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One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

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

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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Dec 03, 2020 12:53 am

Martin Walker wrote:Well to me Track 1 immediately screamed Yoshimi Pi, but then I thought this must be too easy, so I suspect I'm wrong ;)

BJG145 wrote:Wow, awesome...

1) The Filter Strikes Back - great work Folderol! I thought this sounded really nice.

And I'm also really pleased that as a Yoshimi PI owner myself I recognised it correctly. Yay!! :thumbup:

Especially great work from everyone this time round - there isn't a duff track among them.

Well done everyone!


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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:16 am

resistorman wrote:I'd be very interested in hearing "how the sausage was made" comments about your tracks!

I can't take as much conscious credit for mine as I'd like to. It is an original work but it was one of those tracks that almost wrote itself and 'just happened', albeit with a little input from me.

Originally I was going to create a track using the Polyend Tracker and spent a number of hours over the last few weeks sampling bits of this and that, trying out grooves and whatnot. Other commitments then reduced the time I had to spend on it and I fell back to the Prophet 6 in the last three days (of which I used two).

I spent about 2 hours on the Thursday prior to the Saturday night deadline working out (mainly the details of) three 64-note riffs that the whole of track 12 is based on.

On the Saturday it was submitted, I started at about 1pm and firstly arranged those riffs into an order that worked for me. Bass was the next logical progression, then overdubs in the form of the lead in the intro followed by the 'light-and-fuzzy-and-airy' strings that beef the mix out after the break.

At that point it was sounding interesting and I literally scrolled through the presets to find the sounds for the latter half resulting in the 'triumphant' lead with the fifths built into it and the airy high string that appears over the mix in the outro. The rest was obvious and all I had to do was play it.

I then added the 'bass drum' (another preset on the Prophet 6), jammed live into the mix.

In short, the effort on my part was to come up with the three 64-note 'arpeggiations' plus playing live the lead over the first section, the bass, 'light-and-fuzzy-and-airy' strings, fifth's lead and outro high string.

The break in the middle with the metallic sweep noises I just mashed together from another couple of presets.

I recorded some LPF-cutoff and distortion-knob changes for the main 'arpeggiated' sound live while rendering the MIDI recording of the 'arpeggiated' part, and it's the increasing distortion which makes it cut through in the latter portions of the track.

I keep putting 'arpeggiated' in quotes because it although it sounds arpeggiated it was played live as three distinct 64-note sections and recorded as MIDI. I copied and pasted these in Studio One to construct the arrangement before rendering the result to audio while doing the cutoff and distortion changes in realtime.

There are two points in the piece that deliver something that makes me smile/laugh/punch the air (depending on what mood I'm in) and make it work as a composition to my ears. The first is where the 'light-and-fuzzy-and-airy' strings come in after the break at 1m:32s, and the second is the introduction of the third 64-note riff starting at 2m:20s.

The 'light-and-fuzzy-airy-strings' I find particularly pleasing as they sound more like a virtual analogue synth doing something better than a real analogue synth, but the Prophet nails it. Someone described the sound of the track as "huge" (thank you!), and I think those stocatto airy strings have a lot to do with that.

The track is comprised of 9 parts. 2 of them are the SFX in the break. At the climax of the track there are 5 parts playing simultaneously including the 'bass drum'.

In short, this could easily have been recorded on an 8-track. I love the OSC for reasons like this; it focusses the energy in really creative ways!

Much as I feel as if I was a conduit and that subsequent to the work on the core riffs the track all but wrote itself (with lots of inspiration from the Prophet 6), it's a piece I'm very satisfied with and will certainly revisit and extend as part of my forthcoming album project.

... and that's how the sausage was made :lol:
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Folderol » Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:15 am

I really must have another listen through, now the names and synths are out there.

I was quite surprised that a couple of people correctly zeroed in on my track, then immediately decided they must be wrong and went for something else! I will manage to fool you all one of these days :lol:

Anyway, some details:
The way I've produced this track is a bit of an embarrassment. It combines two features I implemented over 3 years ago, and a patch that I came up with 18 months ago, yet I've only just recognised the possibilities! Sometimes you can get too close to what you're doing :roll:

The features are MIDI-Learn, along with a small window to directly manipulate some standard MIDI CCs as if they were being performed by a remote MIDI controller.

The CCs I learned were Filter Cutoff, and Filter Q and these were linked to a standard foot pedal sending CC 7, with it's normal action blocked. In my defense, this only works for patches that have an appropriate filter enabled! There are two advantages doing it this way over going directly to learn the part elements. The first is that it will apply to any instrument on that channel. The second is that, with three engines, that would have required 6 learned lines instead of 2.

The patch, 'Multi Rushes' is a kit of three SubSynth engines, each with slightly different panning and envelopes. Also, both amplitude and filter are velocity sensitive (again per-engine), all of which gives it quite a lot of movement to start with.

It is a true improvisation, using just the one instance of this patch with me playing both hands (and one foot) in a single pass, while recording to a MIDI sequencer. The only editing I did was to remove a few ghost notes where I had clipped a key adjacent to the one I was playing.

Although I did this on my full-fat machine, Yoshimi-Pi would be metaphorically yawning while handling such a setup.
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Rich Hanson » Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:36 am

It's odd, I never really consider how I put together a piece of music (I have so many pieces that I listen to that make me think "how on earth did I do *that*??")

However, the Argon8X one (which really should have been called Noble rather than Nobel, but I decided to roll with my typo) was based on five patches. The drone is a patch slowly drifting through a wavetable with an LFO. The melodies were two different patches. These patches were all my own.

The rhythmic echoing part that underpins it was a slightly tweaked preset with a tempo synced digital delay, and the string part was also a slightly tweaked preset.

Everything bar the rhythmic part was hand played.

The VC340 was all hand played (to a metronome). The rhythmic vocal parts are the Human Voice (well, dur!) with a bit of tremolo and delay to give the rhythm. The main bass part is the Human Voice without the ensemble, the pitch control set to manual to take it down an octave and there is bass drone based on the same, plus another from the strings.

The organ-like melody is again the Human Voice without ensemble but with the vibrato added. This is doubled (and sometimes harmonised) with the strings about 6dB. I tweak the instrument tuning between each part just to give it a little more body.

Only other effect for both tracks was a bit of reverb.
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby MarkyC » Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:26 pm

That was such a good OSC and going back to listen now to figure see what’s what!

For me this was a new everything challenge, new interface, new monitoring, new workflow and only got the Rev2 three days before the challenge so it was great timing!

One thing (amongst the many) I have always struggled with is bass and low frequencies. I think it was Desmond that created something for one of these challenges it was so big! Just thought I’d love to be able to do that. So when the Rev came and suddenly I could get that low end – well kid in a candy shop! And err yes I may well have gone a little too far but I was enjoying myself….

So case of headphones on create, then back to speakers to monitor and blimey nearly blew everything up! headphones back on mix. No real need for eq to be honest just shelf filter top and bottom to clean it all up.

Using headphones rather than my ported monitors in an unruly room I think was the key.

So thanks as always Dave, these things always cheer me up and that was fun!
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby John Stafford » Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:59 pm

It's as fascinating reading about the compositions as it was listening to them. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby RichardT » Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:03 pm

'Sunrise to Sunrise' was written very quickly as part of a time-limited album (also called Sunrise to Sunrise). It was written during the first lockdown and the whole album was an expression of how I was feeling about COVID. This track reflects how people who are ill or anxious often wake at dawn, and if the pattern continues then in a way they are surviving from one sunrise to the next. It can be tough. It was inspired by a photo the author Michael Rosen took of the dawn from his bed while he was ill with COVID.

The harmony line is similar to Bach's prelude in C major, as several people have spotted, and the melody line is slightly French in style. It uses the Synthmaster KV331 plugin and Superior Drummer 3 for the drums. The time limit ensured that the arrangement had to be very simple.

‘American Requiem’ used the Pharlight Kontakt library from Native Instruments. I’m not completely happy with it yet, I think it needs a little more development. Pharlight is good at granular synthesis and evolving percussive soundscapes but it also has some good pads and bass patches. The Trump quotes come from a ‘soundboard’ which was a new concept to me- people load up lots of quotes into an online repository which presents them in a grid, and it’s possible to download. All the Trump ones are real I believe. I also listened to an Obama soundboard where a lot of the entries were fake and designed to make him look bad. That tells you everything you need to know about their supporters I think.

This piece started life with just the chord sequence and I added the effects piece by piece. The last note is in a different key, suggesting uncertainty about the future.
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby fruitcake » Fri Dec 04, 2020 12:35 am

Thank you Dave for shepherding another OSC through!! It's an honor and a privilege to be included
I didn't have much time to work on this one. For some reason my industry is going bonkers right now. I started off knowing I'd use Falcon. I began with some pulsing bass tones and arpeggios. Didn't like it. Pulled up a tune I had been working on with orchestral samples in Logic and reworked it with Falcon patches. It was originally harpsichord, cello, strings and trumpet. I worked on patches that would be in the same tonal range but not try and imitate real instruments. Mainly using "analog" and "analog stack" waveforms as a basis then adding filter and envelopes and mods to flavor. I played the "harpsichord" part in live then layered the other parts over the top. Put a Fabfilter Q3 EQ on most channels, some reverb on the pads, then Symphony reverb and Ozone on the master bus. Very quick and simple.
And no, I was not stoned and no Wurlitzers were harmed in the making of this track. :lol:
I can't say the same for any Farfisas.
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The Confusingly Titled Track 9 - desmond

Postby desmond » Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:58 am

The Confusingly Titled Track 9 That Begins as a Quirky Little Off-Kilter Retro Night Chase Sequence and Resolves to a Fleeting Moment of Beauty and Transcendence As The Sun Comes Up And We Realise We Made It Out Alive

u-he Repro 5

So there's been a lot of Prophet 5 buzz lately with Dave's anniversary and the re-release, and some folks here will know that I share Elf's general 'not-keen'-ness of the Prophet 5, while at the same time having distinctly warm feelings about the (lovely) Pro One.

The P5 was, and is, a legendary, genuinely game-changing synth that managed to set the initial template for what a "good" polysynth should be, and it *looks* fabulous. But I never warmed to the sound - it's difficult to put into words, but when I hear people playing it, particularly dry, it has a "hard" sound (I think someone mentioned the term "grainy", which isn't right either, but I kinda know what they mean), not heavy, but somewhat unsubtle, not helped by a lot of fairly harsh classic presets, like the basses or *that* "sync" sound - particularly when the filter is open, resonance is up or there's polymod going on.

So, it seemed a good opportunity to use and explore a synth I don't really like, and see what I could do and whether perhaps I could change my opinion. u-he's excellent Repro-5 is commonly regarded as a pretty 'perfect' emulation, so that was my weapon of choice this time around. (Yes, I bought it for the Pro One emulation, the P5 was thrown in for the people that couldn't understand the point of a monosynth...)


Image

I usually try to avoid the typical sounds that most people who associate to these synths, and I wanted to do a track that was a bit more pure synth - so no drums, and not a complicated mix job.

So, noodling around, I often gravitate for some pluck-type sounds, avoiding the harsher filter-open stuff, and came up with a little odd-meter riff which became the foundation of the track.

I liked the different ways you can perceive the beat here - you can follow the riff in 8ths (11/8) as it cycles, or just count in 4/4, so as I built out parts I'd alternately play into, or against those beats - the bass notes which lead the chord changes for instance would sometimes change on full completion of the riff, or sometimes change where the 4/4 beats are, and sometimes even *between* 4/4 beats for those who were counting that way and starting to get comfortable.

(I liked it, but in the end I changed many of those off-beat change timings to come back to being a little more conventional, so it's not quite as challenging to follow, but it still defies whatever beat you're following in various places, which was the point. Hence the "off-kilter chase" theme - I kind of imagined running around, being yanked down corridors and often quickly changing direction.)

As I started fleshing it out with pads etc, I came across a string-type sound which actually sounded quite sweet as you opened up the filter, so I decided to make that a "moment" where the track swells up, and made the parts work to support that. I blurred, widened and receded the arpeggio/sequence parts during that climax with FX and automation so it kind of feels like you're caught in the middle of this whirlpool, with the outside world out of focus spinning around you. Or something.

Then it was really a case of colouring in various parts of the track with new sounds and parts. In some cases I went after very particular sounds, and I used automation to make this things change over time, or mutate during drop outs, and build in intensity as the track progresses to it's climax to try and keep it moving.

There's actually very little compression or EQ used in the whole mix - just a bit of buss compression and a touch of "tape" on the master. So it's mainly Repro-5 (about 12 instances) and some wet FX, with various synth and FX automation.

Some DAW screenies

Image

Image

Image

Plugins used:

Mostly some Soundtoys stuff for delays, phaser, Softtube Tape, bit of Valhalla & u-he MFM, a bit of EQ to tame some FX returns, Ozone

Have Another Listen

Here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5otcmdc78fi328o/OSC-V_%28desmond%29_b.wav?dl=0

Stems

If you want to look into the sounds and parts in more detail, here are the stems of the individual tracks, with track FX & automation, but no buss FX. The track is at 108bpm. Do what you want with it.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d64vcjgnthk6fda/OSC_Stems_108bpm.zip?dl=1 (310MB)


So...

...did this change my attitude to the Prophet 5?

Well, not really. But *any* instrument can provide good, musically useful sounds, and the Prophet is no exception. There is still a whole area of the P5 I'm not so keen on, and I don't find it that flexible a synth, or the sweet spot particularly wide for me - and while the polymod section is useful for special effects, and extends the palette of possible sounds - it's less useful imo in the context of what I want from a polysynth; I don't have a huge need for crazy widdly cross-modulated special FX sweeps. As I mostly stayed away from that stuff here, and stuck to smoother, darker sounds, I liked what I came up with.

I guess in general I'm less into the big American polysynths, and prefer the more smoother, refined character of the Japanese stuff (Roland in particular.)

But, as long as I stay away from the overly harsh stuff, the Prophet 5 has it's place.

Standing on it's end, in the corner, behind the Jupiter 8 and the Pro One, waiting for the Reverb listing to complete... ;)
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Folderol » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:08 pm

Very much enjoying reading about how everyone else worked on their entries.
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:54 pm

Folderol wrote:Very much enjoying reading about how everyone else worked on their entries.

Indeed - fascinating reading, and I was particularly interested in desmond love/hate relationship with the Prophet 5, and his DAW arrangement page images! 8-)


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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby MarkyC » Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:20 pm

Are we allowed to know what the morse code was in SpyTheme by RandomGuitarist?
I really did spend ages recording, processing and putting it through a morse code translator

(The link if anyone else wants to try https://morsecode.world/international/translator.html)
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Dave B » Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:43 pm

Obviously, I was quite silly! And yes, the Hammond is a synth - it's a 9 partial additive synth with manual envelopes and onboard fx. So there!

Seriously, every time someone asks me about the OSC - specifically if they can use fx - I always reply that it's fine and have joked that they can put an organ (this time it was Vox Continental) through an Eventide and I'd still accept the entry. So I wondered if it was possible to stretch the organ slightly more than is possible with use of fx.

The answer is : no ... not really. It's not a bad sound in itself, but it is quite distinctive and any attempt to dial in frequency content led to the sound becoming just very 'organ-y'. The bassline is a simple drone through the Logic step filter. The pad is all sorts of modulation effects to try and disguise the tone. The 'blips' are interesting as they are no drawbars - just key click and delay. I liked that and want to try a couple of other things with it.

But basically, it was a bit of daftness. Just for light relief. I promise I'll do a serious one next time. Or maybe the time after ... ;)
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby desmond » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:05 pm

Dave B wrote:Obviously, I was quite silly! And yes, the Hammond is a synth - it's a 9 partial additive synth with manual envelopes and onboard fx. So there!

Yeah, but no aftertouch, so... *whatever*...! :tongue: ;) :lol:

Dave B wrote:The answer is : no ... not really. It's not a bad sound in itself, but it is quite distinctive and any attempt to dial in frequency content led to the sound becoming just very 'organ-y'. The bassline is a simple drone through the Logic step filter. The pad is all sorts of modulation effects to try and disguise the tone. The 'blips' are interesting as they are no drawbars - just key click and delay. I liked that and want to try a couple of other things with it.

I'm looking forward to giving another listen through with a bit more context as to what's going on... always interesting!

Dave B wrote:But basically, it was a bit of daftness. Just for light relief. I promise I'll do a serious one next time. Or maybe the time after ... ;)

*Maybe*... :lolno:
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Re: One Synth Challenge V - The Filter Strikes Back!

Postby Random Guitarist » Sun Dec 06, 2020 2:22 pm

MarkyC wrote:Are we allowed to know what the morse code was in SpyTheme by RandomGuitarist?
I really did spend ages recording, processing and putting it through a morse code translator

(The link if anyone else wants to try https://morsecode.world/international/translator.html)

It was just 'sound on sound' over and over again. I was very lazy and went to a morse generating site that actually created a midi file for me. (http://www.robertecker.com/hp/research/ ... erator.php)

once imported I found the midi file generated didn't work so well so I moved the 'notes' to fit manually maintaining relative note lengths and spacings for letters /words. Listening to the morse track in isolation I could check it was right. Once the rest of the tracks were there I found it hard to pick out the actual morse code letters, but I liked the rhythmic effect.

The whole thing was a bit of a one hour special, picking a vst at random and reusing a chord sequence I like on guitar. The first arpeggio sounded a bit like a late 70 soundtrack to me so seemed like a spy related feel was appropriate. I was desperately short of time and it's very lightly tweaked presets, not original sound-sculpting. So I feel a tiny bit fraudulent about that. Will do better next time.
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