The ask how to synthesize something thread

Here’s a big thread for asking how to synthesize something particular with the A4. Hopefully someone wise will answer too!

I’ll start with two questions:

How would you make nice claps?

And how would you make nice strings?

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just clench your teeth and the claps come pooping out magically!

i wanna sound like color me badd , on that song they did, it was a hit, what synth was that?

when in doubt, sos it !


Claps fall into unturned percussion, more often than not this means the sonic template is built via noise. In the noise generator by increasing S+H alone you already get a sense of a clap, the rest is a fast attack, moderate decay and no sustain or release. easy stuff for the A4, also filtering or some fx to your taste.

Strings are a different story since the A4 doesn’t play poly, and is limited in OSC, so for good strings you would need to be creative, as in using several tracks for one sound, depending on the type of stringed instrument you are looking to replicate. here is a nice chart that should help to get people started.

I also like this chart to understand Notes to Frequency.

“Pitch ranges of musical instruments”

the rest would be choosing a wave form, amp, and filter and fx.

on a side note a tuner is a great tool to building sounds.

I hope this helped in some way.

You can try this as a quick way to approximate a desired sound:

  1. Take an ipad or other tablet with a decent synth app - or use a soft synth on laptop. Tablet is more convenient as you can position easily next to your A4 for reference.
  2. Find the patch/instrument you wanna recreate
  3. Match the settings as best you can on A4 - it won’t be exact - use your ears
  4. Rinse repeat

See the Magellan Strings example - two saw waves, slightly detuned, long attack and release on the amp envelope, LP filter, delayed LFO slightly modulating OSC pitch for a bit of vibrato. Set this up on the A4 then see if it will work as a chord on one track by setting the OSC & Sub OSC pitches to create MAJ/MIN & 5th intervals.


Clap: Only noise, nothing from the oscillators, set noise envelope to some suitable value for a nice decay. Use a fast triggered sawtooth LFO modulating AMP for the sound, adjust the LFO fade in/out envelope to get the wanted amount of “claps” in the clap sound.


how about a squelchy 303 like bassline? or a dripping sh-101 like bassline?

He He really smrt… Smart

The key to imitative subtractive synthesis is to first analyze the instrument or sound you wish to synthesize. Then select the oscillator waveform shape that matches it the closest as a starting point. Starting out with the correct fundamental ingredients should always get you closer to your desired sound. For instance you wouldn’t want to try and emulate a trumpet or synth brass sound with a Triangle or Sine waveform.

Use some form of spectral analyzer so you can determine the instruments harmonic structure and behavior (or you can search online and easily find harmonic structures for any acoustic instrument). Then try and match that structure with your oscillators.

Good starting points for the A4 Oscillator WAVs:

Sawtooth - Trumpet, Synthesized Brass, Strings

Transistor Pulse and Pulse - Woodwinds, Clarinet, Nasally Hollow Sounds, Plucked Strings.

Triangle - Flutes, Aerophones, Organ, Sub-Bass, Kick Drums

Noise - Percussion, Wind, Waves, Filter Excitation, etc.

A special note on the A4’s Triangle WAV it tends to saturate on the low end which has nice percussive uses. Also with PWM on this waveform above the value of 25 it starts to become more Sawtooth like. Which is handy for some sound design. Credit to Anselmi for first posting this:

Also note that the PWM on the A4 is handy for modulating the harmonic structure of the chosen waveform. So this can be very handy for getting even more diverse sound sculpting mileage out of the generators.

There are many sound design tricks that the A4 is capable of because it has been designed and setup with common subtractive synthesis tricks in mind.

That’s pretty helpful. Thanks. So, if you were to try and recreate this sound on the a4, what steps would you take to try and get something close?

Also there is a lot of good info to be found on the web, this is a sticky over on the tempest forms, but the idea’s can apply to all synths.

Pretty basic stuff, but Moog have a nicely-produced video on synthesising percussion.

These articles are so dense with the science. Would be great to have more simple, step-by-step, guides showing you how to approximately synthesize certain sounds using a synth like the A4.