Creating percussion sounds from scratch with FM synthesis
Let’s explore using FM synthesis to create a huge variety of drum and percussion sounds from scratch.
We’ve looked at the more traditional electronic percussion synthesis methods, using white noise and applying subtractive methods to shape the tone and envelope of the sound.
Using FM to create a percussion sound turns this concept on its head, what we’re essentially doing is starting with a basic sine wave and building a more complex waveform using modulators – to the point where the waveform is so complex, it sounds like white noise.
We can now modulate these parameters to shape the tone and envelope of your drum sound.
Creating your sounds from the ground up gives you the ability to fine-tune them to fit into almost any example.
Of course, limiting ourselves to additive methods cuts out a huge amount of sound-shaping capabilities, thankfully most newer plugins combine subtractive and additive methods for the best of both worlds. We can use filters and distortions to shape the sound even further.
What plugin options are good for FM percussion?
For these more complex, multi-operator patches – I usually go to Phase Plant, the routing and modulation capabilities are insane, especially for percussion synthesis.
You can layer samples in if you need, however, I find enough control when creating sounds using FM methods, that I don’t often even need those extra sample layers.
That being said this can be done in Serum, using the oscillator render feature – and for the Ableton users, the built-in Operator is a good choice.
On a side note, I’ve found a really nifty way to create a huge variety of these samples if you’re using Phase Plant.
Create a bunch of macros to control various parameters, then create a bunch of random modulators, set the randoms to control the macros every few steps – then record out a long segment and choose the best parts.
For an in-depth walkthrough on these techniques check out the video tutorial here:[youtube_sc url=”https://youtu.be/Jum4Eqqz_iQ”]