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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

need a synth Yoda

KenMacD

I'm a keyboardist, and I presently use a Korg Triton Extreme 76 key and a Yamaha SO8 88 key (and a Korg X-50 for quick, mobile practicing), but I am lost in the technology beyond the presets. Luckily for me I play in a classic rock band, so I can often get away with piano, organ and strings, but we've thrown in some Journey, Rush, and a few songs with tricky synth sounds, and I'm clueless as to how to analyze the sounds and replicate them. I'd also like to learn how to do sampling, sequencing, multi-track digital recording using my computer and everything else this technology has to offer.
My problem is, while there are an abundance of instructors for every instrument known to man in music schools, on craigslist, on supermarket bulletin boards - you name it - I can't find anyone who is willing and able to instruct on synthesizer use. I know, I know, I can spend endless hours muddling through the manuals and figuring things out through trial and error, but with a day job, running my two kids around for sports and other activities and playing with the band 2-3 nights a week I'd prefer a more efficient approach that will: a) get me the sounds I need for our current setlist ASAP to help our performances, and b) zero in on my specific objectives with the other functions.
Any advice?
October 7, 2009 @05:17am
Joe Muscara

Sorry, I can't be of specific help, but there are often presets that are designed and named based on classic songs, for exactly the reasons you name.
Also, it's not an exact science. Get a sound that's close enough and most people will be happy.
Good luck and have fun!
October 7, 2009 @02:49pm
bobbymars

kenmacD Hi another keyboardist here . . I agree with joe , grab a sound and have fun . . you mustn't let technology get you down . . think of the synth as an instrument capable of variation in timbre . . like a human voice . . we can coax our voice to sound many ways . . but one must be a little adventerous . You must delve in beneath the surface . Your synths allow for relatively easy edits but to familiarize yourself with these functions you have to scroll through the numbers at least . . each synth has attack values . . find that particular page and scroll higher and lower on the value and you will notice major change in how the keyboard responds . . do the same with other parameters such as harmonics or velocity settings and just investigate what the different possibilities are . . they are indeed finite and one quickly becomes aware of which things do what . . its a hands on thing just dive right in head first . . . there are memory protect functions so don't worry about ruining your presets as one usually has to disable the memory protect in order to save a new preset . . . bobby
October 8, 2009 @12:24pm
DAS

A big part of understanding synthesizers (subtractive ones at least) is grasping filters and envelopes. Learn all you can about filters in general as well as the specific implementation of the filters in your synth.
You mentioned Rush. Learn to make the Tom Sawyer sound. That's a good, basic exercise in filter and envelope programming. (I would also add that it's useful to learn the characteristics of the basic waveform sounds (sine, square, sawtooth), but with many modern synths you don't have to get that fundamental about it.)
http://www.sweetwater.com/insync/word.php?find=Envelope
http://www.sweetwater.com/insync/word.php?find=Filter
The next building block is learning how to combine and layer sounds together for more complex timbres.
There are bound to be some good books on the subject, but I cannot think of any off hand.
October 8, 2009 @01:06pm
Joe Muscara

Another thing to check is back issues of Keyboard mag. They have been running a column about "how to get that sound" for a while now. They've covered a lot of 80s synth sounds. You may be able to find the articles online at their web site.
October 9, 2009 @04:36pm
KenMacD

Thanks for that advice, Joe. I'll give it a shot.
October 9, 2009 @09:27pm
Atlas5

Based on you live style, I'd recommend more presets.
Review what you have on hand, compare to various sounds you want.
Tweek sounds you already have into what your listening for.
Purchase sounds. Search the web for free patches by others (KorgForum)
Search the web for specific forums dedicated to your make & model keyboard. ( Youtube has a video on just about every synth and sound out there.)
Read your manuals. Have your kids program you synth's.
But, I think your right, there are few to none of synth programming instructors out there. Sounds like an opportunity for some.
Good luck and the force is with you.
October 12, 2009 @02:11pm
Synthologist

But, I think your right, there are few to none of synth programming instructors out there. Sounds like an opportunity for some.

I'll take the job--been programming synths for over 20 years.
October 12, 2009 @09:22pm
Atlas5

I'll take the job--been programming synths for over 20 years.

Run an ad in your local rag. Here is to you! What city are you in?
I am in Oakland CA, there are various education new prints , flea market papers and music rags, I've never seen any one offer synth training or even expertise. The only place I seen training is at local college course usually inter mixed with other things like recording/audio technology.
I use to do lots of sound programming twenty years ago, these days I am a preset man.
I think I am going to buy a modular next year when money becomes available. I very interested in doepfer.
October 13, 2009 @03:55am
Synthologist

Run an ad in your local rag. Here is to you! What city are you in?

Unfortunately, I live in Lancaster County, PA.... farm country. Not too many synth players around here. I went looking for work at a local music store that sells pro gear and gives lessons awhile back though.
Sadly, they don't sell many synths--the majority of their lessons are for basic guitar, piano and band instruments.
:(
October 13, 2009 @01:40pm
KenMacD

Synthologist: I live in southern NJ, about 2 1/2 hours from Lancaster, but if you were a bit closer I'd take you up on it. Coincidentally, I bought my Korg X50 on ebay from someone in Lancaster. and saved shipping by arranging to meet with him off a turnpike exit on the way to a business trip to Hershey.
On the synth education side, I just ordered a tutorial DVD on the Triton Extreme from a company called "Pro Audio Academy". Is anyone familiar with that company?
October 15, 2009 @01:23am