Odds and Ends

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Greetings Synth Seekers! For those of you keeping track, there wasn’t a post last month. The plan right now is for Synth You Asked to occur at the end of each month alongside the other regular Lindby content, but due to some big items we have in the works, we decided it would be best to push it to the beginning of October. And as far as those big items go, keep an eye out both in November and December!

For today’s post, my original intent was to go into the powerful world of Modulation Busses. This is really where some of the most interesting and complex sonic sculpting can occur.

However, upon reviewing the plethora of options that come from this section of the Minimoog Voyager, I realized there were a few quite vital odds and ends that didn’t fit into any of the previous blogs.

So, for the sake of being fully prepared for the wild world of Modulation Busses, I wanted to dedicate today to covering those handful of topics.

Right off the bat, I realized I skimmed over a very unique part of the oscillators. In addition to the main three oscillators, there is a fourth option called Noise. While the other three oscillators use specific combinations of harmonics to produce different waveforms and specific pitches, the Noise oscillator is every harmonic at once. It’s essentially sonic chaos/white noise. It has great use in sound effects such as waves, wind, etc. and is also used to help create percussion sounds.

Noise also plays a significant role as the source for a special circuit called Sample and Hold (which will now be called S&H). S&H is a special source that uses the complete chaos of the Noise oscillator to essentially generate a random pattern. When you hear a synth part in a song where the pitches are jumping all over the place in a seemingly random way, odds are that that synth is using an S&H circuit to make the random nature occur.

Additionally, the rate of change in the S&H circuit is dependent on the rate of the LFO. The S&H “samples” a piece of the Noise oscillator to generate a random pitch and then “holds” said pitch until the LFO has a new oscillation. Both of these factors (the noise being the source and the LFO being the rate of change) can be replaced with new sources, but we’ll cover that a little later. Those Modulation Busses are still calling out, and we need to get to them ASAP!

As we work our way down from the LFO section of the Voyager, we come to two knobs, then two switches, and finally two wheels.

Those two knobs are Fine Tune and Glide Rate. Fine Tune literally tunes the overall pitch of the Moog. It’s also truly the only way to adjust the pitch of Oscillator 1. Given that the Moog is generating voltage via circuit boards to create pitches, the instrument itself is subject to changes in temperature. Basically, the Moog has to warm up, and then you actually have to tune it. It’s the price you pay for analog goodness! Additionally, the guts of the Moog can be subject to ridiculous precise tuning, but instead of going into that here, I recommend checking out this post:

Advanced Moog Tuning Guide

This was shared by someone who talked to an employee at Moog. It’s slightly more in depth, but if you ever own a Voyager, it’s far better to take an hour to do this as opposed to shipping your entire Moog back to the factory to get retuned.

The Glide Rate knob ties into the Glide Switch. These two items work hand in hand to allow a glissando (think when a trombonist slowly slides their slide or when a string player slowly moves up or down a string). The switch turns this feature on and off, and the knob controls how fast or slow the effect is. A stronger setting means a more pronounced glide which means it’ll take longer to slide from one note to another. Given the digital brain of these modern Voyagers means there are more advanced settings, but we’ll save that for when we get to the digital aspects of the instrument. The main focus right now is on the purely analog elements.

The other switch is the Release Switch. Release is the final piece of the roadmap when dealing with envelopes (you can read about envelopes and Release here). Since Release isn’t always desired, this switch gives you the option to immediately turn it on and off without adjusting the Release knobs over in the Envelope section of the Voyager.

The two wheels are the Pitch Wheel and the Mod Wheel (short for Modulation). Many, many keyboards today have both these wheels. The pitch wheel allows you to “bend” the pitch up or down by a certain amount (like how a guitarist bends their strings to raise the pitch). Once again, the digital hybrid nature of the Moog allows this range of bending to range from quite small to quite large, but that will be covered later on.

The Mod Wheel is the primary controller for one half of the Modulation Busses. It can do a whole lot more than that, but we’ll dive deep into the Mod Wheel next time.

The last item to discuss today if the Touch Screen. We won’t go into every possible item it can be used for, but since it can play a vital role in the Modulation Busses, I wanted to make sure I at least went over its four main elements. You can increase or decrease a certain signal three different ways: dragging left and right (the X axis), dragging up and down (the Y axis), or covering more surface area with more of your finger (known as A for area). The fourth parameter is that by touching the touch screen at all, that can trigger a gate to open or close. I feel a bit like a broken record, but many of these abilities tie in to the digital side of things, so once that digital post comes up, we’ll be right back to the touch screen.

At this point, the only items on the front of the Minimoog Voyager that haven’t been discussed (besides the Modulation Busses) are the digital center (and the associated buttons) and four special red switches underneath the Oscillation section. Those four red switches are a post unto themselves, and while they can tie in to the Modulation Busses, knowledge of them isn’t essential the way the other items mentioned above are.

Like always, I will leave you with a video demonstrating each of these items.

Now that these odds and ends are crossed off, we’ll take the plunge into the Modulation Busses next time!

The Lovely LFO

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Greetings once again feller synthesis seekers! As the Summer of Synths comes to an end and as we look ahead to the Fall of Filters (which really isn’t the case since I already did a post on filters, but one must embrace the power of alliteration), we’ll wrap up August with a short post on LFO’s.

The big reason for the brief post is threefold: first, my wife and I were totally absorbed by the Rio Olympics; second, preparing for the school year (new schedule for my piano students, getting my entire year set up with the bands/orchestras/choirs I accompany, etc.); lastly (and most important to you, the reader), Lindby has a lot of new content on the horizon.

In fact, to accommodate this new content, Master Claset’s Theory Corner and Synth You Asked will now be posting once a month rather than every other week. If you want to be totally up to date on all these new Lindby endeavors, make sure to subscribe to our monthly mailing list by going to our homepage and scrolling down to the bottom! With that said, let’s return to LFO’s.

LFO stands for Low Frequency Oscillator. It functions just like the oscillators we discussed in the second ever Synth You Asked post. (I’d definitely recommend checking it out before reading the rest of this post!) The main difference is that the LFO is very slow and thus at a very low frequency. In fact, they’re so slow and low that we can’t even hear them!

Because of this, the LFO isn’t used for the sake of generating pitches. It’s used as a means of modifying and modulating aspects of the sound: pitch, waveform, filter settings, etc. This is accomplished via two main waveforms: a triangle wave and a square wave. The triangle makes the changes nice and smooth while the square wave is direct and instantaneous.

For the LFO section of the Minimoog Voyager, there are only two parameters to consider: LFO Rate and LFO Sync.

LFO Rate refers to how fast or slow the oscillations occur. It ranges from 0.2 Hz (one oscillation every five seconds) up to 50 Hz (50 oscillations every second). Since the human hearing range does go down to 20 Hz, we could technically hear the very high end of an LFO, but it’s hardly practical given what the main oscillators can do.

The LFO Sync provides four (technically five) methods to start/restart the oscillation process. They are as follows:

Off/Sync: The LFO runs independently unless something is plugged into the LFO Sync jack on the back of the Minimoog Voyager (this will be covered at later time).

MIDI: The LFO can be controlled via MIDI signals (once again, this will be a topic to discuss later with MIDI in general).

KB (Keyboard): The LFO resets whenever a new note is played on the keyboard. This can be useful when you want a new pitch to correspond to what the LFO is doing.

ENV. GATE: This will allow the LFO to be reset via an external gate plugged into the Envelope Gate Source jack (like Sync, this will be covered when we discuss physical inputs/outputs).

Lastly, the LFO plays an integral role in the S&H circuit (Sample & Hold), but I’d like to save that for the next post where we discuss Modulation Busses and the wealth of options entailed there.

As always, here’s a video that properly demonstrates everything discussed above.

We’re closing in on having covered all the basics. Next time, we’ll harness all of these ideas and put them to work!

Enjoying Envelopes

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We find ourselves once again sauntering through the summer of synths. Last time, we went over the tone sculpting power of filters and how we can use them to let through and/or block low sounds, high sounds, or both.

In addition to filters, we’ve figure out how make pitches using oscillators and how to adjust the primary sonic nature of said oscillators by using different waveforms.

Now we need to harness the actual execution of our pitches. At the moment (presuming we’re using a keyboard to make notes occur), when we strike a key, the note instantaneously starts, remains the same while we hold it, and then immediately stops when we let go. A nice start, but we can go so much further with the power of envelopes!

Before we get into what envelopes are in the synthesis world, I want to say you have to dig pretty deep in the dictionary to find an appropriate definition of the word.

We’re certainly not dealing with items made to contain letters, but we’re also not dealing with many of the other definitions. In fact, I had to go down to the sixth definition to find something even close to what we’ll be discussing today.

Just so we have it, said definition was: “Electronics: a curve joining the successive peaks of a modulated wave.” Not the most enlightening definition in the world, so we’ll focus on four easy letters instead:

A. D. S. R.

These four letters stand for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release, and they are the building blocks of any synthesizer envelope. To get a better idea of what each of these words mean, let’s put them into a visual format:

ADSR

Each line goes along with one of the letters. The first rising line is Attack, the next falling line is Decay, the flat line is Sustain, and the final falling line is Release. Moving left to right on this picture represents moving forward in time, while moving up and down represents how “strong” the envelope is (this “strength” can represent volume, brightness of tone, etc.).

The Minimoog Voyager has two envelopes: the volume envelope and the filter envelope. We’ll discuss volume first as I think it’s easier to wrap one’s head around.

The volume envelope determines how long it will take for a note to begin after striking a key (attack), if the note will fade a bit (decay), how loudly the note will ring out (sustain), and how long the note will fade after releasing the key (release).

If you have a very short attack, the note will begin instantly, which is similar to plucking a guitar string. If you have a very long attack, the note will slowly fade in, which is similar to a slowly pulling a bow over a violin string. The Moog can have an attack of 0 seconds all the way up to 10 seconds!

After the initial attack, the note might Decay to a lower volume. Going back to the guitar, the initial pluck is quite loud, but the sound of the string ringing out afterwards is generally softer. The time it takes to get to that softer ringing out is our Decay length. Just like Attack, this can be 0-10 seconds in length.

Once the Decay has occurred, the note will continue to Sustain as long as the key is held. So the value of the Sustain knob is not about time (unlike Attack and Decay). Instead the Sustain knob dictates how loud the sound will be after the first two stages of the envelope. If the Sustain knob is all the way down, the sound will fade away to nothing after the Attack and/or Decay. If the Sustain knob is all the way up, the sound will never Decay at all and will remain at full strength after the initial Attack.

Lastly, we have the Release. This is the amount of time it will take the sound to fade away once you release the key. Once again, we have a large range of options given that the release can last 0-10 seconds. You may want the sound to cut off instantly, you may want a bit of a taper, or maybe you want some epic, trippy space sounds that seemingly last forever.

To better demonstrate all of this, here’s a video exclusively on the Volume Envelope.

Right next door to the Volume Envelope is the Filter Envelope.

The same picture from above applies, but this time, going up and down on the picture represents how open or closed the filter is (if you missed the last post on Filters, I highly recommend checking that out first before proceeding).

A. D. S. and R. all work exactly the same as on the Volume Envelope. We’re just choosing how quickly to open and close the filter. The Sustain decides how open or closed the filter will wind up after the initial Attack and Decay, and the Release will fully close the filter over a certain amount of time.

Side-note: the Volume and Filter envelopes are independent of each other, so you could have two radically different envelopes going on at the same time, which enables you to create some wonderfully unique sounds.

The only unique item on the Filter Envelope is the knob called “Amount to Filter.” Unlike most knobs that proceed clockwise from least to most, this knob is “off” at the 12 o’clock position. When turned to the right, it has a positive effect on the envelope, and when turned to the left, it has a negative effect on the envelope.

When in positive mode, the envelope matches the picture above. The filter starts off closed and opens as it increases in strength.

However, when in negative mode, the envelope becomes a mirror image (flipped upside down) of the picture above. The filter starts open and closes as it follows the Attack, the Decay opens it back up, etc.

Once again, a video will do wonders to make all of this clearer.

One other item in the Envelope section that wasn’t touched upon today was the Envelope Gate. We’ll cover gates in a later post and will come back to this. For now, this post is under the presumption that all notes are activated via a keyboard.

With that all said, we’ve covered the main components of making sound on a synthesizer! Next time, we’ll get into how we can start to really modify and tweak our sounds via the LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) and Modulation Busses. Things are about to get wild!

Fun With Filters

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And so starts the stupendous summer of synths! After establishing the basis of synthesis, the operations of oscillators, and the world of waveforms, we’ll kick off the summer with a look at filters. Like in weeks past, we’ll be using the Minimoog Voyager as our example of how a specific filter works, but first, let’s discuss filters on a broader scope.

A filter in a synthesizer is just like a filter in any other facet of reality: we’re sending a medium through a filter to remove an unwanted part of that medium. In this specific case, we’re sending sound through a filter to remove certain frequencies of said sound. Generally speaking, we’re either trying to remove low sounds, high sounds, or occasionally both.

When you’re trying to remove high sounds, you call it a “low-pass” filter as the low sounds are what are passing through. When the low-pass filter is off, you’ll have a rich, full, bright sound. As you filter more of the high sounds out, the tone will become softer, darker, and more mellow.

By that logic, a “high-pass” filter will allow the high sounds through and will filter out the low ones. Once again, not having a filter will result in the full sound. This time, though, as you filter out the low sounds, you lose a great deal of body and depth, so the sound becomes very nasally and tinny. It can almost have a kind of “mosquito” quality to it.

You can also have a low-pass and a high-pass filter work together to only allow sounds in the middle to come through. This resulting “band” of sound that makes it through the filter is why a combination of these filters is called a “band-pass” filter. Not only does this allow you to control where the highs and lows begin and end, but it also allows you to choose how large of a “band” makes it through.

With the basis of filters sorted, we can put it to practical use with the Minimoog Voyager’s filters. And yes, that’s supposed to be plural! The Voyager actually has two filters that can be set in two different ways: dual low-pass or high-pass/low-pass.

In dual low-pass mode, two different low-pass filters are working together. If you were listening with headphones, one filter would be assigned to the left ear and the other to the right ear. This can allow for some very unusual and unique sounds in that you can essentially have two different sounds going on at once! Since most of the recordings and videos will be in mono, as I am just using one cable to send signal out of the Voyager, you won’t really be able to hear this effect, so we’ll save it for something more in depth further on down the road.

In high-pass/low-pass mode, you have one of each filter. It’s essentially how you create a band-pass filter. You’ll notice that there isn’t a standalone high-pass filter for the Moog. You can get that effect though by letting all the high sounds through the high-pass filter while letting very few low sounds through the low-pass filter. Basically, you’ve made a super small “band” of sound where only the high sounds can get through.

To set these filters on the Voyager (and many synths), you have what’s called a Cutoff Knob. This cutoff point is the frequency at which sounds (high or low) can no longer pass through. The Voyager Cutoff Knob can go from 20hZ to 12KhZ (which is close to the entire audio span of human hearing!).

Right below the Cutoff Knob is the Spacing Knob. For the Voyager, the Spacing Knob acts in two ways. For the Dual Low-pass mode, it essentially acts as the Cutoff Knob for one ear while the main Cutoff Knob functions for the other ear. In High-pass/Low-pass mode, it acts as the Cutoff Knob for the High-Pass filter (which establishes the size of that “band”).

Below that is a particularly interesting knob: the Resonance Knob. When you set the Cutoff Knob, you’re setting it as specific frequency. That frequency can be emphasized by using the Resonance Knob. It often gives the sound a vocal-like quality but can lead to many other interesting effects. On top of that, when you turn the Resonance Knob up to its highest settings, it will emphasize the frequency so strongly that the filter begins to self-oscillate and winds up creating a pure sine wave! This is how I made a sine wave in the last post regarding waveforms, as the Moog oscillators don’t naturally create sine waves on their own.

Then we come to a potentially confusing knob: Keyboard Control Amount. It boils down to this: if you have this knob turned all the way up, it means that as you play higher, the Cutoff Frequency gets higher, too. It’s as though you had an invisible hand turning the Cutoff Knob as you play higher and lower on the keyboard. If you have this knob turned all the way down, the invisible hand goes away and the Cutoff Knob stays the same regardless of the pitch you play. This can be very helpful if you want to make your higher sounds stick out (turn up the knob) or make them more muted and mellow (turn down the knob). Additionally, the use of this knob can really help emulate acoustic instruments in different ways.

Lastly, you come to the one switch amongst all these knobs. It’s just a red switch to go back and forth between Dual Low-pass and High-pass/Low-pass.

With all the knobs and switches explained, let’s end with a video showcasing all of these items back to back using the Dual Low-pass mode:

Next time on Synth You Asked: the power of envelopes and A.S.D.R.!

Harmonics and Waveforms

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Salutations again synth seekers! Last time, we discussed the nature of oscillation and, in turn, oscillators. These controlled oscillations in voltage are translated into definable pitch and sound: slower oscillations result in lower pitches while faster ones yield higher pitches. And if you combine different oscillators, you’ll wind up with multiple notes at once (AKA a chord).

While having actual notes to use is a key staring point, it’d be nice to be able to mold and sculpt these pitches/oscillators as we see fit. Do we want something bright and brash? Or perhaps soft and mellow? Perhaps something hollow and mysterious?

To achieve these different tones/timbres, one of the first variables to adjust is the waveform of each oscillator. We’ll discuss four (technically five) basic waveforms today, but to understand waveforms, you first need to know a little bit about harmonics.

Harmonics are a science unto themselves, so if you really want to dive deep, click here to go wild with math, graphs, etc. For everyone else, I just want to touch on the basics, so you’ll feel more comfortable with the world of waveforms.

In the most basic sense, harmonics are the means by which we create different pitches. A very basic example is to take a string (like on a guitar, violin, etc.) and pluck it. That is the basic fundamental pitch. If you cut that string in half (either by holding it down or literally cutting it), the pitch will now be twice as high (one octave). Other basic fractions of the string will yield different pitches (2/3 the length of the string is a perfect 5th, etc).

Quick side-note #1: if you’d like to know more about intervals in music, check out this post from Master Claset’s Theory Corner!

Additionally (and more practically to our synth studies), harmonics also serve the function of creating different tones and timbres for different instruments.

One of the core elements of this is something called the Harmonic Series, which is shown in the following image:

Harmonic_series_intervalsKnowing exactly what the picture above means isn’t crucial. What I want everyone to take away from this is to imagine that each note can act like a light switch. The bottom note (lower left corner) is always on. That’s the basis of a pitch itself. By turning the other “light switches” on and off, you will generate different tones and timbres. One combination of switches might create a piano tone while another combination might create a trumpet.

In short, different combinations of harmonics yield different sounds. With those ideas in mind, we can get back to the waveforms!

Since we’ve largely been using Moog Synthesizers as a basis for our discussion, I figured I’d refer to my Minimoog Voyager Manual for a brief description of each primary waveform as Moog provides such a concise description of each:

Waveformswhite

Sawtooth: “The sawtooth wave is the richest sounding of the four waves. It contains all of the harmonics, and has a bright, buzzy sound. Sawtooth waves are ideal for brass and string sounds, bass sounds and rich accompaniments.”

Square: “The square wave possesses a hollow sound compared to the sawtooth, owing to the fact that it contains only odd harmonics. This hollow characteristic is ideal for distinctive lead and sustained (pad) sounds.?An interesting aspect of the square wave is that the waveshape can be changed to make the top and bottom parts asymmetrical, creating a pulse wave. By changing the shape of the wave, new harmonics are introduced. Pulse waves are ideal for creating clavinet-like sounds, but are also useful for creating lush pads.”

Quick side-note #2: When Moog refers to changing the shape of a square wave and creating “pulse waves,” these are also known as rectangle waves because you are “crushing” the square shape (see imagine above) into a rectangle.

Triangle: “Like the square wave, the triangle wave only contains odd harmonics, but the levels of the harmonics in a triangle wave are much less. The triangle wave has a soft, slightly buzzy sound that is suitable for high- pitched leads (like a flute) or adding a beefy sub-bass to bass sounds.”

Sine: “The sine wave is the purest waveform of them all. It has no harmonics, so it produces a very pure tone. Because of this, sine waves generally aren’t used as primary audio signals, but are often used to reinforce or enhance other waves. They are also used as modulation sources.”

Quick side-note #3: The Minimoog Voyager I will be using for examples doesn’t make a pure sine wave via its oscillators. I can create one using another means, which I will demonstrate but will save the explanation of that section of the Voyager for another day.

To close today, all of these visual and text descriptions are great but hearing an actual example of these waveforms would be equally if not more helpful. In this video, I’ll have one oscillator on and will cycle through the basic waveforms. The Minimoog Voyager is quite interesting and versatile in that it can “blend” between waveforms, so I’ll move the knob slowly, so you can hear the transformation from one type to another and will pause on each pure waveform. Lastly, I’ll create a pure sine wave via another means (per “Quick side-note #3”).

With our oscillators oscillating and our waveforms morphing, we can prepare ourselves for the world of filters and envelopes!

Oscillation of Oscillators

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Salutations synth seekers! Last time, we discussed a brief history and overview of analog synthesis.

Additionally, I left everyone with two major points that will act as the bedrock for all topics moving forward:

1. Everything is made of waves.
2. Anything can be a source OR a destination.

While that’s all well, swell, and good, it won’t help us at all until we have some basic sounds to work with.

To do so, we should briefly discuss the nature of sound. Most of us learned in school about how sound is made of vibrations in the air and our ears picking up on those vibrations via changes in air pressure.

One term that I’ve noticed doesn’t get used as often is oscillation. An oscillation is a movement back and forth at a regular interval. In sound, those oscillations are the vibrations that we just mentioned. It could be the oscillation of a guitar string vibrating back and forth after being strummed; it could be the oscillation of a drum head after being struck by a stick; it could be the oscillation of your own vocal chords when you sing your personal tribute to the glory of synthesizers.

In an analog synthesizer, we will always find at least one oscillator as the catalyst for creating basic pitches. Many synthesizers have two or three oscillators, so you can create chords (multiple pitches sounding at the same time) or use those oscillators as other sources for modulation (this will be covered later on).

These oscillators have a voltage that is translated to a certain pitch. The higher the voltage, the higher the pitch and vice versa.

Some synthesizers, like my Minimoog Voyager pictured at the top of this page, can actually generate such a low voltage that the pitch becomes subsonic – meaning that human ears can’t perceive it. I’ll use this concept later on to demonstrate how the increasing oscillations lead to higher (and perceivable pitches), but I believe I can provide a more clear example using a metronome app.

The metronome on my phone far exceeds what most metronomes can do, and one of those items is that it can click so quickly that it winds up generating a pitch.

Imagine that as I increase the speed of the metronome, I’m really increasing the voltage of an oscillator on a synth.

You’ll notice that the clicks became so fast, they essentially “blurred” into a perceivable note. The same thing happens as we move from the subsonic to the sonic, but unless you’re a superhuman with super ears, an audio example of that wouldn’t carry the same meaning.

To put the velocity of this blurred speed into perspective, middle C (the note most of us learn first in the world of piano) vibrates about 261 times every second. That would be the same as hearing 261 of those clicks on that metronome app in a single second!

Lastly, regarding most synths, the oscillators have a few parameters that can be modified to change the sound:

1. Frequency
2. Octave
3. Waveform

The frequency is often a knob that allows you to shift the pitch up or down by a certain amount of steps (C to C# to D to D#, etc.). On my Moog, you can shift up or down each oscillator by a sixth (C to A as an example).

This can be used to generate chords, create a detuned (out of tune) sound, or many other items that will come into play in the coming weeks.

However, if you want to explore a larger range of pitches, you can incorporate the octave knob. This allows you to quickly jump a octave (C to C up or down) or more with a single action.

The range of octaves varies from synth to synth. Moog has always loved to push the envelope in this regard, so the Voyager can go through six octaves per oscillators. They are marked: 32′ 16′ 8′ 4′ 2′ 1′.

These marks are in reference to the pipes of a pipe organ. If you start with a pitch from a gigantic 32 foot pipe and cut it in half, you’ll get a pitch that’s twice as high (one octave) through a pipe that’s half as long. This process continues all the way to a one foot pipe.

Now that we’ve established what oscillators are, how they work, and how to get different pitches from them, we arrive at the waveform knob. This is a much deeper concept than just adjusting the frequency or octave, so it will be the topic of discussion next time.

Hopefully, you feel a bit more clear on the general idea of oscillation and how that concept has led to oscillators being the main generators of pitch in the synthesis world!

Welcome to “Synth You Asked”

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For millennia we have relied on strings, air, and percussion as our three main forms of musical production. Almost every fathomable instrument functions based upon one or more of these three basics sonic fuels.

The 20th century changed all of that with a fourth source: electricity. As we harnessed this world altering force, it made its way from the functional realm to the artistic. By controlling the amount of voltage (thus known as Control Voltage or CV) and translating that voltage to sound (the same way we do with running our phones to a set of speakers), humans were able to manifest pitch, volume, timbre, articulation, and all the other musical facets normally associated with traditional acoustic instruments.

While this new form of instrumentation was groundbreaking and would lead to a plethora of new sounds and genres, diving into the world of analog synthesis is often a little overwhelming at first. Especially when dealing with something like this behemoth: image1            Thus, my goal with Synth You Asked is to dispel all those fears and to show that with a few foundational concepts, working your way around an analog synthesizer isn’t the madhouse of cables, knobs, and switches that it initially appears to be.

Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be using my own personal Moog, an Electric Blue Minimoog Voyager (which I’m posing with in the photo above), as the basis for all the topics covered here. Here are just a few of the first topics that will be covered: Oscillators, Waveforms, Filters, Envelopes, Modulation Busses, and much more!

I’ve been working with my Moog and analog synthesizers for about six years at this point. Between reading and rereading (and rereading) the manuals, perusing synth forums, watching all sorts of videos, making huge Excel spreadsheets, and (of course) spending countless hours experimenting, I’ve amassed quite a bit of knowledge that I can impart. I’m by no means an analog synthesis expert, but I feel confident that if you follow along over the coming months, you’ll walk away from this with the knowledge you need to procure your own synth success.

For today, I want to close with two crucially vital pieces of information that will be the basis of everything else moving forward:

1)   Everything in analog synthesis is made of waves (such as this sine wave): image22)   In this world, anything and everything can be a source or a destination. In other words, any component of this synthesizer can affect/control another component.

If you fully embrace and memorize these two ideas, everything else will fall nicely into place.

Next time: oscillators and the nature of sound!

(Also, send your questions/comments to basser26@gmail.com, or leave a comment below!)