Get up to scratch with synthesizing methods by reading Paul Wiffen's 12-part series on synth programming! This series covers topics from analogue fundamentals to complex forms of digital synthesis and instrument modelling techniques.
Synth School: Part 1
After all the political talk in recent years about a return to traditional values, Paul Wiffen kicks off a major new series on synth programming by arguing the Analogue Fundamentalist Party case — that an understanding of the basic elements of traditional analogue synths is essential to fully exploit the various types of synthesis available today.
Synth School: Part 2
This month, Paul Wiffen looks at ways of modifying a filter's shape, both in terms of frequency response and over time, and considers the importance of routing in connecting together a synth's various sound-generating and -modifying components.
Synth School: Part 3
Having completed his study of analogue synthesis last month, Paul Wiffen takes a look at FM and its related digital synthesis types, which rocked the synth world throughout the 1980s.
Synth School: Part 4
Throughout the '80s, additive synthesis was the Holy Grail for synth purists; many machines aspired to it, but only one achieved it successfully. Paul Wiffen explains how additive works and looks at the various implementations, including the newly updated Kawai version.
Synth School: Part 5
At the January NAMM show in 1987, Roland launched their D50, which mixed synthesis and sampled sounds in one package, a compbination which has remained popular to the current day. Paul Wiffen examines how S&S evolved into the most widespread form of sound generation on the market.
Synth School: Part 6
The ball of S&S synthesis had been thrown, and most of the big names in synthesis caught it and ran with it, scoring some notable goals in the process. Paul Wiffen continues his chronicle of modern synthesis with a look at the state of play from the late '80s to the present day.
Synth School: Part 7
Between the extremes of the broad brushstrokes of subtractive synthesis and the painstaking detail of additive, there have existed many hybrid styles of synthesis combining the speed of the former with the precision of the latter. Paul Wiffen traces the development of this middle ground through its successes and heroic failures.
Synth School: Part 8
Paul Wiffen continues to examine transitional synthesis, covering the Wave Sequencing facility, first introduced on the innovative Korg Wavestation, and concluding with Emu's Z-plane technique, which may be regarded as bridging the gap between S&S and today's physical modelling.
Synth School: Part 9
Physical Modelling and Virtual Synthesis have been buzzwords for several years now, especially when it comes to imitating analogue synthesis. But what are their advantages and disadvantages, and how do they work? Paul Wiffen explains.
Synth School: Part 10
Last month, Paul Wiffen looked at how virtual synthesis can emulate analogue synths whilst going beyond their hardware-based limitation. Now he looks at its applications for imitating and exceeding older instruments such as electric piano and organ.
Synth School: Part 11
In the penultimate part of his series on synthesizer technology, Paul Wiffen turns his attention to the problem of emulating acoustic instruments in which the sound is produced by a string or reed, and amplified and modified by the body of the instrument.
Synth School: Part 12
Will physical modelling continue to be at the leading edge of synthesis, or are there other methods moving up on the inside tracks? Paul Wiffen winds up the Synth School series with a little crystal ball-gazing.