View Full Version : Synthesis Tutorial
09-17-2007, 09:27 AM
I had to do this tutorial movie as an assessment piece. So to anyone who's interested, its a movie outlining the basic theory behind synthesis using the subtractor synthesizer in Reason as an example. I hope someone finds some use out of it :)
The tutorial movie is at youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqDYDjPGS7A).
09-17-2007, 11:20 AM
Brilliant mate! I highly recomend this for anyone who wants to learn anything about a synth (especially in Reason). Even though I knew the Subtractor was a powerful device, it was always the red-headed stepchild of the Reason devices. Not anymore!!
09-17-2007, 03:40 PM
Hey, just last night I said to myself, "Man, I need to figure out what all those friggin knobs on synthesizers do so I can learn to make my own sweet patches." I wake up this morning, check OCR, and here's just the perfect tutorial! Great job, it's very professionally done.
09-17-2007, 04:22 PM
Wow. That's seriously great. A lot of work went into this and you should put it on YouTube and get a mod to add it in the guide so we have another excuse to say Watch The Fine Video :D. A+!
Here's my constructive criticism (but take this as you will, since you have already finished the assignment);
I base this on the fact that a viewer is going to have little to no clue about what they're exactly watching; if that's not the case, ignore all below. Anyway, no clue doesn't mean they're going to be mouth-breathing stupid, but you, as a producer, are used to the terminology they're not familiar with and you make some leaps in thinking they can't. This would just work if you want to make it even more educational.
- add some hardware synthesizers with actual keyboards; a synth is a synth, and people unfamiliar with the matter may not see the connection between a softsynth and what it originated from.
- replace the drawings of a guitar and a keyboard with actual pictures. It's a lot more clear (and yes, there's the issue of copyright, but it can be a stock picture).
- when the guitar comes in the picture, mute the background music completely. Replace the voice over with the following "This is an electric guitar. If you play it, the sound will come out of the amplifier (cue short guitar solo). If you record this sound with a computer, you will see this (cue waveform drawing) - it's called a waveform."
This would immediately remove any questions about what a waveform is, how you get it, and it segues into the next part.
- when the synthesizer comes in: "A guitar has strings. A synthesizer uses computer code or an electric circuit to make sound" (show waveform, cue short typical synthesizer solo).
- when Subtractor is shown: "This is Subtractor, the synthesizer of Reason, a computer music program. It uses computer code to make the sound."
- "I'm through these sections in more detail. But first, let's have a look at the oscillator section". I'd simplify this further.
Start with a schematic, showing 3 blocks:
Then draw arrows: from oscillator to filter, from filter to amplifier. Then, show Subtractor and highlight the sections in the same order.
What follows then is what you have now - a great explanation. I'd skip phase and frequency modulation, though; it's too abstract (and the animation for the multiplier isn't correct ;) - I'd put that in a separate part of the video ("how to make sounds interesting" or something). Again, using my original assumption, people's eyes even glaze over if you use the word "modulation". For "noise", I'd add that it's useful to make percussion-like sounds.
For the filters, I'd suggest using real-world analogies. A lowpass filter can be demonstrated by the door in a disco: you only hear the bass thumping if the door (filter) is closed. A highpass filter can be demonstrated by walkman headphones - if you put 'm off, you only hear the tinny chatter of sound. Just use a regular pop song; since it's familiar to them, the viewer will have a better idea of what the effect is. Then say "you can do this too with a waveform."
Explain resonance as whistling: because that's exactly what it is ;) (and leave it on zero with the LP and HP).
LFO: good - but add a beat (and maybe 2 graphs showing the beat and LFO out of sync) - and demo the other waveforms!.
Envelope: I'd start with the attack. Show a group of violin players - they don't start playing at the same time, so the sound has an attack time.
Then, show release by someone hitting a gong; the sound doesn't stop immediately, so it has a release time.
Decay can be done by playing a piano note - either holding it for a longer time and then hitting it quickly for a short time.
This way, the viewer has something that they can relate to - a real-world instrument they know.
Sustain is the trickiest part, because it's a "level" value, not a time value. Your explanation is good, though :).
09-18-2007, 01:56 AM
Thanks for the great feedback guys :)
I could have simplified the explanation, but i was sorta pressed for time doing the voiceover so I was just making it up as i went along. :P
I usually direct people to other resources like Computer Music (http://www.computermusic.co.uk) and Future Music (http://futuremusicmag.com) Mags (I think theres a Synthesis Magazine, but we dont get it here). Also online resources like Wikipedia, Synthesizers.com and these great forums are stacked with information making it easy for someone to get further and more detailed explanations.
Edit:: I took your advice and upped it to youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqDYDjPGS7A)
09-21-2008, 12:40 AM
See, this is why spambots can be awesome: the ridiculous nonsense they spout.
That said, this video is still bitchin over a year later.
Hey, though you should know, your video is not on youtube no more. So, I imagine, re-upload it, or this tutorial is almost useless, except for the 2 links you provide.
Edit. My bad. Was just my internet. slow as fuck lately. O_O
01-01-2009, 10:51 PM
djredlight probably found out that OCR does not accept educational videos as remixes and so he (dramatically) removed it.
But seriously, the YouTube videos work for me...
03-01-2009, 09:54 PM
Thanks for making this video, it is very informative and helpful!
09-07-2010, 03:07 PM
really helpful, thank you =)
would you consider making one of these on the Malström? ;P
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