Episode 001 - Synthesizer Basics, part 1

Published: Jul 14, 2015 by Adam Anderson

In this first episode, we lay some groundwork for working with synthesizers. Learn about oscillators and envelopes. If you've seen these settings on your synth, but never quite understood how to adjust them, come have a listen as we explain what they mean.
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Show Notes


Synthesizers offer many different types of oscillators. But what are they? These are the building blocks of the sounds in your synthesizer. In the episode we talk about the different types of waveforms available in many synthesizers. For a more in-depth look, checkout Physics and Music: The Science of Musical Sound.


The envelope (sometimes called envelope generator or “EG”) describes how the volume of a sound behaves over time. Percussion instruments generally have a fast attack followed by a fast decay and almost no sustain. An organ tone might have an instant attack and infinite sustain.

Envelopes on a synthesizer are often described using the acronym ADSR or Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release. In the episode you’ll hear the difference when modifying these settings.

To learn more about oscillators and envelopes, check out this book at Amazon.com: The Synthesizer: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing, and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Music Instrument.