This Fundamental Frequency Is an Illusion

All sound can be broken down into individual frequency components, and the lowest frequency component of a sound is called the “fundamental” (all the frequencies above that fundamental frequency are the “partials”). By cleverly setting the relationships of the amplitude and frequencies of the harmonic spectrum, though, you can trick your ear into hearing the pitch of a sound as an octave below the lowest frequency component.

Here, I’ve built a quick demo in Reaktor 6. Listen and see what you think.

More on additive synthesis here.

More Reaktor Tutorials here.

Are There Just 5 Types of Synthesis?

You can find a lot of lists out there on “Synthesis Techniques You Must Know!” These can be pretty compelling, but it can be helpful to take a broader look, and simplify synthesis into 5 big categories:

-Playback and Manipulation of Recorded Audio (Sampling and WT Synthesis)
-Additive Synthesis
-Subtractive Synthesis
-Distortion Synthesis and Modulation Synthesis, and
-Physical-Modeling Synthesis

By zooming out and thinking about these larger ideas, we make synthesis more accessible to people who are starting out, and we give a framework for people who are innovating new synthesis techniques.

0:00 Synthesis isn’t that complicated.
1:03 Five Categories for Synthesis Techniques
1:33 Playback and Manipulation of Recorded Audio
2:34 Additive Synthesis
2:52 Subtractive Synthesis
3:20 Distortion Synthesis (Modulation Synthesis)
4:08 Physical Modeling Synthesis
4:25 So What? / Hybrid Synthesis

More on fundamentals of synthesis here.