Join Scott Hirsch for an in-depth discussion in this video The universal language of synthesis, part of Synth Programming Basics.
The earliest synths began as giant machines that took up tons of space. These machines contained modular hardware components that were patched together with a tangle of cables. As synths grew smaller and folded into our favorite audio software, most of the names and functions of the modular components stuck with us and became much smaller. Needing to fit into a small graphic space on our computer screens. To the beginning synth user abbreviations and names of the parameters, as well as the functions they perform, can sometimes be cryptic and esoteric.
In this movie, I'll crack the code of the synth in some popular music making software. Just to show you that the concepts are really universal. Now, as you look at synths, we're mostly talking about the knobs and sliders we see on the screen. I'll refer to these as synth controls or parameters throughout this course. And they're all going to covered in detail as we progress. So don't worry if some of them sound foreign or scary to you right now. My main goal here is just to show you that these fundamental synth parameters all exist with slight name differences in our favorite softwares.
As we'll see, oscillators are the source of sound in our synthesis. They're where it all begins. Here in Logic, we have the Retro Synth which we'll be working in a lot in this course. And in Logic's Retro we have two oscillators we can control. They're right here. Oscillator one. And oscillator two. Now I'm going to pop over to Reason. In reason subtracter instrument, we also have oscillators. We have oscillator one, abbreviated osc1 and oscillator two abbreviated osc2. Now in Pro Tools we're going to be using the vacuum synth.
This also has oscillators. Here they're given the abbreviation VTO for Vacuum Tube Oscillator. VTO one controls are here, and VTO two the controls are here. Once the oscillators make their initial sounds, we can use filters to carve out the frequencies of our sound further. All synths will contain at least one filter section. Here is the filter area, it's called VTHPF for high pass filter, and VTLPF for low pass filter. So these two areas here are the filter sections of vacuum.
Now in Reason Subtractor, our filter exists over here. We have filter one and our frequency control here. And we have filter two, right next to it. In Logics Retro we have our filter section right in the middle and this is our filter here, we can control it visually with the parameters here. Another way to carve out our sound, only this time it's how our sound develops over time is with something called envelopes. All synths will have various envelope controls, which are most of the time marked with the initials ADSR. Standing for attack, decay, sustain and release.
You'll find the envelope section on Retro here. We have a filter envelope and you can see ATT for attack, decay DEC, SES for sustain and REL for release. And we also have an amplitude envelope. So these are our two envelopes in Retro. And to show you these envelopes exist in Reason, we have them here. Here's our filter envelope. There's our ADSR, as I mentioned earlier. And our amplitude envelope, ADSR there. And once more in vacuum, we have our envelopes one, ENV1 and ENV2.
And there's our ADSR controls. So it should be clear, from briefly perusing these three synths, synth instruments really are alike in a lot of ways. The only tricky part as we've is seeing how each different synth names and implements the parameters graphically. And as we begin to use these parameters, and learn conceptually what they do. You'll see that the language of the synth is truly a universal one and it can transcend any platform you're working in.