6. Lateral thinking
Lateral thinking makes big, complex sounds. Layering sounds works well for creating long, slow sounds, and can add extra punch to shorter sounds. In particular, for creating modulating, sweeping pad sounds try layering multiple patches with each one growing (attack) and disappearing (sustain) after each other.
7. Use multiple filters
Many modern synthesizers feature two independent filters (maybe even multimode), which can be used in a parallel or sequence arrangement. Experiment with both, especially by using unusual filter modes such as band pass and notch filters, and also with sending different oscillators to different filters. Don’t forget that external filter units can be an interesting effect on the end of a signal chain, particularly if they are of an analogue nature – making them useful to warm up digital sounds.
8. SFX Patches
Consider your options for SFX patches. The use of non-tonal oscillator waveforms are a key feature of ‘effects patches’, such as FM waveforms or noise sources. Self oscillation by filter resonance is also useful for creating sound effects, as is the proper use of envelopes and effects.
9. Try emulating the techniques of other synthesizers
Although this is a broad statement, think of the basic concepts of ideas such as wavetables – and then create that idea by setting an LFO to modulate the waveform of an oscillator. Another example would be to set all your oscillators to sine waves, and set them all octaves apart from each – a basic form of additive synthesis which is essential for organ sound emulation.
10. Do unique things with LFOs
LFOs aren’t supposed to be audible right? Wrong. Want to create an FM-style sound but don’t have the correct oscillator waveforms, then try setting an LFO to modulate the stereo-panning using a square wave, and set the rate as fast as you can – instant clangy overdrive! Don’t forget to make use of the ‘sample and hold’ function too, as it is overlooked far too often.
11. Check Your Presets
Ok, there’s just one extra tip…If you’re still out of ideas why not step through your onboard presets for inspiration. Remember that these patches were made by people who spent a considerable amount of time learning the architecture of the synth and want to demonstrate its special features. When you find a patch that you really like, dissect it and look at how the sound is made, then use that same technique on your own patches.