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Making Triple-Oscillator Patches
If you find all your instruments sounding like an Atari 2600 (unless that's what you were going for), these guidelines for creating patches that sound like familiar musical instruments or sounds will help you. These instructions are intentionally a bit vague, so you can easily adapt them to the type of music you want to write. When making patches, it often helps to have a the sound playing over and over as you edit.
You can do that either in BB track, set a loop in song-editor, or you can simply just use piano-roll.
Remember to listen to both short, long notes, and chords too!
When creating instruments with different generators, not just TripleOscillator patches, there are a few unwanted events that may occur. The most frequent problem is 'clicks'. The instrument sounds pretty much ok, but there's a distinct 'click' artifact every time the note plays. Clicks are annoying, but most can be easily removed. The start-event clicks are the easiest.
- Open the ENV for VOLUME.
- Set AMT to maximum.
- Set ATTACK to just a little over 0 (try 0.04)
Listen to the sound. If your click artefact didn't change just a little, then the click is from the 'termination' of the sound. Here the situation is more difficult. You may be able to remove the click by giving REL <= 0.05. Another annoying problem is 'noisy crater' randomly occurring in longer notes. This is often caused by too high Q in respect of either the cutoff-Frquency or the actual chosen filter. These type of artefacts can be seriously difficult to remove without changing the quality of the sound. Often success versus fiasco depends on minute alterations in Q.
An EQ can also be tried, if you have a 'hiss' in the output. The picture abow shows an envelope that will create a guitar or indeed a fast hit on a grand-piano type of sound. The sound will be maximal as the string is stroked, and then the loudness gradually decay.
To get an organ type of sound, add HOLD and remove the DECay.
You should experiment with the different instrumental expressions, different envelope settings can create! The general explanations for envelope-controls:
Attack: how long it takes to go from silence to the maximum volume. A drum and a piano usually have short attack times.
Decay: During the decay section the amplitude would decrease from the maximum level to some constant level. Drums have short decay times, a piano might have a slightly longer decay time and a horn longer still.
Sustain level: is a constant level that the sound maintains during the middle part of the sound.
Release: The release time is the time it takes the sound to fade from the sustain level to silence.
If you are not familiar with terms like LFO, filters and resonance-Q amount, you should now go to the section Working with Instruments and read the paragraph The Env/LFO/Filter tab. All the basics (and more) are explained there.
Next we will take a view on some well-known instruments, and the settings and addOns, that we can use, to get that special sound-output these specific instruments has.
We'll start with your basic synthesized techno bass sound, because this is a relatively simple patch to start learning your way around the Triple-Oscillator. Start with a fresh Triple-Oscillator with the default sine-wave patch.
- Start on the "PLUGIN" page and change the waveforms. Try some different combinations: a square, a triangle and a sine wave are a good combo, or set them all to saw or moog-saw.
- Select the "ENV/LFO" page. Turn the filter on to "LowPass", "2x LowPass" or "Moog" and turn the cutoff all the way down. Your sound becomes almost inaudible.
- Go to the "CUTOFF" subpage and turn the envelope on. Turn "Hold", "Sustain" and "Release" to zero. Hear the filter now?
- Now start playing with the resonance knob in the "FILTER" section. If you're using the Moog filter, don't turn the resonance past 0.84 - you've been warned!
- Now play some really low notes.
Real organs are basically additive synthesizers: they add together a few dozen simple sine waves to form a complex tone. This is pretty easy to mimic with the Triple-Oscillator and LMMS's chords.
- Start with a fresh sine patch, and using each oscillator's "Crs" (coarse-detune) knobs, place them in 3 different octaves. Remember: One octave equals 12 semitones!
- Go to the "FUNC" page and turn on chords. Set the chord to "Octave" and set "RANGE" to 3 or 4. Neat, eh?
- Play different chords. They sound similar, don't they? That's because most of the harmonics are the same.
- For some fun, change one of the oscillators to a triangle wave.
- You can refine the sound by changing which octaves each oscillator plays in, or by adjusting their relative volumes.
Electric bass guitars produce a wide variety of tones. This is just your basic bass with no overdrive or anything like that.
- Start with a sine patch and mute OSC 1. Turn OSC 2's volume to 100%.
- Set "OSC 2 + OSC 3" to PM (Phase Modulation)
- Turn on the volume envelope and give it a long decay, very short release and an attack around 1/50 or 1/20 of a second.
- Go to the "FX" page and add a TAP Chorus/Flanger effect. This adds an extra layer of richness to the sound.
- Now, go back to the "PLUGIN" page and decide where you want OSC 3's volume (that is, the amount of phase modulation between OSC 3 and OSC 2).
- Finally, reinforce the fundamental (lowest harmonic) of your sound by turning OSC 1 up just a bit. This is optional. Or you can use a triangle wave. Whatever, it's your sound.
Ok, this is going to sound weird to some, maybe. Why use triple osc to make a kickdrum? The answer: because you can. Also, because it can produce some pretty neat sounds! We're going to use a technique called substractive synthesis here. To make this tutorial easier to follow, I'm marking with [tags] which is the name of the tab you need to be on on the instrument window.
[Plugin] To start with, we'll make some noise. Set all the oscillators to produce white noise. The other settings don't matter at this point, as most of them don't have any effect on the noise generation. Then we'll move on to the Env/Lfo tab. That's where the magic happens.
[Env/Lfo] Here, we're going to set the volume envelope first. Here are good settings for it:
- Amt: 1 (full)
- Del: 0
- Att: 0
- Hold: 0
- Dec: 0.248
- Sus: 1
- Rel: 0
Ok, try it now. Right now you have a neat little snare drum, kind of a crappy one but still. But read onwards, let's make it into a good kick.
Enable the filter. Select the RC Bandpass (24dB) filter. It is important to pick the right filter, it won't work so well with the 12dB one, unless you want some weird kickdrum... Set the resonance to maximum and cutoff to minimum. (That is, 10.0 and 1hz, respectively). Now, the instrument should sound like a bass guitar that constantly plays the same note. But we're not done yet.
Go to the cutoff envelope, and set these values:
- Amt: 0.2
- Del: 0.02
- Att: 0
- Hold: 0.05
- Dec: 0.187
- Sus: 1
- Rel: 0
Now listen to the sound. It's a kick drum! How awesome is that? Now we can add some character to the sound. Go back to the plugin tab:
[Plugin] Now, set the first oscillator to saw wave, set the crs dial to -24, and try playing different notes (C3 - G4 are good). See how the character of the sound varies slightly! You can vary it further by adjusting the volume of the saw oscillator. Try detuning it with the FL/FR knobs. Turn the SPD knob up to give it some stereo effect. You can also try different waveforms to see how they affect the sound. You can even change the second oscillator, it's enough that there's one noise oscillator to produce enough frequencies to substract from. You can try all kinds of weird things now to create weird, cool and fun bass/kick drum sounds, and you have much more control and finetune over it than you have in Kicker.
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