Dream Pad

The music in the first soundtrack was created using a VST I created within Ableton itself.  I will create a series of images below and explain each one to describe what each parameter does and how it affects the sound.  The base instrument is called Operator and works by giving you 4 oscillators and the ability to manipulate them.  Below is the First panel on the instrument.  On the left, working from right to left, we see the 4 oscillators marked A to D.  As you can see the last one is not active.  The knobs which say ‘Level’ refer to volume essentially, so A will be the loudest and B will be quieter and C will be quietest.  The next toggle is an on/off switch marked ‘Fixed’, which is only toggled on oscillator C, meaning that regardless of macro controls and changing of parameters the level and tone of this oscillator will not change.  On oscillator A and B, we can see the last two parameters are coarse and fine, which change the frequency of the oscillator.  The coarse control changes the frequency quite drastically whereas the fine control only changes it by a small amount of frequency.  So here we can see that oscillator B is only slightly higher in pitch than oscillator A.  On oscillator C the frequency has been pumped up really high, this creates the really low lows and really high highs that we hear when we hear this instrument.  The next black panel shows the style of wave that each oscillator will play.  A and C are sine waves, and B is a “User created wave” which was a truncated stepped sine wave.  The envelope form of the waves are displayed at the top of the black box, this shows the ADSR of the waves, and they all are the same for each wave.  The sound builds up slowly to a peak and fades away slowly, with a very long decay.  On the right we see a stack of 4 boxes all changing the sound in a different way.  The top is a low frequency oscillator (LFO), an LFO is a low frequency which creates a rhythmic pulse created by a frequency less than 20 Hz.  The LFO is activated, shown by the orange box on the left.  It is a sine wave and the L stands for Low.  The rate shown is the amount of oscillation that the sine wave does in a minute and the amount is how much wet signal will be applied to the sound, very low at 8.7%.  Is you click on this section also, you will be  informed that the LFO is only affecting oscillator A and B.  The next box down is a filter box which is also activated, the two knobs at the right can show you that the resonant frequency is at 1.63 kHz, and the next knob is how loud the resonant frequency will be, which is a boost of 4.99 decibels filtered through a 12 band low frequency filter.  The next box below that is an pitch frequency oscillator, also applied only to oscillators A and B.  This here shows that the pitch can fluctuate down at least 12 semitones, and the spread is a dry/wet control.  Meaning that you hear both the initial tone and the fluctuated tone down 12 semitones at the same time.  This brought the really deep subby tones to the instruments that I was looking for.  The last box here shows the order these waves are played in.  The coloured boxes correspond to the coloured boxes which represent each oscillator, this particular pattern plays oscillator B and C separately and A is played afterwards in combination with both of these combined.  The tone knob is what most modern keyboard instruments would call a ‘Brightness’ knob, which works as a stereo widener and harmonic exciter.  And lastly, the volume knob, is the volume of the instrument pre fader.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 14.00.45

Shown below here is the audio effects which are applied to the sound.  The first box here is a sound erosion effect.  This is a really nice effect to add another layer of harmonic tension to the piece, it is a slightly distorted sound added to certain frequencies to excite them.  This eroder is working on 2.03 kHz here almost on full volume, but the width of the sine wave is very small at 0.46, so it is very subtle.  The next effect is a disharmonic delay effect.  This works as a delay but instead of delaying the notes being played it delays back a note which is dissonant to the piece.  This really brings the scratchy noises to the forefront of the sound that we are hearing.  At the bottom there we can see that the feedback is up full which means that the effect is very harsh, and the dry wet signal is at roughly halfway.  Meaning that we will hear both the original sound and also the affected sound at the same volume.  Next in the chain is a saturator effect.  This is being used here primarily to bring a wider, warmer sound to the the bass end of the frequencies for the instrument.  Making the sub bass sounds a lot more louder in the ears.  Making the harmony of screeching highs and low subs work really well together.  The final piece of the chain is a noise reduction effect.  Just like in a guitar pedal chain, the more effects you add in the more that you will need to reduce the background noise that will be created.  This reduction is just a lot nicer, to get rid of background noise in the audio signal chain, making the instrument a lot clearer.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 16.22.06

After the MIDI has been printed to an audio track, there was a compressor added to bring a bit more bite to the audio.  It just added a little bit more warmth and boost to the track when it needed it.  The audio track in isolation can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/svrdophobia/soundtrack-one-vst

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