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synthesising Marimba sounds


RudyS
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Can anyone help me to guide me into the right direction in making a "marimba" type of sound on a synthesizer.

 

So far I tried my Lead A1 with triangels. Tried to do an FM type of thing, but I could not get the "wood" or "hollowness" (is that a word?) of a marimba. I am now trying with my Micromonsta and use a wavetable as oscillator, but still can't get it to sound right...

Rudy

 

 

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Try breaking the sound down into two components and synthesize them separately - the tink attack and the resonant sustain.

 

The harmonics on the sustain part are odd, so use a triangle or square for that at the main pitch.

 

The attack should be pitched much higher, at an octave and a fifth maybe.

 

I have successfully used FM for this before, but the algorithm is important and I don't remember what I did.

Moe

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There are wave equations for sound fields that most serious Master of Science engineers in the field of acoustics (Physicists) aren't even going to try out for size, while Navier Stokes and Helmholz and others (Feynman) were around with their proper theories also a long time ago. These theories and all the possible insights and potential logical "solutions' for sound wave and perception related problems, and a big number of impossibilities like trying to invent the Perpetuum Mobile are way to difficult to master for most people.

 

Yet even a straightforward electronic organ, or a often used "piano sound" can lead to seemingly infinitely perpetuating discussions, with only a very partial convergence in the ideas of the partakers. Even the magical sampler with sufficient resolution to count as studio quality appears to have not won the prize of general usability for hobby and professional keyboardists, and isn't even a generally available hardware instrument design choice anymore, maybe because makign samples that work is pretty hard.

 

So my conclusion for know is: the basics and some interesting sound ranges, sure, can be understood by serious hobbyists that aren't technofobics and confirm the stereotypes that keyboard players are smart. But honestly, I think even people that know their way on good instruments and can make more than average good music with them aren't very aware of a lot of important sound design criteria, possibilities, live loud sound considerations, and sound ranges for real good instruments.

 

"
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Try breaking the sound down into two components and synthesize them separately - the tink attack and the resonant sustain.

 

The harmonics on the sustain part are odd, so use a triangle or square for that at the main pitch.

 

The attack should be pitched much higher, at an octave and a fifth maybe.

 

I have successfully used FM for this before, but the algorithm is important and I don't remember what I did.

 

Ah, this works a lot better. A separate attack layer was indeed a lot of the trick! Thanks!

Rudy

 

 

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There are wave equations for sound fields that most serious Master of Science engineers in the field of acoustics (Physicists) aren't even going to try out for size, while Navier Stokes and Helmholz and others (Feynman) were around with their proper theories also a long time ago. These theories and all the possible insights and potential logical "solutions' for sound wave and perception related problems, and a big number of impossibilities like trying to invent the Perpetuum Mobile are way to difficult to master for most people.

 

Yet even a straightforward electronic organ, or a often used "piano sound" can lead to seemingly infinitely perpetuating discussions, with only a very partial convergence in the ideas of the partakers. Even the magical sampler with sufficient resolution to count as studio quality appears to have not won the prize of general usability for hobby and professional keyboardists, and isn't even a generally available hardware instrument design choice anymore, maybe because makign samples that work is pretty hard.

 

So my conclusion for know is: the basics and some interesting sound ranges, sure, can be understood by serious hobbyists that aren't technofobics and confirm the stereotypes that keyboard players are smart. But honestly, I think even people that know their way on good instruments and can make more than average good music with them aren't very aware of a lot of important sound design criteria, possibilities, live loud sound considerations, and sound ranges for real good instruments.

 

Not all dutch people communicate like that!

 

(BTW, I DO have a master degree in physics, just not always bragging about it.. :wave:)

Rudy

 

 

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I fear we have lost MOI forever.

Nah, in the words of the former governor of Cali, "he'll be back". :laugh:

 

I've programmed a nice marimba sound on my Prophet 6. I'll have to look at the settings and report back. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Isn't Marimba just fundamental (sub fundamental?) with second harmonic and a boink attack?

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I'm a little late to the discussion, but I think I woulda started with a filtered square wave for the main sound, and a quick sine or triangle an octave up for the attack. Neat trick: speed up the main sound decay a smidgeon, move the attack pitch up another fifth, and now you have a xylophone.

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yamaha invented AWM for this. You guys that create all of these complex sound waves to emulate natural sounds from basic oscillators are true artists. My hats off. The rest of us have to by romplers.
The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Other than relying on samples, you can try this classic trick: Three oscillators with sine waves (optional triangle for the first one). Tune the first to the real note, second to the 12th, third to two octaves plus a major third. You might have to adjust the third oscillator's pitch to compensate for the fact that the major third is very sharp in equal temperament.

The idea is to give each oscillator a separate amplitude envelope. The main amplitude envelope for the lower osc (the fundamental), a shorter decay and release for the second osc, and even shorter ones for the third and highest. Of course, attack and sustain at zero for all envelopes.

A tad of FM can help the attacks, but it will soon become metallic, negating the "wood" effect.

 

If you *want* a metallic effect (glockenspiel/bell tree), try tuning the 2nd and 3rd oscillator to higher and more dissonant harmonics; I like octave + minor seventh for the second osc, and two octaves + augmented fourth for the third one. Add some FM to taste.

 

In any case, don't forget to give these sound a little bit of animation. You can do this by modulating the pitch of the main osc *very* slightly with a medium/slow LFO.

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I've had VERY convincing results using FM, and especially FM plus sampling, but I no longer own that gear (though I did keep most of my patch libraries just in case they are compatible with some future Virtual Instrument). I felt the SY77 came the closest.

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From what I've heard in Asian music videos where they did this in the 70's, I hear a Farfisa organ patch.

DX7, even more SY-77/99 is GREAT at these patches.

If you are doing it on an analog synth, I'd use a triangle wave for the sustain and a square two octaves above for the attack, medium short decay, short sustain, no attack, a little release. For filter, no attack, really short decay, little sustain, and some release.

Yamaha MX49, Casio SK1/WK-7600, Korg Minilogue, Alesis SR-16, Casio CT-X3000, FL Studio, many VSTs, percussion, woodwinds, strings, and sound effects.
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There are wave equations for sound fields that most serious Master of Science engineers in the field of acoustics (Physicists) aren't even going to try out for size, while Navier Stokes and Helmholz and others (Feynman) were around with their proper theories also a long time ago. These theories and all the possible insights and potential logical "solutions' for sound wave and perception related problems, and a big number of impossibilities like trying to invent the Perpetuum Mobile are way to difficult to master for most people.

 

Yet even a straightforward electronic organ, or a often used "piano sound" can lead to seemingly infinitely perpetuating discussions, with only a very partial convergence in the ideas of the partakers. Even the magical sampler with sufficient resolution to count as studio quality appears to have not won the prize of general usability for hobby and professional keyboardists, and isn't even a generally available hardware instrument design choice anymore, maybe because makign samples that work is pretty hard.

 

So my conclusion for know is: the basics and some interesting sound ranges, sure, can be understood by serious hobbyists that aren't technofobics and confirm the stereotypes that keyboard players are smart. But honestly, I think even people that know their way on good instruments and can make more than average good music with them aren't very aware of a lot of important sound design criteria, possibilities, live loud sound considerations, and sound ranges for real good instruments.

 

As long as you use a Lexicon reverb.

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You guys that create all of these complex sound waves to emulate natural sounds from basic oscillators are true artists.

Understanding basic synthesis is a great way to be able to hear the way sounds are made and create them. It's not too dificult but does require an investment of time.

If you are doing it on an analog synth, I'd use a triangle wave for the sustain and a square two octaves above for the attack, medium short decay, short sustain, no attack, a little release. For filter, no attack, really short decay, little sustain, and some release.

Bingo. :thu:

 

Marimba, vibes and other percussive instruments are relatively easy sounds to create using analog waveforms. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I fear we have lost MOI forever.

I'd have to agree. Misspelling an adverb of degree is usually the first sign.

 

~ vonnor

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Hardware: Kurzweil Forte7, Korg Kronos 2

Software: Cantabile 3, Halion Sonic 3 and assorted VST plug-ins.

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All I know is this is the most difficult family of sounds I've ever tried to nail. Straight up marimba is simple .... just use a Yamaha Rompler. It is those Marimba like attack synth tones that bust my balls.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

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So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Interesting, as I consider chromatic percussion to be the easiest sounds to synthesize fairly convincingly, compared to winds, strings, etc.

 

I studied acoustics at quite a young age though, so have the advantage of it being pretty intuitive for me to come up with the building blocks of different categories of sound.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

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+1 for FM. I'll have to experiment with my DX7, but I would think that any algorithm with 2 carriers and 1 modulator per carrier would suffice. Having 3 carriers with 1 modulator per carrier would give more flexibility, such as having the sustained tone, plus one or two attack tones. I'll have to sit down with mine and screw around with it.
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Just to annoy those who laugh at my "deep oscillator" concept, I'll note in passing that there are multiple posts in this thread that are precisely the sort of thing I've been talking about.

 

No, I haven't been attempting marimbas--as I said in the First Impressions thread, my goal is not to reproduce already existing instruments--it's easier to use samples--but Moe's point in the second post in the thread about breaking down the sound into components (tink vs. sustain) is one of the avenues that I've been exploring. Very rewarding approach.

 

I'm using subtractive synthesis to create additive synthesis building blocks. Some sounds are easier than others. However, the degree of subtlety that you can build into a sound when you throw enough oscillators (and filters, etc.) at it is...or can be...quite impressive.

 

Note, though, that the "wooden" sound isn't necessarily as tightly related to the fundamental of the note itself as you might imagine. For example, you can excite the fundamental resonance in a physical system (e.g. Helmholtz resonator [think Coke bottle partially filled with water]) with a slightly off-frequency energy source. It's just not as efficient so the resonance isn't as strong. This is the basic reason that they provide the ability to detune oscillators in synths. You're able to create more "natural" sounds. All well and fine. The problem in this case arises because you're talking about a block of wood, which does not have a pure sequence of harmonics, all in a nice, neat, mathematically perfect row. Some are a little sharp. Some are a little flat. The complexity is the ticket. It adds body (for want of a better term) to the sound. And to get that takes...you guessed it...a buncha oscillators.

 

I'll bow back out now, as I'm not really much help in modelling a marimba, per se and I've probably already said enough to annoy those who don't like my ideas.

 

Grey

I'm not interested in someone's ability to program. I'm interested in their ability to compose and play.

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Thank everybody for the great input. Love this place. I was able to create a fairly good sound using the trick of Marino on my Micromonsta. I added a very short attack sound of the mopho with is. Works great.

Sounds great, Rudy. Btw the Micromonsta only have two oscs, right? Did you use the Mopho for the role of the higher, shorter sound?

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I have Chromaphone and consider it a fun VI to play with now and then, but I don't consider its marimbas to be realistic at all. Then again, I have'y yet tried to program any custom patches for that VI.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Thank everybody for the great input. Love this place. I was able to create a fairly good sound using the trick of Marino on my Micromonsta. I added a very short attack sound of the mopho with is. Works great.

Sounds great, Rudy. Btw the Micromonsta only have two oscs, right? Did you use the Mopho for the role of the higher, shorter sound?

 

The micromonsta has 3 oscillators. 2 normal ones and a sub-oscillator. The sub oscillator is not a fixes waveform, but can be changed to al the basic waveforms (but not wave tables). So I used the suboscillator as the fundamental. Had to tune everything down anyway, because I could nog pitch the other oscillator to more than 2 octaves. I then indeed made a short envelope sound on the mopho, which I layered.

 

Have to be a bit creative in this setup, as I only have my mopho, nord lead A1 and micromonsta for this band. Very small setup, but of course it has its limitations.

 

Btw, this was not about really to make the most realistic marimba. I wanted to recreate a synth patch which had the same characteristics as a marimba and wanted to learn what that was. Learnt a lot from this!

Rudy

 

 

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