, and a more fanciful haunted house (with a classic movie origin). Instead, these are multitrack compositions, constructed with a bunch of instances of Operator and some internal effects. Download the Ableton Live project files, and you see a set of MIDI tracks and internal Live devices.

You might not be fooled into thinking the result sounds exactly like a field recording, but you would certainly let it pass for Foley in film. (I think that fits, actually – film uses constructed Foley partly because we expect in that context for the sounds to be constructed, more the way we imagine we hear than what literally passes into our ears.)

You wouldn’t think this was internal Ableton devices – not by a longshot – but of course it is.

And that’s where Scapes is doubly useful. Whether or not you want to create these particular sounds, every layer is a master class in sound design and synthesis. If you can understand a cricket, a bottle rocket, a rainstorm, and a car alarm, then you’re closer not only to emulating reality, but to being able to reconstruct the sounds you hear in your imagination and that you remember from life. That opens up new galaxies of potential to composers and musicians.

It might be just what electronic music needs: to think of sound creatively, rather than trying to regurgitate some instrumentation you’ve heard before. This might be the opposite of how you normally think of presets: here, presets can liberate you from repetitive thought.

I’ve seen this idea before – but just once before, that I can think of. Andy Farnell’s Designing Sound, which began life as a PDF that was floating around in draft form before it matured into a book at MIT Press, took on exactly this idea. Fran’s scapes are “tracks,” collaged compositions that turn into entire environments; Farnell looks only at the component sounds one by one.

Otherwise, the two have the same philosophy: understand the way you hear sound by starting from scratch and building up something that sounds natural. Scapes does it with Ableton Live projects you can easily walk through. Designing Sound demonstrates this on paper with patches in the free and open source environment Pure Data. As Richard Boulanger describes that book, “with hundreds of fully working sound models, this ‘living document’ helps students to learn with both their eyes and their ears, and to explore what they are learning on their own computer.”

But yes – create sounds by really listening, actively. (Pauline Oliveros might have been into this.)

Designing Sound | The MIT Press

Sound examples

A PDF introducing Pure Data (the free software you can use to pull this off)

But grabbing Scapes and a PDF or paper edition of Designing Sound together would give you a pairing you could play with more or less for the rest of your life.

Scapes is free (only Ableton Live required), and available now.

For background on how this came about: THE ORIGIN OF SCAPES [TL;DR EDIT]

The post What if you used synthesizers to emulate nature and reality? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

New FM Synth, NFM, For iPad

NFM is designed to be an intuitive FM synthesizer, with a streamlined interface. It works as an Audio Unit extension inside a host application, such as GarageBand, Cubasis, Auria Pro, modstep and AUM.… Read More New FM Synth, NFM, For iPad

FM4 Tutorial Hands-On Demo

FM4 is modeled on Yamaha DX synths of the 80s, but with a modern interface and free of some of the limitations of the original synths’ technology.… Read More FM4 Tutorial Hands-On Demo

Outer Space Sounds MOSTRO FM Synth (Sneak Preview)

The MOSTRO is a small FM synth, with 4-voice polyphony, LFO and sub-oscillator, delay and glide. … Read More Outer Space Sounds MOSTRO FM Synth (Sneak Preview)

Get original DX7 patches made by Brian Eno in 1987

You can’t get much more 80s synth power than this: Eno. DX7. Keyboard Magazine.

Yes, it seems there’s a magical synth site called Encyclotronic, full of patches and hardware specs and other goodies. And it seems that site has noted that back in 1987, Keyboard Magazine managed to extract some of his favorite patches for the Yamaha DX7 and shared them with readers.

Sadly, Keyboard lacks any kind of exhaustive archive. (Believe me, having edited a book from their archives, I know – thar be dragons.) And because this was a paper publication, Mr. Eno didn’t share everything. So somewhere, he’s got even more of these. KORG, you’ve got an instrument capable of loading them. Given that you did an OK Go edition of the volca sample, surely you could do an Eno volca FM?

Oh, yeah, also – Yamaha, maybe you’d consider doing something with the DX7 given you invented it?

In the meanwhile, this is a beautiful, free gift to all of us. Thanks for that! Now time to get FMing.


Brian Eno Yamaha DX7 Patches [info and download; download requires registration]

Via Electronic Beats

And to help you load them:

The post Get original DX7 patches made by Brian Eno in 1987 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.