G Funk Tutorial Day 3: Making a Whirly Lead, Bass Pad and Epic Strings [7 day song]
Hi, I’m Dave from boyinaband.com, and welcome to day 3 of the 7 day song tutorial on G Funk, sponsored by Tyson Willert! Check him out on soundcloud.com/tysonwillert.
Yesterday in day 2, I taught you how to make a funktastic synth bass, today in day 3, I’ll explain how to make that iconic whirly G-funk lead synth, as well as adding some big strings and a bass pad.
Okay! Let’s begin.
We’ll start with that lead synth – create a combinator, name it “Ouch, my ears”, then create an instance of Thor inside it. Initialize, open up, then I’ll just add in some notes so we can hear the effect. As per usual, I’ll explain the notes afterwards.
So, the notes are in and the gloves are off! I should invent musical boxing… anyway, create a multi oscillator and FM pair osc to accompany the analog one. Turn the analog to a nice and sharp pulse wave, keeping the pulse width near the edge, for an even sharper tone.
Turn the multi osc to pulse wave, the last one, an octave up on interval detune mode with a small detune amount.
Turn the FM Pair osc to full fm. Now, send through the multi osc, but NOT the fm pair osc – why you might ask? Because I’m crazy! HAHAhahaHaHah! No, there actually is a reason, but I’m going to come to that later.
Remove the filter so the high end isn’t cut off – that’d be pretty disasterous for a synth this high pitched, and turn the sustain on the amp envelope to full.
Turn on the chorus with 1/4 d/w. This thickens up the sound a bit.
To get the iconic slide, turn on portamento and change it to suit – I’ve taken it down to 35, but you might want a lazier lead.
Now for that mysterious FM Pair oscillator that seems to have a worrying effect on my sanity! In the mod bus routing section, send osc 3 to OSC1 FM. A cool feature of Thor that I recently found out is that you can apply frequency modulation to ANY oscillator.
I’ll quickly explain what FM synthesis is – when you frequency modulate one wave by another, it alters the sound, changing the waveform into something more interesting than a conventional wave. If the wave has a hormonic relationship to the original signal, you can make more musical FM changes – however, if it doesn’t, you can make some seriously weird sounds. Check it out…
If I take the amount to about 40, it results in a more prominent, stronger timbre to the sound, but if I start pushing it further, you end up getting what can only be described as optimus prime’s dog in a mangler.
So, since this isn’t a threatening musical message to one of my favourite autobots (Soundwave of course being number one) I’ll bring it back down to 40 and that is all there is to it! I’ll explain those notes now.
It starts on the Bb root note, just as the bass did, and works its way down the key to the Eb, just as the bass did – that gives it a nice connection to the bass riff, meaning the two riffs work together, even though they’re miles apart in the frequency spectrum. It’s quite a strong message of racial harmony if you think about it.
Notice here the riff is strongly based around the semitone in the key, giving that powerful tension that semitones have a habit of causing. It does that little fiddly G-Funk thing (that is the technical term) which is just two 32nd notes, a 16th note, then hitting the longer note. This can also be achieved with triplets, but it’s so fast that it’s difficult to tell the difference.
But yeah, I do that section three times, the second one slightly different, as it doesn’t go down to that Eb or start from the Bb, then the last one I’ve used the same rhythm, just changed the notes to something more happy and made it resolve back to the Bb, since this is a happy G-Funk song. What? They exist, today was a good day!
Anyway, join me in part 2 where I’ll be explaining the wonders of a bassy pad to provide the groundwork for a big, epic section in the beat.
Okay, create a combinator, name it Da Pad, then create thor, init, open. I’ll add in some notes now that I’ll explain later.
We’re going to borrow from trance music and make 3 multi oscs on sawtooth, all a nice clean interval detune mode slightly detuned in a 3 octave spread. Send them through, then with full amp sustain and 0 filter env, bring the frequency down to a half. Blammo! Man, I should do speed tutorials. The three octave spread makes that huge, anthemic sound and if we cut it off, it just fills out the low end immensely.
The notes I’ve used, I’ve tried to be as cruel as I physically can be in terms of musical tension. If you remember, I’ve gone down to that Eb several times in the previous riffs, so the listener expects it. Not only with two of the note changes does the next note feel like it wants to go to that Eb, but it does so across a semitone. But that’s not all! It’s buy two painful tensions, get one free today at boyinaband.com, as I’ve got the F# going to G# which is positively crying out to resolve to the root note of Bb.
It’s the musical equivalent of dangling a fat kid with a rope tied around his waist a millimeter away from his favourite cake that would make him fat enough to break the rope and give him his freedom.
Using these powerful tense progressions with powerful synths is what causes frickin’ sweet epicness. Any musical professional will tell you that in exactly those words.
But at the moment, the bass pad is lacking the high end (I bet you totally needed me to explain that), so we’re going to add in some big strings, since if we just turn up the filter this’ll be a trance hip hop mash up rather than a G-Funk song.
So! We’re going to make a combinator, load up the “lord of the strings” preset, simply because I can do a reasonable impression of smeagol, and this gives me a chance to show off, my precious! Golem… Golem…
Ahem. But yeah, any big strings multisamples will do, then copy the notes to that one as well and listen to the power unfold! Then check it out in the track.
Freakin’ sweet – there we have a lead synth more piercing than the gaze from the hobo at my local train station (I’m pretty sure one day he’s going to come up to me and tell me that he’s me from the future and bestow a quest upon me or something), and a bass pad and strings that work together better than a schitzophrenic hobbit’s psyches!
But yes, tune in tomorrow for day 4, where I’ll be delving into some seriously smooth incidental sounds, including some funky blips, a vocoder to die for and how to add in some other hits for extra interest in the track! See you next time!