Synthesizing FM percussion rhythm and sounds from scratch
We have covered FM synthesis in a few music production tutorials, although we haven’t created any percussion rhythm using it.
Today’s music production tutorial explores creating some Psychedelic/Tribal drum sounds using the FM relationship of two oscillators and using envelopes to get them to play off each other in interesting ways.
Firstly, we set up a simple FM patch, you can use two sine waves, or Serum’s “SawRoundedToSquare” wave shape which has a different character. Then we apply some envelopes, a very snappy envelope assigned to the FM amount parameter, and then another envelope assigned to the level or amplitude of the oscillator.
Then we can use Serum’s built-in advanced LFO editor to create some stepped modulation to control some of the parameters like the envelope decay and wavetable position. So now, by just adjusting the curve of the envelope decay you’re able to get a huge variety of different plucky and percussive sounds, you can adjust to your taste here.
To boost the transient and turn what we have into a percussion rhythm, let’s apply another envelope (This time it’s an LFO in envelope mode, as we’ve used up the envelopes), to apply pitch modulation to Oscillator B.
Onto the fine-tuning and effects…
Here you can adjust the wavetable position of Oscillator B to create varying tones, and if you watched the previous episode where I mentioned the trick on interpolating wavetables to sweep smoothly between shapes, then that just creates more variation. Again, you can adjust to your own taste here.
In terms of effects, I applied a chorus, and there’s an interesting trick here. For those who don’t know how a chorus effect works, it’s essentially a very fast delay with a variety of settings. Here we can link the stepped LFO that we created earlier to both of the delay times on the chorus effect, as well as the depth. Then we can use a delay as a traditional echo effect, you’re also not limited to using it on 16th notes like I did in the video, you can trigger your own rhythms or even use a random arpeggiator.
For an in-depth walkthrough, check out the video here: