Sources where to learn the basics

mrc

New Member
I'm fascinated by the world of synthesizers, especially the one concerning Eurorack and Modular Synths. But before I can even approach this rather complex topic, I would like to have some advice on where to learn the theory that underlies the world of synthesizers. Do you have any sources, both literary and online, to recommend? (not so much a guide to Eurorack and Modular Synths, as to something that allows me to address those topics later).

Thanks!
 

b_elliott

Member
Best response from a modular guru (not me) to a similar question: read the original Arp 2600 Owner's Manual.
It is extremely well written; has simple graphics to clarify key synth concepts.
After the first couple of chapters you'll click on why they go on and on about voltage control.
With that bedrock you can then venture far into the modular world.
VCV Rack (free) has vary capable artists/instructors such as Omri Cohen. There are many others.
Start with this link:
Cheers,
 
OP
M

mrc

New Member
Thanks! I'll do for sure!


Best response from a modular guru (not me) to a similar question: read the original Arp 2600 Owner's Manual.
It is extremely well written; has simple graphics to clarify key synth concepts.
After the first couple of chapters you'll click on why they go on and on about voltage control.
With that bedrock you can then venture far into the modular world.
VCV Rack (free) has vary capable artists/instructors such as Omri Cohen. There are many others.
Start with this link:
Cheers,
 

cuttime

Member
Best response from a modular guru (not me) to a similar question: read the original Arp 2600 Owner's Manual.
It is extremely well written; has simple graphics to clarify key synth concepts.
After the first couple of chapters you'll click on why they go on and on about voltage control.
With that bedrock you can then venture far into the modular world.
VCV Rack (free) has vary capable artists/instructors such as Omri Cohen. There are many others.
Start with this link:
Cheers,
That's a great resource. What a blast from the past!
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
But before I can even approach this rather complex topic, I would like to have some advice on where to learn the theory that underlies the world of synthesizers.
I haven't tried this myself, but it sounded useful:

 

ashh

Simple but effective.
+! for Syntorial.

I'm in the same ballpark as the OP. Tried Syntorial, didn't quite scratch that itch but that was me more than the software or the learning generally. I quite like learningmodular.com right now. Also, there are always sites like Groove 3, which our very own site's Deals, deals, deals! forum is advertising a free month of. For? From?

Um, I think, more than anything, I would say to get a synth, a free one is fine. Try Dexed, for starters. That's FM-based. Aaaand, we're off! Additive? Subtractive? As Queen Latifah once said, don't get me started.

Anyway, yes, get a synth and just keep going until you don't know what you're doing, then check out a tutorial on that. There is A LOT to synthesis, as I'm sure you're aware. I tried this approach (after a while) and it taught me that I knew nothing and couldn't use it. You do have to know something to try this approach. Otherwise you stop just after you start. But do try it as soon as possible, otherwise you're just learning stuff that you will forget without actually trying it.

Lastly, thanks for the thread. Learning a lot of new sources of info.
 

ashh

Simple but effective.
Here's a synthesiser learning question for the more knowledgeable amongst us (that's you, in case you were wondering): why does a lot of the teaching around sound synthesis begin with the creation of a sound wave?

I know that it is because the sound wave is what we will be manipulating, whenever we make a noise with a synthesiser, but how does it help me? I am a visual learner but still, once that sound wave gets going, I'm not looking at it and thinking "AHA! That's what a 1500HZ wave looks like when I add some more Nodwangle, a squiggly top is probably what I need next.

When I'm 15 turns of the knobs down the road from that, I don't have a shape in mind. So what is it with teaching me about it? I'm asking because, clearly, it's a foundation stone of sound synthesis that I'm not getting.
 
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ashh

Simple but effective.
I have considered my above question and wonder if the answer is somewhere around the '15 turns of the knobs' mark?

That's where my understanding of synthesis and I have parted company, more precisely, on step 2 or 3. Perhaps if I go back to step 2 or 3 and take more time learning what happens to get to step 4 and so on, then sound waves will seem more useful?

I'm getting more comfortable with learning as I grow older. Or as my brain's plasticity diminishes. I was taught that the worst crime on earth is for an idea not to fly into the world in it's final form. Mistakes were for idiots. Now? I love making mistakes.

Back to the sounding board.
 

bill5

Senior Member
Mixed feelings about Syntorial. It does have a lot, but it kind of reminds me of piano teachers who insist on you playing scales and other exercises about 98% of the time and playing actual songs 2%, teaching as if you could be the next Beethoven and if you don't practice 23 hrs a day you'll never get anywhere. For ex. showing the diff between a sine wave and a square or saw tooth is all well and fine, but they get so far in the weeds about it to every little nuance, and those exercises...thank goodness I found out how to skip around. I'd much rather a tutorial that brings up a more or less typical synth on the screen with ocs, filters, envelope, stuff like that, and that steps you though them, explaining what you really care about...just basically what it is and how it can impact the sound (with immediate examples after the explanation) vs a lot of electronic techno-speak which is often TMI for a beginner (and at times unnecessary and uninteresting, beginner or not).
 

Rasoul Morteza

Universal Scoring
Best response from a modular guru (not me) to a similar question: read the original Arp 2600 Owner's Manual.
It is extremely well written; has simple graphics to clarify key synth concepts.
After the first couple of chapters you'll click on why they go on and on about voltage control.
With that bedrock you can then venture far into the modular world.
VCV Rack (free) has vary capable artists/instructors such as Omri Cohen. There are many others.
Start with this link:
Cheers,
To add a note regarding elliott's suggestion, having some background in math/physics/electronics will help you a lot in understanding the text. Take that into consideration.

Cheers
 
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gfd

New Member
You may want to check this out. This tutorial course is about listening to different types of patches and reverse engineering them, to understand how they're constructed. It's on Groove3: Reverse Engineering Synth Sounds Explained
 

AmbientMile

Active Member
...having some background in math/physics/electronics will help you a lot in understanding the text...

Cheers
Very true. When I graduated high school, I started taking Sound Engineering courses at my local college. Lots of electronics classes to start. When I ran out of money to continue that, I joined the Air Force and had very in depth electronics instruction there. While I was in tech school, I really started to understand my synths that I had been randomly twisting knobs on for years. :laugh:
 

ashh

Simple but effective.
Very true. When I graduated high school, I started taking Sound Engineering courses at my local college. Lots of electronics classes to start. When I ran out of money to continue that, I joined the Air Force and had very in depth electronics instruction there. While I was in tech school, I really started to understand my synths that I had been randomly twisting knobs on for years. :laugh:
Can you explain a bit more about how the electronics instruction helped grow your understanding of synths?

As we're in engineering territory, here' s something from Sonic State with a couple of Moog engineers. They're talking about building the Matriarch. I found it quite interesting that they refer to soundwaves so often.

 
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AmbientMile

Active Member
Can you explain a bit more about how the electronics instruction helped grow your understanding of synths?
In basic electronics, you learn about voltage, current, resistance and many other things related to "electron flow" so to speak. My first synth was a Yamaha CS5 that I got around 1980ish. The panel had controls that might as well have been in a different language. Terms like VCA, VCF, LFO, Cutoff and such. As a kid, I couldn't be bothered to read the manual, so I just twisted knobs and listened to what they did. That worked okay, and I could get to what I wanted eventually. But when studying electronics, I started to understand what those controls really were and how they worked in the signal path. But that was MY experience. I have quite a few friends who are very competent in sound design and don't know a resistor from a capacitor. ;)

That's what I like about Syntorial. It starts at the very start and gets your ears and brain to understand signal path and each component of subtractive synthesis. Syntorial does start painfully easy, but it will challenge you after awhile if you are new to synthesis.