Building inspiration into a synth preset
Designed to encourage change and movement, this strategy for inspiration can unravel complex arrangements in a flash It helps to cast your eye forward to the job of arrangement right from the beginning of the sound design process. If your sounds are built to alter and morph in interesting ways, you’ll never get stuck for ideas when you need to develop that initial idea into a concept that unfolds organically. In this tutorial, we’re going to start with a sequenced synth patch we created for FM317’s Cutting-Edge Synth Power cover feature. Not only is this riff a great starting point for a progression, but it’s also crammed full of macro assignments that can be automated over time. If you’re a Massive user, you can grab the preset from vault.futuremusic.co.uk and fire it up for yourself.
Rhythmically, we’re using a 50/50 blend of two of Massive’s Performer modulators to sequence various parameters, including oscillator level and wavetable amounts. By assigning the crossfade amount of the two Performers to a macro, we create different rhythms and grooves with the twist of one knob.
For timbral variation, we’ve set up macros to govern comb filter mix, feedback/ overdrive, bitcrusher mix, oscillator 2 level and noise amount. Subtle shifts in tone and character throughout different sections of a track can subtly (or substantially) shift the listener’s perspective of a seemingly repetitive sound.
Swamping a synth sound in reverb is a common trick for building momentum. By assigning Massive’s Reverb Size and Dry/Wet parameters to a macro knob, then automating this up at the end of eight- or 16-bar sections, the dry synth is coated in ambience that can then be pulled back down again.