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: 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): 2) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below!)