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Synth sound strategies...

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby IAA » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:43 pm

One thing I do often is make notes on paper about each track with information about the synths, patch locations and other salient info for future reference. This then gets stuffed into a folder and never looked at again in the main. I've not always kept that up to date but it's something I try and do.

I’m impressed Eddy, I’ve set myself this challenge for a 2020 resolution. In logic there is a way to store notes and even pics so when the studio is up and running again, this is the way I’m going. :bouncy:

I’ve also used the time without my analog synths to explore the nooks and crannies of the Kronos, the string engine paired with the MS20 exi is sounding great, layering sounds is a cool thing to try.
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:23 pm

LOTS of great ideas and strategies here!

Personally, I have no strategy whatsoever. :)
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Rich Hanson » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:46 pm

I must be a bit strange, I find myself very much heading the other way these days, in that I find myself gravitating towards synths without presets, although I suspect that might be down to my increased confidence that I can dial up the sound I want without too much effort. I like the idea that each time I get a sound that it’s at least a little bit different to the previous times I’ve used it.
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby BillB » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:41 pm

IAA wrote: In logic there is a way to store notes and even pics so when the studio is up and running again, this is the way I’m going. :bouncy:

That's a nice idea. Sadly I'm not a Logic user and I am sort of keeping away from PC's as far as possible, but I do like the idea of using the DAW as a song/project database. I wonder if Reaper can do something similar...
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby BillB » Mon Dec 30, 2019 8:42 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Personally, I have no strategy whatsoever.

That's fine, Ben, there are no rules :bouncy:
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby The Elf » Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:50 pm

I just play the whole thing by ear, TBH. When I get a new synth I'll spend an evening fiddling with it and getting to know what avenues it can lead me down, and I may save a few patches during that time, but I neither make a science of it, or have any strategy for patch creation. There are a few sounds that I will invariably aim for, just to see what happens. Rare is the synth that can do a convincing Pro Soloist Fuzz Guitar, a Taurus bass, a raw GR-500 guitar synth, a rolling JX pad and a truly thumping Oberheim poly patch, so I often aim for these stereotypes to see where it leads.

When I'm working on a piece of music I almost always program something new, based on a similar patch to what I need. In the past I would carefully store these new patches, with song names to help me go back if needed. As time moved on I understood that rarely would I go back and so instead just let things happen organically. It's a rare synth sound that has me scratching my head to figure out how I created it - I can rustle up something close enough in a few minutes. If I find something truly unique then the patch will be saved, and I try to give it a generically useful name to help me in future. I have no numbering system, TBH. Wherever is available is just fine.

Once upon a time I was so careful to manage my patches. I recall spending weeks cataloguing my DX/TX sounds in the Chameleon library software, but I consider that time wasted now.

The only common patch I create on every synth is highest numbered patch 'Chu-Ning' I'll leave you to figure that one out!
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Dave B » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:19 am

I kind of understand where TB is coming from. In my case, I've traditionally owned a load of synths and had somewhere around a favourite dozen or so per synth. But even that has dropped off these days and I'm down to just one mainstay in the studio which has a card with favourite patches on it and I only really use a handful of those. I do gravitate towards the vst versions of M1/Wavestation for stock stuff for writing but only the latter is really something that I'd keep. I have the odd specialist vst like Chromophone which I tinker with happily. Ok, I do sometimes zip through the Kronos for an alternate pad/string/choir ...

In fact, I've got to the stage where it's all a bit overwhelming. I have one of the older Arturia synth packages and it was all too much for me - I ended up just using the simplest synth (the SEM-alike) for a bunch of stuff and ignored the presets on that. The others were just too many options and patches and life is just too short. My needs are rarely complex and I know enough about analogue synths to be able to knock something up if I need it.

And that's where I'm most happy these days. We have stunning synths of all persuasions and I'm happy to just wheel in something from my collection, plug it in and have fun. I record the audio and just live with it - I have the midi to recreate it and am happy that if I don't like the sound 100%, then saving the preset is almost a waste of time.

So 30-40 stock sounds seems about right. A few pianos and epianos, an organ, some pads, strings and choirs ... yeah ... all the stock stuff should boil down to about that. Get the idea down and if you need to tweak then do it once the music is written. But scrolling through lists of patches all the time? Life's just too short!!

:D
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Arpangel » Tue Dec 31, 2019 9:55 am

BillB wrote:
Arpangel wrote:so I’m with Tony on this one, any more than that is a waste of time IMO.

Interesting you are the only one to back up your namesake so far... a coincidence? Perhaps... :D

It’s a valid approach, but do you ever worry that ‘your sound’ may be at the expense of missing a wider sonic palette that might take you in different compositional directions? Or is the self-imposed limit a fair trade-off?

I used to be really into making new sounds, and getting inspiration from "them" alone.
Not anymore, I can’t be bothered, and I don’t want to spend any time programming.
I’m relying entirely on my traditional music skills now, it’s the notes that interest me more not the actual sounds, or textures.
I’d be quite happy with a a piano, Hammond and polysynth, and that’s being overly generous in its potential. My Buchla hasn’t been used for ages, it’s just too much trouble to program, so may be heading for readers adds.
I guess I just can’t be bothered anymore, I’m still making music, it’s all going well, so why not just go with the flow, gear doesn’t seem to affect me that much except too much of it, especially if it’s complicated and distracting.
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby BillB » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:06 am

Arpangel wrote:it’s the notes that interest me more not the actual sounds, or textures.
I think the above summarises an approach that is coming through quite strongly in this thread. Very interesting, perhaps a reflection of the difference between ‘players’ and ‘synthesists’? Not that I am trying to define one or the other, just accepting that people own hardware or software for different reasons.

Given that sense of opting for a limited palette of sounds, why do folks get excited when new synths are announced (e.g. Novation Summit, ASM Hydra, Moog One, ARP 2600) or speculated about (Behringer CS80). Is it new sound creation possibilities, new performance capability or just the prospect of owning something shiny - and new? No criticism of anyone’s approach or motives, my own are not that good (owning a (box)room full of synths that I am forever trying to ‘organise’ rather than play or record) but I am interested in what drives folks to want new synths, if not new sounds....
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby zenguitar » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:53 am

First World problems ;)

I have bridge pickup, neck pickup, or both pickups as options. And struggle to remember which is which.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby BillB » Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:06 pm

zenguitar wrote:First World problems ;)
I have bridge pickup, neck pickup, or both pickups as options. And struggle to remember which is which.
Andy :beamup:

Wot, no pedals? :headbang:
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:16 pm

zenguitar wrote:
I have bridge pickup, neck pickup, or both pickups as options. And struggle to remember which is which.

Andy :beamup:

Well a guitar is a real instrument infinitely complex in expression and simple at the same time while baring the soul of the player through every gesture. :thumbup:
no disrespect to synth players.

and yet with pedals and fx boxes we have access to many, many patches so face the same challenge of organization. I posted a question to guitar players about whether 1 pedal = 1 patch and that seemed to be the preferred method. Not many were patch tweakers and something sitting on the floor makes that tricky. And yet some of the new pedals are remarkably complex synths in their own right as I’m discovering.
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby BillB » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:26 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Well a guitar is a real instrument infinitely complex in expression and simple at the same time while baring the soul of the player through every gesture. :thumbup:
no disrespect to synth players.

and yet with pedals and fx boxes we have access to many, many patches so face the same challenge of organization. I posted a question to guitar players about whether 1 pedal = 1 patch and that seemed to be the preferred method. Not many were patch tweakers and something sitting on the floor makes that tricky. And yet some of the new pedals are remarkably complex synths in their own right as I’m discovering.

Quite. Even primitive instruments can have first world issues.... :round1:

(Only joking - I love guitars too :mrgreen: )
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:33 pm

:mrgreen:
Btw - what is the second world? Anybody know?
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:38 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Btw - what is the second world? Anybody know?

When the term was coined in the early 50s it referred to the Soviet Union, Red China, North Korea, Cuba, the countries of Eastern Europe subjugated by the Soviets and parts of Southeast Asia.

(I sort-of-knew this but had to go look it up to check!)
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Random Guitarist » Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:58 pm

I'd always assumed 2nd world was the USA (New world symphony etc), so I learned something today. :thumbup:
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Folderol » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:17 pm

Random Guitarist wrote:I'd always assumed 2nd world was the USA (New world symphony etc), so I learned something today. :thumbup:
Well there you go. SOS is a fund of world knowledge, not just music :lol: :bouncy:
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:22 pm

I learned something new the other day. A fact which surprised me in that I didn't know I didn't know it.

Ever wondered (or assumed you knew) what pineapples grow on? ;)

Unless you really do know, you might be surprised. I've been taking a straw poll amongst friends and family since I acquired this information and so far the majority assumed, as I had, that they grew on trees.
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:25 pm

Dave B wrote:We have stunning synths of all persuasions and I'm happy to just wheel in something from my collection, plug it in and have fun. I record the audio and just live with it - I have the midi to recreate it and am happy that if I don't like the sound 100%, then saving the preset is almost a waste of time.

Bingo. That hits the nail on the head as I see it!
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Re: Synth sound strategies...

Postby Folderol » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:52 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:I learned something new the other day. A fact which surprised me in that I didn't know I didn't know it.

Ever wondered (or assumed you knew) what pineapples grow on? ;)

Unless you really do know, you might be surprised. I've been taking a straw poll amongst friends and family since I acquired this information and so far the majority assumed, as I had, that they grew on trees.
I had the feeling it was a 'ground' plant, so was pleased (to a degree) when I looked it up.
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