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3. Dark, layered atmospheres with Operator and Dune CM
1 Dark atmospheres are a staple of cinematic scores, so let’s create one from scratch using Live’s Instrument Rack. Create a new MIDI channel, drop in an Instrument Rack and drag in an instance of Operator. We’re going to use Operator in subtractive synthesis mode, so click the oscillator routing icon and select the option on the far right (four squares in a row). 2 First, we need to set up the waveforms and envelopes. Select Oscillator A and set its waveform to Saw D. In the Envelope section, change the Attack to 1100ms and Release to 4000ms. Finally, drop the pitch of the oscillator by turning the Coarse dial to 0.5, and widen the sound out by turning the Spread control up to 100%. 3 Now head to Oscillator B: set Coarse to 2 and Level to -8dB. Tune the oscillator up in pitch by raising the Fine control to 500. Set the waveform to Saw D, the envelope Attack to 3000ms and its Release to 4000ms. This is a good time to pull the master Volume down to -15dB to give us some headroom. 4 Set Oscillator C’s Wave to Noise White and push the Level up to -14dB. Smooth things off by pulling the Filter
Freq down to 1.3kHz, and move the Res control to 45%. Also, set the Freq<Key control to 50%. This opens the filter as we go up the keyboard (known as filter tracking) so we can hear the higher keys when we play them. 5 Head to the LFO and turn it on. In the Dest. A section, deselect button A. This disconnects oscillator A from the LFO. We don’t want smooth, repeating movements, so change the LFO from Sine to Noise in the dropdown. Next, set the
Rate to 90 and the Amount to 40%. 6 Create a new chain in the Instrument Rack, drop in Dune CM and initialise the patch by clicking the Bank B button. Turn the Osc Mix control to 50% and thicken the sound by turning the two Fat dials to 100%. Next, let’s select the waveforms. On Oscillator 1, hit the Sel button and select waveform 05. On Oscillator 2, select waveform 19. 7 We need to tune both oscillators to a different pitch. On Oscillator 1, turn the Semi dial up to +1. On Oscillator 2, move it to +7. To set up the modulation, click the Mod Matrix 1>12 button in the central panel. In slot 2, select the source as LFO1, amount to +60 and destination to Pitch Fine. 8 In slot 3, select the source as LFO 2, amount to +45 and the destination to Filter Cutoff. This needs to sound random, so change the shape of LFO 2 to Noise. In the filter section, pull the Cutoff down to 65% to give the LFO room. Now head to the Amp Envelope and change Attack and Release to 80%. 9 Now we can add effects. Drop Ableton’s Simple Delay after the effects chain and turn the Feedback up to
50%. Finally, drop in a Reverb and turn the Decay Time up to 8.00s. Try playing a dissonant chord which would normally seem a little ‘off’. For this type of sound, the darker the better!