Learning to play a synth

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A stock image for complexity.

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.[1]


You will learn more about synthesis by doing synthesis. Supplement this with reading and watching videos.[2][3]

Modular synthesis

Software synthesizers 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.[4]


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.[3]

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.[1]

Synth Secrets by Gordon Reid, serialised in Sound on Sound magazine from May 1999 to July 2004, is consistently recommended reading.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Learning Synths, Hacker News, Jun 2019
  2. ^ Newb looking for 'Patching for dummies' kind of thing, Mod Wiggler Forum, Feb 2010
  3. ^ a b Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?, Mod Wiggler Forum, Mar 2020
  4. ^ Modular synthesis intro, part 3: How to get started by Matthew Skala, North Coast Synthesis, 2017

Further reading

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

External links


Forum threads