Psytrance Tutorial Day 3: Acid lead synths
Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to the third day of the 7 day song on Psytrance. Yesterday in Day 2, we made a sweet acid bass, today we’ll be raising things a few octaves and delving into some lead synth territory!
Since the layout of the patch is quite similar to the bass, let’s simply duplicate the existing bass for a starting point. Right click the combinator and duplicate devices and tracks. Hit tab and link it up to a channel in the mixer up top, since it doesn’t automatically do so.
I’ll just add in some notes now, which I’ll explain later.
Change the arps to 3 oct low, since this pattern is quite nice for the lead.
Okay so the notes are in, now we’ll start changing things. Replace the reverb with a scream 4 unit (turn the aux down for now, we’ll sort it later) and turn off the EQ param for now.
In our friend Thor, start by turning those analog oscs into multi oscs. One square one saw, with the square up an octave so there’s a nice hollow top end to the tone.
Bring the filter env down slightly so the attack isn’t quite so trebley and bring the Decay in the filter envelope down until it’s more of a sharp, punchy start than a blaze open tone. We want a lead with some class that gets the chicks by being suave, rather than getting them messily drunk and then dragging them home by the hair. If you want that kind of lead, go make some hardstyle.
Bring up the res to just above half and the frequency can join a fraction lower. We’ll be moving the frequency a bit, so change the routing from the res to the freq in the MBR. Move it down to around 60 too. Again, we don’t want a massive change, just a smooth, subtle one that likes things shaken rather than stirred.
Change the shaper to saturate and turn the drive up to over a half.
Before we move away from Thor, chuck on the delay with tempo sync on, 1/4 dry wet. Since this synth is so suave, it needs to arrive fashionably late.
In the EQ, I’m just going to gently boost the 1.6khz mark by 5dB and 1.3Q To brighten up our synth. It’s the audible equivalent of dry cleaning his tux.
Now for the Scream 4. Dial it in a quarter and just have damage on – turn off cut and body. With warp mode selected, bring p1 and p2 to full and damage control to 3/8. This just adds a little bit of unpredictable distortion, which beefs up the power of the tone and makes it cut through more powerfully, like a laser watch or something similarly metaphor-extending.
So those notes! I want to keep this track nice and tense with a typically psytrance dark feel. This involves a minor key and semitone goodness – semitones being the closest two notes can get, when you alternate between them it creates dissonance which can sound painful or beautiful… or in this case, painfully beautiful, resulting in that dark feel.
So the notes are all in key – C being the order of the day, but then jumping to the semitone C#, then to the note below C in the key, the Bb for some extra tension, since it clearly wants to go back to the C… then back round to the C. Phew! What an emotional journey.
So that’s the first lead I’m using, later on in the tune we’ll switch it up a bit with a different synth – so let’s get on it!
Lead numero deux! Combinator, name it, line 6:2 mixer, thor, init, open, multi oscs x2, one down two octaves (we’re going to high pass it so the really low octave saw gives a pleasantly pitchless and gritty sound to back up the higher pitched saw.)
aaand in go the notes!
Run them both through, env half, freq half, res just over half, shaper on, bipulse mode with drive at half (we’re doing things by halves, since I heard it’s a good idea). The bipulse one gives a kind of speedy wobble to the sound, not wobble in the dubstep way, in the “jfioejfldsji” way.
Full sustain, run it into a notch state var filter in filter 2 slot with 0 env, 5/8 freq and 0 res – we’ll modulate this so it causes extra tonal changing goodness.
Bring the decay down on the filter envelope til it has a little attack to it, then lastly one state var on hp12, 0 env, 260hz and 30 rez. Chuck on the delay with tempo sync while you’re at it.
And since we’re tempo syncing things, turn on LFO2 tempo sync with 4/1 rate, then route it to filt1 res and filt2 freq by about 30 amount in the MBR. Why not LFO1 you ask? I feel LFO1 gets a little too much limelight in these tutorials, LFO2 is just as good, but way more humble. I’ve seen LFO1 in far too many trashy celeb magazines lately.
Make an EQ with param 1 boosting 270hz (essentially where we’re cutting with the hp filter so the low end that is left is more prominent).
Then just chuck a compressor with 3/4 input gain for attack volume, 3/8 threshold and 0 release so it’s nice and consistant after the attack.
And those notes – alternating between C, Eb and C# for a dark, yet emotional riff (the Eb is the third in the key – remember that thirds are a sure fire way to make emotional melodies). Combined with alternating from that long initial note to the short, sharp ones, this gives an interesting disjointed feel to the riff. Especially since the Eb and C# are on the 1/16 offbeats, making it really disjointed.
And there we have it! An Acid lead more suave than a british secret agent that is immune to the effects of aging, and a less acidic lead synth that would probably be a wise addition to your psytrance diet, since there is already so much acidic content in there. I assume it contains Riboflavin or something.
Join me tomorrow for day 4, where I’ll be delving into some pads to fill out our tune!