,...synth programming book advice???

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Cej
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,...synth programming book advice???

Post by Cej » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:03 pm

Hi

I'm new around here. :oops:

I have been playing around with some synths for just over a year now, (FM8, alchemy, sylenth and of course Live) and have been doing some serious reading (manuals back-to-front, tutorials and all that I can find on the net).

I have been researching some books I'd like to buy to strengthen my synths programming knowledge and gain a solid grounding (rather than just twiddling knobs and sliders).
I have found interest in 7 books but need to narrow it dowm (realistically, I can only really read 2 at a time).

It would be great to hear from anyone who has read or owns any (2) of these books and their opinions on how concise/helpful/practical they were or even still are.

1 - Composition for Computer Musicians - Micheal Hewitt
2 - Music Theory for Computer Musicians - Micheal Hewitt
3 - How To Make A Noise - Simon Cann
4 - Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard: From Presets to Power User - Simon Cann
5 - The Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys and Techniques - Rick Snowman
6 - Dance Music Manual, Second Edition: Tools. toys and techniques - Rick Snowman
7 - Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book - Fred Welsh

If I haven't included a must have in this list - please do tell.... :?

Thanks in advance,
Cej
Last edited by Cej on Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jonm10
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by jonm10 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:09 pm

Learn your synths front to back, that way you can apply the knowledge in the other books to each synth. Check sites like MacproVideo.com, Groove 3, among other and see if they have any step by step training for your synths
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swishniak
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by swishniak » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:14 pm

is there something in particular you are looking to learn?

if its just "good synth programming" i would suggest starting with some more basic software synths that emulate modular synths, or synths where you have to deal with signal flow and individual instances of envelopes / oscillators / LFOs / etc.

or hardware synths if you can get your hands on em of course.

i learned so much from my nord micro modular.

Tarekith
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by Tarekith » Fri Apr 02, 2010 3:50 pm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm

Start at the bottom, probably the best synth programming guides I've ever read.
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naph
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by naph » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:02 pm

regarding the books you have listed, i can tell you i won the first two and there isn't a single line which will teach you how to program synths.. even thought i found them unvaluable to teach a moron like me what music theory is all about :)

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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by nebulae » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:44 pm

Tarekith wrote:http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm

Start at the bottom, probably the best synth programming guides I've ever read.
Agreed, it really is good stuff, but it can get a bit technical and overwhelming too.

From a more simplistic approach, you might consider tutorials like Nick's Tutorials (nickstutorials.com) to just learn one synth, like Operator, and then take that knowledge to other synths. The SOS stuff is great, no doubt, but it's meant to give you the wide and deep approach. If you want to start narrow and then expand, consider the alternative approach. Both are good ways to start, just depends on how your brain works.
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KrisM
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by KrisM » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:54 pm

I own a copy of Dance Music Manual 2nd Ed. Lots of good stuff in there, pretty easy read. SoS articles are excellent, too.
I don't 'produce.' I write music.

strav100
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by strav100 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:16 pm

http://www.synthschool.com/

Great teacher with these classes - I learnt so much :P

Android Bishop
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by Android Bishop » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:56 pm

I second Nick's tutorials.

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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by mylkoa » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:58 am

Cej wrote:Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book - Fred Welsh
Hi Cej! So did you ever end up getting any particular book?

I own Fred Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook, and I have programmed about 15 or so of the patches, but I get stuck sometimes, because the patches are listed with values in the book that are different from the values in the synth that I'm using to recreate them. There is a VST synth that comes with the book, but it's Windows only, so I can't use it. Instead, I use Ableton's Analog to create the patches, and for the most part, it's very good for Fred Welsh's book, but there are challenges. For example, one patch in the cookbook might ask you to route an LFO to modulate the frequency of an oscillator by 11 cents, but in Analog, the modulation depth goes from zero to one, with zero being no modulation, and one being a modulation of 4800 cents. So you see, I can't type 11 into that parameter, cause it doesn't go that high, and even if I put in 0.11, that is likely much larger of a modulation than what the book asks for. But that actually doesn't make that much of a difference. If I can't get a value exactly, then I use my ears to get an approximate. So for that example, 11 cents is an extremely small vibrato, so I just modulate the oscillator frequency enough so that I can barely hear it.

Another thing about the cookbook is that some of the patch names are misleading. Many, if not most, of the "instruments" that are emulated in the patchbook sound nothing like the instrument they are named after (Didgeridoo, Banjo.... Not at all) - but again, I like synthetic sounds, so if I need an accurate didgeridoo sound, then I will use an audio sample.

The biggest problem I have found with the book is the parameter of "envelope %".... I don't know what it means, and it isn't talked about in the book, and there are no examples of it on the calibration CD. I tried writing Fred Welsh about it, but I haven't gotten a response. So far I have gotten by with just "guessing" what is intended, but there are some patches where I can't make heads or tails of it. With several patches, I have modified them my own way and made them sound better to me - the "cat" patch is one example I'm proud to say that I improved upon.

Anyways, after all is said and done, I would recommend the book. You will definitely get something out of it, but it may not be what you were expecting. I think teach-yourself-sound-design books have a long way to go. I have been trying to teach myself for a while now, and I can tell you that I'm taking notes to write a book of my own, because a lot of books are just plain sloppy. Many of these books are terribly confusing or vague. Nonetheless, I'm sure it's hard subject to write about, so I do give the author's respect. Fred Welsh's book is definitely one of the better ones I've come across.

PantsDown
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by PantsDown » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:14 am

Cej wrote: 1 - Composition for Computer Musicians - Micheal Hewitt
2 - Music Theory for Computer Musicians - Micheal Hewitt
3 - How To Make A Noise - Simon Cann
4 - Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard: From Presets to Power User - Simon Cann
5 - The Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys and Techniques - Rick Snowman
6 - Dance Music Manual, Second Edition: Tools. toys and techniques - Rick Snowman
7 - Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book - Fred Welsh
In answer to your question I have got and read 1,2 and 6. Whilst 1 and 2 are awesome (imo) books on music production they dont cover programming synths at all. The DMM (no 6) now has a 3rd edition out, although only on Kindle atm, this again is a brilliant book and does have some content on programming synths in general but its not JUST focusing on synths.

So if its just programming synths then I would give these 3 a miss. BUT the other content in them make them must haves for beginners in producing electronic music imo.

Hope that helps

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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by Sage » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:24 am

swishniak wrote:or hardware synths if you can get your hands on em of course.

i learned so much from my nord micro modular.
The manuals that come with hardware synths are generally fantastic.

Have been totally comfortable using a synthesizer since before I left school from just the manual for the Roland JP-8000.

Cej
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Re: synth programming book advice???

Post by Cej » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:02 pm

Wow! Thanks everyone for all the replies!!!....

What a blast from the past, I had forgotten about this post... :oops:
mylkoa wrote:Hi Cej! So did you ever end up getting any particular book?

I own Fred Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook, and I have programmed about 15 or so of the patches, but I get stuck sometimes, because the patches are listed with values in the book that are different from the values in the synth that I'm using to recreate them. There is a VST synth that comes with the book, but it's Windows only, so I can't use it. Instead, I use Ableton's Analog to create the patches, and for the most part, it's very good for Fred Welsh's book, but there are challenges. For example, one patch in the cookbook might ask you to route an LFO to modulate the frequency of an oscillator by 11 cents, but in Analog, the modulation depth goes from zero to one, with zero being no modulation, and one being a modulation of 4800 cents. So you see, I can't type 11 into that parameter, cause it doesn't go that high, and even if I put in 0.11, that is likely much larger of a modulation than what the book asks for. But that actually doesn't make that much of a difference. If I can't get a value exactly, then I use my ears to get an approximate. So for that example, 11 cents is an extremely small vibrato, so I just modulate the oscillator frequency enough so that I can barely hear it.
Hi mylkoa,
Yes, I have been reading a plethora of books and manuals on sound, synthesizers, psychoacoustics and really wrapping my head around the physics of sound.
The Moog Voyager manual is probably “the most” concise book I have ever read (in my whole life) that has helped me understand synthesis, I have read it well over 40, 50, 60 times in the past year...
I’ll do my best to share what I have learnt from the many resources I have read....
If I explain something you already know, just skip over it....

To route an LFO to modulate the frequency of an Oscillator by 11 cents, the synth you use needs to have ‘fine tune or detune’ (or something to that effect with a knob).
There are 100 cents in a semitone eg. C > C# > D > D# > E > F > F# etc... (1 octave = 1200 cents, duh!)

LFO’s modulate a ‘destination parameter’ with an inaudible waveform/frequency usually between 0.2Hz > 20Hz (or there abouts anyhow...)

If you want to take control of a preset/patch or design/program your own sounds finding an understanding of a synth’s signal flow/path/routing is going to be most useful .

I have not used Ableton’s Analogue synth a heap, but from just having a 10min play with it now I noticed that I couldn’t set the destination of the LFO to the detune, and I would be guessing to say it is hardwired/locked to modulate the filter (at least to my knowledge anyhow, maybe some one will tell us other wise...)

Here’s how you can do exactly what you explained from the Welsch's Synthesizer Cookbook...

> start a new project
> Use browser, and go to ‘Instruments’ and double click on ‘Analogue’ (not one of the presets), this will load Analogue into a MIDI track
> switch off the ‘Osc2’ and ‘Fil1’ by clicking the yellow on/off’s

....so now you only have Osc1 and Amp1 on....

> click on Analogue’s title bar
> control+g or command+g to group
> expand to show the macro’s controls of the Instrument Rack you just created
> click 'Map' on the Instrument Rack's title bar
> click Detune in Osc1 section of Analogue
> click ‘Map’ in Macro Control 1 of the Instrument Rack
...Where the browser was there is now the macro mappings...
> click on the ‘Max’ value and change it to 0.11 (Min should 0.00)
> click on the green map of the Instrument Rack

> Use browser, go to Max for Live > expand Max MIDI Effect and double click LFO MIDI
...This will place the LFO MIDI device to the left of the Instrument Rack...
> click on the LFO MIDI blue ‘Map’ (it’ll start flashing...)
> click on the macro you mapped to detune
...be sure to have the ‘Depth’ knob on the LFO MIDI set to 100%

Now play a note...

You will ‘ear (and see) the LFO modulate the detune 11 cents....

If you adjust the Hz/Rate knob on the LFO MIDI device you get a perfect example of what the LFO is actually doing (try 2Hz)...
(If you turn off the LFO device you ‘ear Analogue with 1 Oscillator and no modulation.... beuuuurrrrrrrrrr!!! 8O ... so turn it back on :wink: )

Hope this helps...


As for the patch names, yeah I know it's a crazy world, but from a positive point of view they don’t use babies to make baby food either :lol:

beats me
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Re: ,...synth programming book advice???

Post by beats me » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:07 pm

http://syntorial.com

Application that starts with one parameter, tests you by asking you to match and dial in a sound, and then adds another parameter and repeat.

mylkoa
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Re: synth programming book advice???

Post by mylkoa » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:08 pm

Cej wrote:I have not used Ableton’s Analogue synth a heap, but from just having a 10min play with it now I noticed that I couldn’t set the destination of the LFO to the detune, and I would be guessing to say it is hardwired/locked to modulate the filter (at least to my knowledge anyhow, maybe some one will tell us other wise...)
Hi Cej,

Thanks for spending the time with that explanation. I have been playing with Analog a lot the past few weeks, as I try to navigate my way through Fred Welsh's book, so I'm getting to know it fairly well. The LFO's aren't locked to anything. They are freely assignable and can modulate the following:

Oscillator section:
-Pitch (pitch mod)
-Pulse widths
Filter Section
-Filter cutoff (freq mod)
-Resonance amount (res mod)
Amplitude Section
-Pan modulation
-Level Modulation

Your method of assigning a rack nob to control the detune nob on the synth is very precise. Another method is just to simply activate the LFO, then open the oscillator section and type in a small value under "pitch mod". As I said before, the pitch value mods go from 0-1, with 0 being nothing, and 1 being a pitch modulation of four octaves. To get eleven cents, I would type in 0.05 or so. "0.05" is probably larger than 11 cents, but again, the idea here isn't just to be precise, but to find something that sounds good, and at that small value you will hear the vibrato just barely.

I was planning on writing a tutorial of how I went through Fred Welsh's book with Analog, but I'm stuck at the "Envelope %" thing I mentioned earlier. So far, I can't find any info on the net about it, and I have not received a reply from Fred Welsh. I tried dropping a message on his youtube channel. Hopefully he gets that. The email I sent to the address on his website didn't work, and I didn't get a response from the email address he published in the book.

In any case, thanks for the response! Fred Welsh's book has been good because it made me learn so much about Analog, and now I feel very comfortable with it. Since then, I have found some cool Analog presets created by other Live users and I have been reverse engineering them and learning a lot.

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