9. Syn­the­sis­ing an FM bass sound with FM-4

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Bitwig Studio 2 8-Track -

1 It’s time to make a bass sound us­ing 8-Track’s FM-4, a four-op­er­a­tor FM synth. Load it on a new In­stru­ment Track. In the cen­tre ma­trix, mo­du­la­tors are rep­re­sented across the top, and des­ti­na­tions are stacked ver­ti­cally. By de­fault, Osc 1 is be­ing mod­u­lated by it­self and Osc 2 – turn both down to 0 to start from scratch.

2 We only hear Osc 1’s pure sine wave. In the right­most ver­ti­cal mixer, only Osc 1 (red) is be­ing sent to the out­put – turn up Osc 2 (yel­low) too, and you’ll hear it play an oc­tave higher. We can con­trol each os­cil­la­tor’s Ra­tio by ad­just­ing the top num­ber for each – re­duce both Osc 1 and 2’s Ra­tio val­ues down to 0.50.

3 Turn Osc 2’s out­put Mix level all the way down again to si­lence it. In the mod ma­trix, turn the amount by which Osc 1 is be­ing mod­u­lated by Osc 2 up to 250 or so. The in­audi­ble Osc 2 is now mod­u­lat­ing the audi­ble Osc 1. To give each note more length, head to the am­pli­tude en­ve­lope (bot­tom) and in­crease AEG Re­lease to 39.

4 This sounds a bit static, so let’s mod­u­late the in­audi­ble Osc 2’s level with a new en­ve­lope. We click on the top + and choose ADSR from a list of mo­du­la­tors. Be­low, our new en­ve­lope is an ar­row which is used to choose its tar­get. Click it, find the Mod ar­row for Osc 2, and turn it fully clock­wise.

5 Click the ar­row again, and our en­ve­lope is as­signed. Turn that same Mod knob all the way down. The en­ve­lope will now con­trol it. Let’s click the en­ve­lope to open its editor. Re­duce Sus­tain to 0, and in­crease the Re­lease. Decay should be at about 50. Now we’ve got a much nicer, ‘donkier’ bass sound.

6 Let’s get Osc 3 in on the ac­tion, us­ing the same tech­niques we used for Osc 2. How­ever, this time, we’ll have Osc 3 mod­u­late Osc 2 in the rout­ing win­dow. We’ll also set its Ra­tio to 1.00. We’ll add an­other ADSR to mod­u­late its Mod level and tweak it to taste. The re­sult is a lovely, 90s-style FM bass sound.

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