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Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
#3047427 06/04/20 05:45 PM
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How's that for a click bait thread title?

No, the answer isn't "because I'm nostalgic for the 80s." I've been playing around with stripping sounds down to the sine wave-based elements, and running the output through distortion. It's like a combination of "guitar strings" as the oscillators, but with added synthesis options. The distortion ends up sounding very focused...fun stuff.

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Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047467 06/04/20 08:33 PM
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So what exactly are you doing? Are you analyzing an interesting sound with a scope, and then recreating that with additive synthesis picking up the main harmonics?

I'm thinking of Fourier and his discovery that all sounds can be analyzed down to be comprised of so many separate sine waves at certain frequencies.

Or maybe you are running sounds through multiple filters to clear out the "noise" (i.e. the complex harmonics that make sounds like a sawtooth or a bell or a voice, etc.) and running the "cleaner" version of the sound through distortion to pump better "noise" back in?

Maybe you've invented clean noise!

The curious want to know!

nat

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047475 06/04/20 08:59 PM
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Nothing as exciting as that!!! Just avoiding modulation, using pure sine waves, and putting them through amp sims.

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047483 06/04/20 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Nothing as exciting as that!!! Just avoiding modulation, using pure sine waves, and putting them through amp sims.

I run VST synths through GuitarRig a lot. I get these great hybrid sorts of sounds that are reminiscent of guitars, but different enough to be rather mysterious. Since GR compresses a lot and turns things to mono, I run the FX as parallel to a copy of the original signal with no FX and mix the two to taste. I usually turn off the cab sim part and just use the amp head sim and virtual pedals/rack gear.

Your idea reminds me of why Teles take to pedals so well - Teles always have seemed to me to have the purest clean tones for an electric (at least within my limited experience.) The pedals don't have to compete with the guitar string tone as much.

nat

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047665 06/05/20 08:49 PM
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Unfortunately Craig, unlike my work with subtractive synthesis and sampling , I have never sat down and programed a 6 operator synth.....but I have lots of boxes with the sounds ready to use !!

Dan

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047672 06/05/20 08:59 PM
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FM programming is like a box of chocolates. There's no way to predict what you will get.

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047739 06/06/20 05:30 AM
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Overall that's true, but it also depends how much time you've spent with them. After a while you get a feel for what happens when you feed various operators into each other. Larry Fast (Synergy, Peter Gabriel, Foreigner) made quite a bit of money in studio sessions back in the day because when the artists said about an FM synth "I want the sound more [fill in the blank]," he knew what to do to make it happen. I used to be able to do that to a limited degree, but am only starting to get my chops back 35 years later smile

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
The Real MC #3047785 06/06/20 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
FM programming is like a box of chocolates. There's no way to predict what you will get.

For sound explorers with no planned agenda that's a very desirable trait. But as Craig indicated even with FM synthesis you can end up gravitating toward the tired (sic) and true approach. Having the patience to break through that is what creates those Holy Shit sounds. And I mean that as a good thing.

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047868 06/07/20 12:59 AM
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Oh, nothing as unsane as that. I've taken up DEXED, in part because I like to sit and flip through patch libraries the same way others play solitaire. I know the joys of pure sine waves being used in places that benefit from them. I'll also become an operator jockey on the 39th of No Thanks. Its a lot like modular synthesis. It can become a case of diminishing returns in no time. I'm too keyboard-y to delve into mad sound events past a certain point. Its just an IMO thing.

So my quarantine is including the review of several thousand FM patches. I tag the best keepers, which I can modify Just So as layering items. There are always a few fine solo patches you want to massage with real-time playing, but after discarding the quintillion EPs, basses & the Taco Bell bell, there are a few gems from the remaining Best Of list I'd like to tweak.

I took up Pigments for the PD, wavefolding & granular functions, which I didn't have elsewhere. DEXED is the same: its a specific item that doesn't duplicate my existing tools. I won't discover its depths; I'm too old for that and not OCD enough. What I will get is another shade of e-paint and something useful to do while I leave the Weather Channel on Mute & don't gag on more "breaking news." smirk


Irving Gertz: Idol Of My Youth/ Soundtrack composer for "It Came From Outer Space,"
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Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047870 06/07/20 01:09 AM
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Craig - You wrote the manual on NI's FM7, correct? I gather you're no slouch when it comes to FM programming. smile

That's still a great synth. I use FM8 now (to avoid having to bridge a 32bit plugin), but I like the GUI on the original '7 much better.

In addition to FM8 I have Arturia's DX7-V. It sounds very close to the original and I'm sure it's a capable synth, but it's extremely hungry on the CPU. I don't use it much (partially because it's a reminder of how dated some of those DX sounds are).

One day I would still like to pick up an SY77 or SY99. They came out at a time that they couldn't shine but they are very capable instruments.


Sundown

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Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; Fishing in Kingsbury
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Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Sundown #3047887 06/07/20 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Sundown
Craig - You wrote the manual on NI's FM7, correct?

You pass the "I have a long memory" test smile

Quote
That's still a great synth. I use FM8 now (to avoid having to bridge a 32bit plugin), but I like the GUI on the original '7 much better.

Same here, actually.

Quote
One day I would still like to pick up an SY77 or SY99. They came out at a time that they couldn't shine but they are very capable instruments.

Now would be the time to pick up a TX802 for cheap. Just sayin' smile

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047922 06/07/20 05:40 PM
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I had an FS1R for a long time. A fascinating FM synth.

I also snagged an app off the web that would translate any audio file into an FS1R FM patch. No, it wasn't a perfect match, audio to synth, but that wasn't the point. The FS1R was designed to make sounds that morph, like a speaking voice. Has formant wave/operators that you can sequence within the synth. It really can "talk". But it is a beast to program. You need good editing software to get anywhere before Christmas 3000.

Comparing FM8 to the FS1R, I always thought the FS1R had an edge sound-wise. Not that FM8 isn't totally great as is. But the FS1R is an sleeper of a super-classic. The FX, the formant sequencing, the presets, the pure sound, all primo.

nat

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047950 06/08/20 12:27 AM
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I like the FM sounds here


Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3047979 06/08/20 10:59 AM
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Pardon my musical ignorance, but what do you do with sounds like that? Is this what people call "ambient" music? 4 minutes of swirling and changing tones with a title? Or in reality, you create a one bar or two beat sweep and drop it in to the accompaniment of a song or tune?

I think it's interesting way to create sound, and I've heard lots of (what I think of as) music played on a DX-7 using one or more sounds created with FM synthesis, so I'm not arguing against a synthesis method, I'm just wondering about the practical application.

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Mike Rivers #3047987 06/08/20 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Pardon my musical ignorance, but what do you do with sounds like that? Is this what people call "ambient" music? 4 minutes of swirling and changing tones with a title? Or in reality, you create a one bar or two beat sweep and drop it in to the accompaniment of a song or tune?

I think it's interesting way to create sound, and I've heard lots of (what I think of as) music played on a DX-7 using one or more sounds created with FM synthesis, so I'm not arguing against a synthesis method, I'm just wondering about the practical application.

Ah you must reacting to what I posted. The "Gratitude" piece seems to have been inspired by Brian Eno's Apollo album. Eno coined the term "ambient music". I believe this piece is all DX7. I admit these sounds may not always be substituted for a more static DX7 pad patch but I do like a little life at least in a pad patch.



Eno admitted that there other artists exploring music in a similar manner in his time and before, but he felt this approach deserved a name. Erik Satie's "furniture music" is believed by some to be an early form of ambient music. I am a fan of Eliane Radigue's work with the ARP 2500 modular on "Trilogie de la Mort", recorded in the early 70s.

Yes, it's not uncommon to sample a few seconds of ambient music and drop it into a pop-friendly arrangement. If you already have a synth with a patch like this already loaded, you could of course skip the sampling part and just record it being manually played

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 06/08/20 02:17 PM.
Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Mike Rivers #3048080 06/09/20 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Pardon my musical ignorance, but what do you do with sounds like that? Is this what people call "ambient" music? 4 minutes of swirling and changing tones with a title? Or in reality, you create a one bar or two beat sweep and drop it in to the accompaniment of a song or tune?

I think it's interesting way to create sound, and I've heard lots of (what I think of as) music played on a DX-7 using one or more sounds created with FM synthesis, so I'm not arguing against a synthesis method, I'm just wondering about the practical application.


Heh, I understand. The DX7 is said to be bad for string patches, for example, but no, if layered & effected, it brings the goods. They're not "as good as" real or sampled strings, but they deliver well if you place them properly.

FM, phase distortion & additive are cousins. It depends on how much work you want to do for the job at hand. PD is a simpler option for a bell if you don't feel the need to FM your way there.

In exploring DEXED, its clear where it excels. I'm tallying presets because I like very crisp or simple sounds (bells, sine waves) for giving larger, analog-y sounds added clarity. Just a dab of it can bring it all home. There are some great vocal stars that add balls to a Mellotron.


Also, IIRC, wasn't it Russ Ferrante from The Yellowjackets who once did a live DX7 solo that sheared off people's top hairs? It offers keys that have claws. It has a narrow range in one sense, but where its strong, its massive.

You can turn almost any synth to "Ambient" if you slow things down & add reverb. Its a natural strength not fully shared with acoustic options. Its (generally) a relaxed form of e-music known for pads & evolving Stuff. Eno is one angle, The Orb is another & Steve Roach another. Many of us creating ambient things so we get a little home-made relief is another. That'd be me.


Irving Gertz: Idol Of My Youth/ Soundtrack composer for "It Came From Outer Space,"
"Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy" & "The Creature Walks Among Us," 1915-2008

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Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3048182 06/09/20 06:01 PM
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One of my favorite aspects of FM is that you can layer it with samples or analog and really multiply the possibilities.

My theory is that FM synthesis took off because at the time, analog recording was still a big deal, and the bright sound offset the lack of brightness in analog. When digital became big, then analog came back because the lack of brightness offset digital's bright sound.

A generalization, I know, but still...

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3048208 06/09/20 08:26 PM
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Digital FM also allowed a single synth to produce a much larger variety of sounds than the great bulk of analog synths of the day. Digital FM is so precise - basically using math to create sounds.

That clean, pure sound of digital FM when it came in, it was a very fresh sound. If you had been dinking around on a Roland Juno 60 and pretty much know all it could do, then you encountered a DX-7, the DX-7 was just capable of so much more variety, and sounded so new and space-agey, it was no contest (at least back on those days.)

Sticking little, pathetic FM synths into early PCs throughout the 80s and 90s went a long way towards biasing everyone against FM. Also the overuse of certain notorious DX-7 patches (and I'm looking at you Mr. Collins) also had a souring effect.

So back to analog - and, wow, all that depth and richness! Time to stick the DX-7 in the closet...

What great times it is now - there's fantastic analog (cheap!) and fantastic digital of all sorts, including FM (also cheap!).

nat

Re: Getting More and More Into FM Synthesis Because...
Anderton #3048250 06/10/20 01:03 AM
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FM made a comeback as people realized that you can get livelier, more responsive tones than what sample playback devices can give you.

Out of all the new FM synths announced within the past 12 months, I'm guessing this is the one MusicPlayer folks (the ones who know how to hook up a MIDI keyboard controller) will relate to the most - Digitone is too much of a groovebox, MegaFM is too video-gamey sounding, etc. 300-voice polyphony doesn't hurt either.



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