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SToons Music
Joined: 03/01/2018 - 02:48
Atmospheres101 companion - using Modulation101

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The word "Modulation" essentially means to "change"

Caution: when you open this file and turn the Mute off it will produce noise even if you do not press Play or touch a key. This will make sense soon.

The Modsynth is probably the best for learning. With other synths the wiring and inner workings are kinda invisible. Those who understand basic synthesis can deduce most aspects but the Mod is the best to start with.

If you unmute synth 1, noise appears. Aside from Mute you have no control except to turn a volume knob. We need to be able to Modulate the volume. You'll notice nothing is attached to the Mod jack on the Noise Generator module.

Mute synth 1 again and go to synth 2. Notice that a DADSR envelope is now connected to the Mod jack of the Noise Generator. This allows you to "modulate" or "change" the volume of the Noise.

Press a piano key and listen. Now set the Attack time on full and listen. Set the Release time to full and try again.

You have now Modulated the volume using an envelope and discovered you have control over aspects of the volume like how quickly it starts or fades.

Next, you can also Modulate sound using different methods. Commonly, automation and LFOs are used as different and complimentary methods to Modulate or change a sound.

Go to synth 3. Notice there is now a MiniLFO attached. However, the DADSR is already allowing us to Modulate the volume so the jack is in use.

Fortunately we can also modulate the volume in the top right corner of the Modsynth by attaching an envelope or LFO to the jack labeled, guess what... "Volume Mod".

Now pressing a key allows us to Modulate the Noise by turning it on or off. The LFO also Modulates the sound now. The sine wave setting changes the volume smoothly. The square wave setting will change the volume just as it's shape would imply - on or off. The "random" setting on the far right changes the volume randomly and as time goes by it will be your best friend.

Adjusting the Rate of the LFO should be self explanatory.

Finally, for this lesson, go to synth 4 and unmute it. Be sure the other synths ate muted. Press Play and note how the volume follows the automation drawn or recorded.

So, that's 3 different common methods to Modulate the volume:

1 - using as envelope

2 - using an LFO

3 - using automation

SToons Music
Joined: 03/01/2018 - 02:48
The last lesson dealt with

The last lesson dealt with Modulating the "Volume" of the Noise. This lesson deals with "filtering" the Noise as well as Modulating the filter.

Unmute synth 5 and either Play the pattern or press a piano key. The sound is filtered. It sounds a little like the cabin of an airplane. Play with the Cutoff and Resonance knobs to get a feeling for what they do.

Mute synth 5 and go to synth 6. Unmute or Solo it.

There is no "Mod" jack on the filter because you cannot modulate the "volume" of a filter - it has no volume! You CAN however Modulate the Cutoff or Resonance.

Notice the new DADSR envelope is attached to the filter Cutoff. The first DADSR we added controlled the volume and it has an instant Attack. The new envelope which controls the filter has a long attack.

When you press Play or a keyboard note the volume starts right away but the filter comes in slower.

Go to synth 7. An LFO is now connected to the envelope Mod jack. This allows the LFO to Modulate the filter just as it previously modulated the volume. Again press Play or use the keyboard; the results should be fairly obvious. If not, ask questions.

Again try adjusting the Rate, Cutoff and Res knobs as it plays and listen.

Synth 8 repeats the process from last lesson - the Cutoff is now automated.

You have now seen how we can Modulate the filter just like the volume.

There are now 6 different ways to Modulate the Noise so far - you can Modulate the volume and or the filter both, using one of 3 methods. You can also combine methods allowing you to Modulate the Noise in 6 ways simultaneously.

You can also Modulate the Resonance and other controls.

That's next.

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SToons Music
Joined: 03/01/2018 - 02:48
Here is a practical example

Here is a practical example combining things so far.

The DADSR on the left allows you to control the volume of the noise and the LFO Modulates that volume up and down.

The DADSR on the right allows you to control the Cutoff of the filter and the LFO Modulates that level up and down.

With a little tweaking you can produce sounds like a helicopter etc.

You may be surprised to find that it's frequently much easier to modify an existing sound to get the desired results than to spend an infinite amount of time searching for that sound somewhere else. That has been my experience.

See if you can make sense of this example, if not then always feel free to ask questions.

P.S. The Auto-Pan effect I added is a modulator as well. It is simply modulating the volume levels in stereo: as the volume on the left speaker increases so the volume level on the right side decreases and vice versa. Hopefully you can see how even this much knowledge will really help when creating atmospheric sounds.

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SToons Music
Joined: 03/01/2018 - 02:48
The last l few lessons dealt

The last l few lessons dealt with Modulating the Volume" and filter cutoff of the Noise.

Now we introduce a waveform generator to demonstrate a few more Modulation sources. The main reason for this is that Noise is not a note.

An A440 note has a specific frequency: it cycles at a rate of 440 times in 1 second. Noise is essentially equal at all frequencies. This is why there is no "Note" input on the Noise Generator.

Synth 1 is identical to synth 2 from the first lesson. If you try to play it there is a big problem: wee by note sounds the same! We need to tell the synth to Modulate the pitch to match the note we play.

Unmute or Solo synth 2. Note that the "Note CV" jack is now connected to the Note input of the waveform generator. The synth now responds to different notes.

But there is now another potential problem - despite the fact that some notes are supposed to have different volumes, which we know because they are different shades of black and white, they all have the same volume.

Previously we Modulated the Volume using 3 different sources: an envelope, an LFO and using automation.

Now we will Modulate the volume using the individual velocity of each note. Since the DADSR envelope is already connected to the Mod input of the waveform generators we can connect the "Note Vel" (note velocity) jack to the Mod input of the waveform generator just as previously done with the MiniLFO.

Look at synth 3. Both the Note CV and the Note Vel are connected so now the synth will identify and reproduce both the pitch and the volume (velocity) of each note.

Next it's back to the Noise but with the understanding that we can Modulate the Volume AND the filter Cutoff, and later Resonance as well, using FIVE methods:

1 - envelope

2 - LFO

3 - automation

4 - using the pitch of a note

5 - using the velocity of a note

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SToons Music
Joined: 03/01/2018 - 02:48
Here are some examples where

Here are some examples where the Note CV and Note Vel are used to Modulate the Noise.

Will edit and explain these examples soon.

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Funzerkerr's picture
Joined: 10/16/2018 - 12:17
This is well explained. I am

This is well explained. I am starting to understanding mod synth. Big thanks!