While working on a project recently, I realized that I needed a metal guitar riff to round out the arrangement. As fate would have it, my go-to guitarist, Shreddward (from the Bright Light Social Hour), was on tour. Since the deadline couldn’t wait, I realized I had to whip up the parts by hand using synths and effects. Naturally, I could have turned to a sample library for this, but I’m always up for a sound design challenge. So rather than rely on loops or a multi-sampled guitar, I decided to start from nothing and see what was possible. Within a few hours, I had some remarkably convincing parts that worked perfectly in the project. Here is the technique.
Filtering by Category: Ableton Live
Ableton’s Operator is incredibly powerful when it comes to FM and basic additive/subtractive techniques, but like several other additive softsynths, there’s no way to animate the harmonics for morphing effects. Fortunately, there’s a workaround that lets users create their own smoothly morphing harmonic structures. It just requires a few extra steps, but the result is shimmering, animated textures that are well-suited for unique pads and leads.
Although Ableton Live 10 is packed with workflow enhancements and impressive new effects (such as Echo and Pedal), the biggest news for sound designers is Wavetable, an impressive new approach to wavetable-based synthesis, with an interface that lets you see nearly every design and modulation element on a single screen.
In this tutorial, we’ll examine Wavetable's features in depth, along with a few additional tips from Ableton’s Lead preset designer and soundteam member Huston Singletary.
[Full disclosure: I designed many of the wavetables that are included with this synth.]
One of my biggest talks at this year’s Ableton Loop conference was an in-depth studio session on the details of FM synthesis. Having designed presets for Operator since before it was released in 2004, I can honestly say that I have an intimate relationship with its capabilities.
This masterclass for Electronic Musician revisits some of the topics from my Loop session - and goes deep into the possibilities of this powerful FM and additive synth. Enjoy!
With Ableton’s annual Loop conference coming this weekend, it seems like a good time to revisit Thump’s impressive feature on the history of this iconic software company. [Full disclosure: I have three speaking engagements on sound design this year at Loop.]
The interview is long and fairly detailed, but Ableton’s story is truly fascinating. Whether you’re a Live user or just curious about how software is developed and evolves, it’s a great read.
As Halloween approaches, I’m re-releasing the Scapes project “The Haunting” for Ableton fans looking for spooky sounds for their DJ sets or party atmospherics.
Originally posted in 2015, “The Haunting” got some attention from Ableton guru, AfroDJMac, who runs an amazing website for all things Live. Below is his video that describes the project in detail.
The project file is a free download from the Scapes page and requires Ableton Live with Operator or Suite functionality.
Here’s the link: https://www.francispreve.com/scapes/
With the launch of Scapes and a ton of questions about how FM synthesis works, I'm reposting a tutorial I wrote for KeyboardMag.com that explains FM in terms of analog synthesis.
It's fairly basic, but if you're new to FM, it's a good starting point for future exploration.
Here's the link: https://www.keyboardmag.com/how-to/1255/know-sound-design-revisiting-fm/