Join Evan Sutton for an in-depth discussion in this video Percussion programming, part of FM8: Frequency Modulation.
Now, I'd like to do some percussion programming. Percussion programming is something that is not always easy, but it's really rewarding, and it's really cool to come up with some new, interesting percussion sounds using a synthesizer. Not everyone does it, it's not for everyone, but it's a really great skill to have and it's something worth experimenting with sometimes. So to get us started, I've put down a really simple pattern, using just the INIT patch on FM8, here it is. Here it is with some drums.
(drums) So this could be a lot of different things. I think we're gonna start out with something more of a snare drum-type sound, but, I'm gonna show you were to find a couple of things that will make percussion programming a lot easier. OK, first of all, we're gonna go over and let's adjust the amplitude envelope. (drum beat) Now it may not stay this way, but, it makes it feel a little more percussive right off the bat.
The next thing we're gonna do is go over to our pitch tab and take a look at our pitch envelope, we have the ability to use this envelope to modulate the pitch and doing a really quick pitch slide is a great way to create a really percussive transient. So I'm gonna go ahead and raise the beginning part of the envelope, and let's get the node going so it just drops, and the end of the envelope follows where you put the beginning of it, so I'm just gonna make this as long as I can so we don't hear it coming back up in the release.
Now, this envelope is really simple. Where these squares are at in the middle, as you can see says level at the bottom, these break points that are at the level zero are representing the fundamental pitch that you're actually playing on your keyboard. So they're not modulating the pitch at all. As we move these break points up and down, that's when we get the pitch modulation. So, let's take a listen. (drum beat) So we can hear it a little bit, but we have to turn up the amplitude of the envelope to really feel it. (drum beat) We can do a lot.
So if we shorten our envelope, (drum beat) And sort of accentuate the pitch, we've got kind of an electro-funk percussion sound. (funk drum beat) ♫ ♫ But what I might want to do, is actually go ahead and drop this down a little bit, and just use it to create more of a snare-type sound.
So that's where we're getting the knock of it. ♫ ♫ OK, now let's bring in another operator. Make it a little more complex. Not too much. (beat gets lower) And we could even link their envelopes. Let's try that, here's F.
OK, that's nice. (beat continues) OK, so that's a really good start. Now, we need that snare part of the snare. And a noise burst in a frequency modulating synthesizer is a great way to get a nice percussive transient, or to add to that percussive transient that we've already created. So I'm gonna go ahead and activate X, and if we don't have any signal going into X but rather we route it back through some of our operators we're just gonna hear the noise that we're using, in fact, we can just listen to it like so.
And we have an envelope here. OK, and we have a low pass filter by default on the noise generator, so we can really adjust the overall timbre of that noise. So now let's take this thing, let's put it back through F and see what we get: (drum beat) Oh! ♫ ♫ What about the other way around? What will that feel like? Maybe not quite the same, especially with that saturater we've got there.
But I like that a lot. And to lengthen the overall sound, well we need to lengthen the release of our carrier. ♫ ♫ And to really drive the point home, let's put it through the filter and let's put it into high pass mode, just using one filter, filter number one, no modulation, let's just use the resonance bump to give it a little bit of extra oomph in the bottom end.
Not too much. Here's with, here's without. You can even mix 'em a little bit. ♫ ♫ That's really nice, let's go back to our pitch here, let's use velocity to modulate the overall pitch modulation. Let's use a little velocity modulation with our noise generator.
♫♫ Keep in mind, when you first turn up these velocity knobs, it will often raise the overall mount of modulation right off the bat, so you have to compensate for that in the FM matrix. So this is cool where it is, this is kind of a realistic snare sound, I like it very much. And if we go over to our master section, we turn up the output volume, and make it a little louder, ♫♫ see how it sounds with the drums, ♫ kind of snazzy and old-school sounding.
But if we start to mess with our pitches, we can come up with some really interesting stuff. ♫ ♫ What about a little feedback? ♫ ♫ A little distorted, that's kind of nice. ♫ ♫ A little more metallic...
♫ ♫ You could even make it higher pitched. ♫ ♫ It's totally up to you, perhaps we will... stick with our snare drum, for now.
But as you can see, there's a lot to be done, there's a lot of stuff to try here, maybe that's a little too much on the bottom end, there we go, I like that a lot, that's really working for me. ♫ ♫ Cool, here it is with the whole band: (music plays) ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ There we go.
Maybe just a little lower. Like I said, it's totally up to you, there's so many possibilities here, there's so many different types of sounds that you can make, especially with electronic percussion, there really are no rules. All that matters is that the sound you are making fits the music that it's going to be playing.
- What is frequency modulation?
- Reviewing the FM8 routing matrix
- Harmonics, partials, and waveforms
- Using operators
- Percussion programming
- Programming with the Arpeggiator