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.

Asymmetrical Clipping in Pure Data

Asymmetrical clipping is clipping (truncation of a waveform), where the positive and negative amplitude peaks of a waveform are clipped to different values. This means we could clip the negative at -1, and the positive at -0.8 for example, and create some interesting harmonics.

This asymmetrical clipping is common in guitar effect pedals, since it’s relatively cheap to accomplish in electronics (with a few diodes). Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty easy to accomplish in Pd too, just using the [clip~] object. The fun part comes in deciding how we can use it musically.

Making a Wavefolder in Reaktor 6 Primary

In this week’s video, we make a wavefolder in Reaktor, slowly adding features, and testing out some different types of waveforms.

It’s not terribly effective to filter sine waves, since they only consist of a single frequency, but, using a wavefolder, we can add harmonics, and create a rich, customizable sound.

Wavefolding is distortion of a waveform where, when the input amplitude exceeds a threshold, it becomes inverted. This adds harmonics to the sound (specifically odd harmonics), and, by controlling the amount of fold, we can modulate these in real time.