General Synth guides?

February 8, 2009 10:42 PM

I recently got a copy of Korg DS-10, a synth emulator, how can I get it to make more than a handful weird sounds?

I have a Nintendo DS and a passing interest in electronic music. When I discovered that a version of the Korg MS-10 synthesizer was ported to the Nintendo DS I was estatic and bought it.

I seem to have hit a brick wall, creatively. Often I just boot it up with an idea for a sound I want to make, but I have trouble getting there. Then I get a different sound, and I'll say to myself "oh, that sounds nice once but when you loop it a bajillion times it sounds really annoying."

Beyond messing with it and reading the manual, are there any guides online on how to conduct actual music with this thing?
posted by hellojed (11 comments total)

I don't think an MS-10 has a really wide range of sounds. Well i used to have an Ms-20 and it was only useful for a few different sorts of Sounds, (and mostly just dirty lead lines.)

There are standard ways to do a lot of things with a basic subtractive synth architecture: ie "Synth Strings", "Synth Horn/ Trumpet", Bass, Oragan etc..

it shouldn't be too hard to find patch descriptions on the internet.
posted by mary8nne at 6:09 AM on February 9, 2009

Apparently I was looking for "Patch Sheets" which I didn't know existed but are exactly what I needed.
posted by hellojed at 9:27 PM on February 9, 2009

"oh, that sounds nice once but when you loop it a bajillion times it sounds really annoying."

Don't loop it a bajillion times. It's like the old joke... Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Doctor: "So don't DO that!" Any loop gets old. So, at the very least, process it, filter it, break it up, add and subtract... you know, all the basic stuff one does with loop-based music.

Otherwise, I don't know this particular synth, so, as far as specifics... I got nuthin'.

Good luck!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 AM on February 10, 2009

Hmm, I don't know that there's a lot of formal writing out there on how to use a synth. I think synthesizer users tend to be "knob twiddlers" and not inclined to document the process.

It's possible that you're using a limited piece of software. I'm not familiar with the one you mentioned. You might look into downloading trial versions of things like FL Studio, Ableton Live, and other packages known to be easy to use.

My fave is of course Ableton Live. I bought their $150 LE package and have been in love ever since. It's intuitive and powerful. I was making interesting sounds within hours of starting to mess with it.

Have fun!
posted by wastelands at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2009

If you haven't already, figure out how to use its sequencer and how to save the sounds/instruments that you create. I don't know how to do it on the DS but that's what I needed to learn to use my korg keyboard/synth.

That should be enough for you to compose songs.

Here is a sample of what the sucker (your DS) can do.
posted by snsranch at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2009

I hate to point out wasteland - but Ableton live is _not_ a Synthesizer and does not really address the OP at all.
posted by mary8nne at 5:35 AM on February 16, 2009

mary8nne, did I write that Ableton Live was a synthesizer? No, I did not. Ableton Live is a DAW which includes the Operator synthesizer within its set of tools.

BTW, it's wastelands, not wasteland.
posted by wastelands at 10:14 PM on February 23, 2009

A couple of things to consider-
- Firstly, you can load different patches for different patterns in your song, so you're not restricted to just two blips or bloops per tune, just two per pattern.
- Secondly, you can load different patches into the drum kits. The drums are more inflexible than the synths, and you're restricted to one patch for the whole song. But if you're itching to get a third tone in the mix, load it into a drum you don't use often. This is best suited for one-shot tones. These are also tunable.
-Thirdly, while the X-Y pad is restricted to four-bar, sixteen-note loop per pattern, the oscillators are not. That means, in the SYNTH PATCH screen, you can set the MG WAVE FREQ dial way, way down and let the sound evolve over multiple measures. The MG WAVE FREQ can be patched to all sorts of functions - play with it. You'll always be limited to really, really simple synthesis, but even simple synthesis is capable of a wide range of tones when patched well.
-Fourthly, the X-Y pad can be patched to a number of different functions, like VCO tuning, waveshape, and oscillator balance.

A quick google search for "subtractive synthesis tutorial" will give you more than enough gristle to chew on. I can't recommend a specific tutorial, but unless you end up somewhere really weird they'll all tell you the same basic information. Once you've got a good notion of how the signals are processed, you're off and running.
posted by lekvar at 6:45 PM on March 3, 2009

Honestly, I think your biggest problem is probably just that you're using the DS-10. It's fun, but the sequencer is pretty useless unless you're really into repetition. Just about anything will get annoying if it's looped in a 16-beat pattern long enough.

The DS-10 is a good way to learn about how synths work, though, especially since the interface spells out some things that soft synths mostly take for granted (like the back panel with the patch cables, etc.). I would suggest just working through some subtractive-synthesis tutorials with the DS-10 and then moving up to entry-level computer tools like FL Studio.
posted by revfitz at 2:43 AM on March 9, 2009

PS good gosh mary8anne, did Ableton collectively crap on your dog or something? The last two threads I looked at you've been complaining about them, and it hardly seems like they deserve it.
posted by revfitz at 2:47 AM on March 9, 2009

Don't loop it a bajillion times... Any loop gets old

The hell you say.
posted by nanojath at 9:56 PM on March 30, 2009

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