Beginner's Guide to Synthesis
With the huge range of synthesisers available today, comprising both DAW factory instruments and 3rd party synth plugins, a knowledge of how to use them is an essential part of modern production. This course aims to give you all of the fundamental skills and confidence to tackle sound design with any synthesiser with ease, to enable easier patch editing and creation of your own presets from scratch.
The tutorials work through all of the main sections of a synth, including oscillators, filters, envelopes, LFOs, arpeggiators and more, explaining the function and control set of each one. To make the course as universal as possible, a wide range of synths are featured in the tutorials, with many of the most popular synth plugins and DAW built-in instruments shown.
The tutorials are punctuated with white board demonstrations, to help convey the main synthesising principles, combined with numerous examples of patch creation every step of the way. Students will learn how much can be done with relatively little on a synth, whilst also absorbing a wealth of techniques that will provide a solid foundation for designing many different types of sound. Although the course is primarily aimed at beginners, due to the technical nature of sound design, the level is mostly intermediate with an occasional foray into more advanced territory in one or two places!
Signing up to the course provides immediate access to 3 hours of streamed tutorials, as well as an included assessment, to provide some interactive feedback on students’ synthesising knowledge. As with all Producertech courses, free sample module(s) are available to enable viewing of excerpts before signing up, for an example of the course style and content, which will have you mastering synthesis in no time!
Sample Module - Making a sweeping pad preset
Module 1 - Introduction
Rob introduces the course, with an overview of the basics of synthesis, explaining the structure and main sections on a synth, with audio examples along the way. Then, he provides a demonstration of how oscillators can be layered to create different sounds.
Lesson 1 - What is synthesis? 04.10
Lesson 2 - Layering Oscillators 04.09
Module 2 - Waveforms Demo
A guide to the main types of waveform available in most oscillators, how they sound and what they are normally used for.
Module 3 - Oscillators
A thorough look at the foundations of the synthesiser, the sound-generating oscillators, beginning by working through the basic controls and then exploring additional features that are commonly found.
Lesson 1 - Oscillator Controls I - Waveform and Tuning 05.11
Lesson 2 - Oscillator Controls II - Blending, Sync and Unison 09.00
Module 4 - Designing with Oscillators I
2 examples of patch creation using only the oscillators, one that shows how to create intervals and chords and another showing how to make a detuned patch.
Lesson 1 - Creating Chord and Interval Patches 04.30
Lesson 2 - Creating Detuned Patches 05.03
Module 5 - Designing with Oscillators II
2 further examples of patch design using just the oscillators with increasing complexity, layering multiple waveforms together and combining many of the techniques introduced so far on the course.
Lesson 1 - Simple Layered Patch 04.18
Lesson 2 - Layered Bass with Unison 05.51
Module 6 - Filters
A guide to filtering on a synth, explaining the most important considerations and unique aspects of filtering presets.
Lesson 1 - Filters Overview 03.35
Lesson 2 - Serial and Parallel Filtering 03.00
Lesson 3 - Filter Routing & Keytrack 06.54
Lesson 4 - Filter Blend 03.58
Module 7 - Envelopes
An introduction to a fundamental part of synthesis, the ADSR envelope, beginning by looking at the amplitude and then filter envelope.
Lesson 1 - Amplitude Envelope 07.32
Lesson 2 - Filter Envelope 05.20
Module 8 - Classic Envelope Patch Design
Two examples of using filter enveloping to create classic synth presets.
Lesson 1 - Simple Pluck 02.39
Lesson 2 - Old School Mwarp Bass 03.43
Lesson 3 - Emerging Pad 04.56
Mod 9 Quick Simple Synth Focus - Maschine’s Bass Synth
A look at a cutdown synth, to emphasise the most important controls seen so far on the course, and show how much can be done with a relatively limited control set.
Module 10 - LFO Modulation
How LFOs work on a synth, beginning with an overview and then walking through the creation of a popular LFO-modulated synth preset, the wub wub bass, before showing how to modulate pulse width and the sound it creates.
Lesson 1 - LFO Modulation Explained 08.21
Lesson 2 - Wub Wub Bass 05.28
Lesson 3 - Pulse Width Modulation 02.52
Module 11 - Pitch Modulation
A guide to modulating the pitch of synth presets, including both envelope and LFO modulation. The last 2 lessons then show how to design 2 classic pitch-modulated sounds, a sub bass drop FX and kick drum patch.
Lesson 1 - Pitch Envelope 06.09
Lesson 2 - LFO Pitch Modulation 04.00
Lesson 3 - Sub Bass Drop Patch 02.49
Lesson 4 - Kick Drum 01.52
Module 12 - Sequencers & Arpeggiators
A demonstration of additional modulators and sequencers found on synths, including complex curve modulators, step sequencers and arpeggiators.
Lesson 1 - Sequencers 06.12
Lesson 2 - Arpeggiator 04.43
Module 13 - Effects
Some general tips for using effects to process synth presets.
Module 14 - Common Synth Settings
Some brief tutorials explaining fundamental synth settings, for creating performance effects and patch characteristics.
Lesson 1 - Monophonic/Polyphonic 01.56
Lesson 2 - Portamento/Glide 01.13
Lesson 3 - Legato 02.33
Lesson 4 - Velocity 03.05
Lesson 5 - Key-tracking 01.20
Lesson 6 - Pitchbend 01.26
Lesson 7 - Aftertouch 01.29
Rob is a classically trained musician, with piano as his primary instrument, and obtained a degree in music and sound recording (the prestigious Tonmeister course) from the University of Surrey. Having honed his skills both at University and in the studios in London where he worked in a technical role, he began releasing music on labels like Lot49, Dead Famous and Erase, under the artist name Anarchy Rice. Rob has been at the forefront of music software training since the very beginning, having kicked things off at Focusrite back in 2006. With both classical music and technical sound qualifications, as well as a wealth of presenting experience, he is ideally suited to the role of an online music trainer, and is 100% dedicated to sharing his knowledge and assisting others with what he believes to be one of the most rewarding things in life - making music!