Tagged: synths

Quick Tip: Get to Know Your Gear

Photo by Matt Brock ☼

I was reading a back issue of Sound on Sound last night and I came across this nugget in an article profiling songwriter and producer Alex Da Kid:

“Every month or every two months I’ll take another soft synth, and I’ll read the manuals and I’ll watch the YouTube videos on it, and I’ll go really deep into it. I may create a whole track just using that one synth.”

It occurred to me that we all probably need to do this. I know I do. I read magazines like Sound on Sound and lust after all the pretty new software and gear when I don’t really know how to use half of what I already own. I mean really know it. Sure, I can fire up presets on my virtual Moog Modular or OSCar and tweak them a bit, but I can’t quickly program a patch from the ground up on either one.

Just the other day I was trying to find the perfect drum beat for a project and realized to my dismay how poorly I knew all the beats I had on hand (and I have a lot). What I need is a library of MP3s with all my beats in various categories: Shuffle, Swing, Half-Time, Straight, Funky, etc. Not only will that enable me to audition beats quickly but the process of creating the library will make me much more familiar with what I own. Sure, it will take time, but it will save more when I really need it—when I’m on a deadline.

Consider adopting Alex Da Kid’s policy and dive into one of your underused pieces of gear every month or two. Read the manual. Watch some tutorials. Use it in a few pieces—without touching the presets. Having more than one or two go-to synths, delays or beat generators will be a great help when you’ve got three hours to compose a masterpiece. Remember, if you can really impress your client with your speed and talent you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the next gig.

Free Stuff for the New Year

Native Instruments has just released Skanner, a new wave-scanning synthesizer for Reaktor and Reaktor Player. It’s a pretty incredible little sound-mangling tool, especially considering it’s FREE. Skanner seems more suited to sound-mangling than anything else, making it a sound-designer’s dream, but it is possible to get it to make pretty music if you’re careful. One of the coolest features is the ability to morph between two presets, and even modulate the morphing with an LFO. If you don’t own Reaktor. you can still use Skanner with the free Reaktor Player.

In that spirit, here are a few other freebies out there on the Interwebs. Enjoy, share, etc., and if you like them, be sure to buy some actual products from the generous vendors:

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