Learning to play a synth
There are many forms of synth. Learning piano will help you to understand the concepts and techniques of a keyboard instrument. However not all synths have a keyboard.
You will learn more about synthesis by doing synthesis. Supplement this with reading and watching videos.
Software synths such as VCV Rack, Csound or similar are a good way to try out different synthesis techniques. Spending some time using one will help you to get a better idea of what modules you'd like to have.
In the 60s and 70s when synthesizers were a new thing the owners manuals, magazine articles, and books from that time had to explain synthesizers in very basic terms. These are still worth reading. Since then technology has moved on and nowadays there is a lot more to Learn. For newer products read the manual and YouTube has a lot of useful content.
Syntorial an interactive synthesizer tutorial that teaches you how to program a soft synth and trains you to be able to recreate synth sounds by ear.
Synth Secrets by Gordon Reid, serialised in Sound on Sound magazine from May 1999 to July 2004, is consistently recommended reading.
- ^ a b c Learning Synths, Hacker News, Jun 2019
- ^ Newb looking for 'Patching for dummies' kind of thing, Mod Wiggler Forum, Feb 2010
- ^ a b Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?, Mod Wiggler Forum, Mar 2020
- ^ Modular synthesis intro, part 3: How to get started by Matthew Skala, North Coast Synthesis, 2017
In discussing the topic these get recommended the most often.
- Notes on Modular Synthesis by Peter Elsea, lulu.com, 2018 - a solid primer with many of the basic patches
- Patch & Tweak - Exploring modular synthesis by Kim Bjørn, Chris Meyer, Bjooks, 2018, ISBN 9788799999514
- Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook: Synthesizer Programming, Sound Analysis, and Universal Patch Book by Fred Welsh, 2006, ASIN B000ERHA4S
- Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, Controls by Allen Strange, McGraw-Hill Inc., 1982, ISBN 0-697-03602-2 - "The 2nd edition has much more information than the 1st."
- The Complete Guide to Synthesizers by Devarahi, Prentice Hall, 1982, ISBN 0-13-160630-1
- A foundation for electronic music, Practical synthesis 1 and Practical synthesis 2, Roland Corporation, 1978/79
- Learning Music With Synthesizers by David Friend, Alan R. Pearlman, H. Leonard Pub. Corp, 1974
- Get started making music - Ableton's interactive beats, melody, harmony, basslines, and song structure tutorial.
- Learning synths - Ableton’s interactive synthesizer tutorial.
- Synth Secrets by Gordon Reid , Sound on Sound, May 1999 to July 2004 - archived
- The ARP 2600 owners manual
- Fundamentals of Music Technology Volume One: The ARP 2600 Synthesizer by Samuel Ecoff, 2000
- Virus tutorial - Programming analog synthesizers a tutorial bv Howard Scarr
- Sound synthesis and sound design by Rob Hordijk, aimed at the Nord G2 synth but generally applicable to modular analog.
- An introduction to the serge modular music system by Rich Gold with Darrel Johansen and Marina LaPalma (zip file)
- Buchla Music Easel Manual (Programming and Metaprogramming in the Electro-Organism by Allen Strange)
- Part 4 - Step by Step Guide to Synthesis, Digisound-80
- Best manuals in euro?, Mod Wiggler Forum, Mar 2022
- VCV Rack - The Eurorack simulator for Windows/Mac/Linux
- Max - The visual programming language for music and multimedia
- Csound - a sound and music computing system
- Pure Data
- AudioKit Pro, free Open Source softsynth, iOS and macOS only
- Soundcard Oscilloscope - useful to visualise what the sounds are doing
- Syntorial, training software teaching how to patch a synth by ear.
- Constructive Synthesis, build and learn subtractive synthesis
- Colin Benders The Complete Guide to Modular Synthesis
- Learning Modular Courses, video training to help master your modular synth.
- Intro to Synthesis, New York School of Synthesis by Dean Friedman, 1988 or later. Links to parts 2 and 3 are in the sidebar.
- Exploring Modular Synths playlist by Modular Landing, last updated on 24 Aug 2021
- Exploring Modular Synths - Beginner's Mind Series by Modular Landing, last updated on 7 Sept 2019
- The Foundation of Synthesis Videos – Get started: Learning the fundamentals of synthesis with Marc Doty
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