MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART > Music Gearheads Tech Talk

Pads from the waveform up...

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Gemini Ambience:
Hey everyone,

As I've been studying about subtractive synthesis, I've had one creature elude my knob-turning fingers: evolving pads/textures. I either get tones/sounds that are too "tinkly" or too "pale" when I try to create a drone or evolving texture. I'm at a loss.

Can anyone recommend a good tutorial or process that is essential to making rich, evolving textures and pads? I've been using Atmosphere from Spectrasonics until I can improve my own pads.

Thanks in advance for any advice!


If I were to recommend a method of creating rich, evolving pads, I would not start with subtractive synthesis, which seems to me better for more sterile, cleaner sounds... sometimes even metallic or bright or thing.

I have no doubt there will be others who speak up here and say "Not so, I create wonderful rich, gurgling, warm, ripe sounds with my K5000S" but to me, it's not the right tool for that sort of thing.

Mike - I think you're confusing subtractive with additive...  subtractive would be the big analogs of the 70's and 80's...  moogs, arps, early prophets, etc...

Gemini Ambience:
Okay...let me ask a few more specific questions.

Is it better to use a minimal number of oscillators versus maxing it out as far as your synth can go? Likewise, is the evolving characteristic of a nice drone or pad all LFO-controlled? My biggest hurdle is trying to make a pad soud soft and large...

Thanks again for any and all replies.  :)

"Soft and large" --- this is often a product of applied reverb.

So you'd get the tone and timbre you want with the osc's, and the slow lfo modulation to relieve the boredom, then run it through a fairly large reverb setting - large hall or cathedral with longish reverb, quite wet. This will tend to both soften all edges and expand the whole sound to fill the stereo sphere. It helps to use the best quality reverb to get a real smooth effect.

But multiple voices can also be used to make something large too. Keep the voices smallish so they don't overpower each other and pan them differently. ......... then slap on the reverb :)  Of course, choosing the voices carefully is an art.

Another approach is to duplicate your pad on another track (or tracks) and treat that a bit differently (effects) from the original pad. You can build up a richness and largeness that way.

Just some things that came to mind.


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