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Creating a Hybrid Woodwind Distortion Synth with FM8

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The trend of blending different instrument attributes together is becoming more and more popular in the music production world these days. This FM8 tutorial will show you how to create a distortion woodwind synth that can be used in projects ranging from cinematic scoring, to video game production to popular alternative music genres. 

Beautiful Possibilities!

 Mixing and blending sounds is easy with FM8, and once you add the Morph tool to the equation, anything is possible!

The unique array of parameters that you can tweak in FM8 make creating a hybrid instrument like this one so easy! And you don’t even need to involve the Morph tool to blend these sounds together. It all comes down to keeping things simple and clean in the FM Matrix before moving on and applying the necessary effects and modulation that allow the added harmonics, distortion and movement to come out sounding natural. Sounds like this have been made very popular by groups like The Books, Four Tet and many other artists on the experimental side of their respective genres and styles.

Starting on the Expert Ops window, you can see that this sound has Operator F being the only oscillator directly routed to the out put. Both Operators D and E and set up to modulate the Parabol wave of Operator F. They are both offset just slightly to create a natural phase movement between them and this carries into the main sound perfectly. Much like many woodwind instruments.

Linking the envelopes helps to ensure that every part of the sound will be delivered consistently, which is especially important when you are going to force an extra layer of sound in a synth like this.

The Easy/Morph window is where we can shape the Timbre and Amplitude Envelopes to begin introducing the edge of this sound and give us something to accentuate and build on when it comes time for the effects are added.

Increasing the Voicing, Detuning, Panning and adding some Analog effect to the sound all takes place on the Master window.

There are total of six effects in total to achieve the sound I’m after. There are several good stopping points along the way as the effects are added, so the is obviously flexibility in the sound at this stage and can easily go in a number of directions. The Overdrive and Tube Amp both add some grit, power and distortion, while the Cabinet gives it the core space and sound that roughness is delivered through. The Tremolo, and Chorus/Delay effects add motion and depth, while the Reverb gives the sounds more room and let’s it ring out a bit more naturally.

That wraps up this session. Below are two samples of how this instrument is sounding right now, and how it develops over time. A gentle supportive sound that also has an edge and can easily take the lead in certain types of songs.

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