Join Rick Schmunk for an in-depth discussion in this video Emulating vintage synth oscillator modulation, part of Learning Ableton Analog.
- The oscillators in vintage synths were infamous for their tuning and pitch problems. But somehow that problem contributed to the overall sound and vibe, which many think is missing in modern software and hardware synths. Let's take a look at pitch modulation and how we can emulate those old synths using analog. So, I've got exercise 10 from chapter one open, and it's named Oscillator Modulation. And, I've got a simple setup going here with analog with a couple of sawtooths waves going through our filters.
And I want to point out that I've got LFO1 and LFO2 assigned to the cutoff frequency in the filter. So LF01 is on, and if I click the shell here for the filter we'll see that the frequency mod LF01 has been raised and I've done the same thing for the cutoff frequency on filter 2. So that's adding a little bit of movement to the patch in terms of the tone changing. Here's what it sounds like. (keyboard music) So as I sustain that out, you hear just a little bit of movement happening.
So, I'd like to be able to make the oscillator Detune feature that we see here, drift a little bit. So, I could go over to the pitch shell, and I want you to notice that pitch modulation is available here as well. And I can introduce a little bit of that by dialing in this feature. If I hold down a note (keyboard music) It's like that's not going to be really useful. The problem here is that I've only got these two LFOs, and I've already assigned these to the filter cutoff frequency.
Often, when I start working on a sound, I'm going to use the LFOs that are available to modulate some aspect of the filters. So let me bring this back down. Let's take a look at how we can solve this problem. So, I'm going to go over into my browser and I'm going to click the Max For Live option and I'll click in the Max MIDI Effect, and I want to point out that we have a max plugin called LFO MIDI. Now, for those of you who have Live Suite, Max for Live is included, and you'll be able to access all of this.
Now I'll point out that you will need to download the Max for Live Essentials Pack, and you will also need to download Max and load that onto your machine as well. I am going to grab this plugin, and I'm going to drag and put that in our device chain. And remember that MIDI plugins go before the software instrument, not after it. So, I'll drop that there. We see Max for Live open up, and we see this LFO MIDI plugin.
Now just because I've used this, I'm going to start off by just pulling down the rate and depth a little bit before I assign this. Because as soon as I assign this, it's going to start modulating that other parameter. So on the LFO MIDI plugin, you'll notice that we have this Map button. So all I need to do is click that and then select the parameter that I want to modulate. So I'm going to click the Detune parameter, and we can see that immediately starts to move back and forth.
And now I can set the amount that that's going to drift and the speed at which it does that by setting the rate and depth on this. And, I'm going to set the depth so it's not going quite so far. We'll experiment with the rate. We may want it to go a little bit faster than that. Now, this is using a sine wave, shaped to do this, which is great. But I want it to be just a little bit more random than that. So I'm going to dial in a little bit of this jitter, which, as I turn that up, you'll see the line get just a little bit more jagged.
And I'll start somewhere like that. So that's only on one of these oscillators. I want to do this to both oscillator one and oscillator two. So, I'm going to select the LFO MIDI plugin, and I'm going to go cmd + d, that'd be ctrl + d on a PC, and I'm going to duplicate the LFO MIDI plugin. So now I have two of them that are both controlling the detune on oscillator one. But I'm going to go down and I'm going to click the X button next to the mapping feature here on the second one that I just created.
That's going to unmap it. And now I can click that button and I can click the detune parameter on oscillator two. And then most likely what I would do would be to change these values just a little bit. So they're not exactly the same. And now we've got this. (keyboard music) So we have a tonal change that's happening with the LFO that is modulating the cutoff frequencies on both filter one and filter two.
And we've got this LFO that we added that's modulating these two detune parameters. As we discussed earlier, analog may seem like a simple device. But as we add additional devices, like the Max LFO MIDI plugin to the device chain, you can begin to see how to build larger, more complex devices.
- Creating a default preset
- Creating richer sounds with oscillator tuning
- Using filters to sculpt sounds
- Shaping volume with amp envelopes
- Creating motion with filter modulation
- Creating different synth sounds, from saw bass to vintage lead