West Coast

Jump to navigation Jump to search

West Coast is a synthesis method, which probably has more to do with the history of synthesizers and the way things developed initially than with what you’re supposed to or can do today.[1][2][3]

An over simplified explaination

This is a simplifed explaination to illustrate subtle points. Actual usage involves a combination of both East and West Coast techniques.[2]

Most music synthesizers are East Coast and are used for subtractive synthesis. This is the classic VCO-VCF-VCA patch, with ADSR envelopes for the VCF and VCA. The oscillators usually have very simple waveforms such as sawtooth and square wave and the filter is used to produce the timbres. This setup is easy to understand and operate, e.g. by a keyboard.[2]

The three primary synthesis modes in West Coast instruments are additive, non-linear waveshaping and dynamic depth FM. The classic patch in a West Coast instrument involves two blocks. The first is a complex oscillator which supports both non-linear waveshaping and dynamic depth FM (e.g. Buchla 259 or Serge NTO). The second signal processor is a low pass gate (e.g. Buchla 292). The primary timbre generation is done directly with the oscillator, the low pass gate just tweaks the amplitude and frequency character. Instead of a keyboard, these two blocks are controlled with a sequencer or complex envelope generator, with multiple outputs routed to all the factors of the timbre. West Coast instruments produce a larger and different set of timbres than the East Coast instruments.[2]

West Coast also keep CV/gate and audio signal connectors distinct from one another.[4]

DIY West Coast projects

See also


  1. ^ Mutable Instruments forum:East and West-coast synthesis
  2. ^ a b c d Future products and a synthesizer tutorial by Grant Richter, Wiard Users, 9 September 2006
  3. ^ Mod Wiggler forum:Grant Richter on East Coast vs West Coast
  4. ^ Fw: John Simonton, SDIY list, Grant Richter, 30 November 2005

Further reading

  • Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, by Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco, Harvard University Press, 2002, hardcover ISBN 0-674-00889-8, 2004 paperback ISBN 0-674-01617-3

External links