In the Spring I took Electronic Orchestration, a class focusing on synthesis and sound design. We would learn the fundamentals of sound, and after learning the basics, make our own patches. Up until then, we had to rely solely on preset banks, mindlessly browsing for sounds that fit. Presets are great, but if you want something specific, the search can be frustrating. Knowing the basics and tweaking can help a lot, but I wanted to be able to build sounds from the ground up.
Of all the cool classes I’ve gotten to take, I was most excited for Electronic Orchestration. Unfortunately, due to covid-19, we weren’t able to continue as planned. Our next step was supposed to be a deep dive into Native Instrument’s Massive, a virtual synthesizer, but since we weren’t in class, we didn’t have access to the school’s computers that had Massive installed. The class continued with a focus on mixing and mastering.
When the semester ended, I declared Summer 2020 Synth Summer! I would spend time each day learning about synthesis and practicing sound design. (This didn’t start until June because I was finishing up my Songs From Home EP which came out on May 30th). Once that project was done, I was eager get back into learning.
I began Synth Summer by browsing classes on Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com). I took Learning Synth Programming by Scott Hirsch, and then Massive Digital Synthesis by Evan Sutton. The first class refreshed the basics for me, and the second was the deep dive I’d been waiting for. I’ve had Massive for a couple years now, but my understanding of it was pretty basic. Most tutorials on YouTube are way too general, don’t explain what’s actually happening to the sound, and skip over settings and parameters entirely. There’s a ton of tutorials on making specific sounds, but they’re more on the side of telling you what to do, rather than explaining why these decisions are made. Massive Digital Synthesis is the perfect Massive class in my opinion, not only is everything explained, but you’ve given a lot of ideas to experiment with on your own.
I’m currently reading through Massive’s manual, and trying to take it all in. I’m far from an expert, but I’m improving and that’s exciting for me. If you want to hear sounds I’ve made, I have examples in this video, or you can listen to this remix (all the main synth sounds are mine). I’m excited to keep learning and making music!