In-Depth Post #3; Synthesizers


During my second meeting, I learned about synthesizers and how to use them. I had tried to use them prior to the meeting, but I got confused from the overwhelming number of knobs and switches.

I am still not 100% sure how to use synths; my mentor recommends playing with one until I ‘get a feel for it’.

FYI: synth is an electronic instrument (usually controlled with a keyboard) that can produce a variety of sounds by manipulating frequencies and wave structure. Musicians can make use of synths by making sounds that are not from traditional instruments.

I have also discovered that a lot of these synths are quite expensive. So far, I have found as a good source to get free synths.

Incorporating the synths into Ableton works the same as how a normal instrument would, the only thing different would be designing a sound. There are also pre-set sounds that I can use, too.


How to have a Beautiful Mind:

How to be interesting:

Edward de Bono’s How to have a Beautiful Mind talks about how asking ‘what if’ type questions make a conversation more interesting. During my meeting, I tried to do this when I felt the conversation was slowing down.


Mentor: (after briefly explaining Serum, a popular synthesizer) So yeah, that’s about it, do you have any questions?

Me: Uh, would I be able to create normal instrument sounds too? What if I wanted a more traditional sound?

Mentor: Of course, actually, let’s make a kick drum right now.


Although the conversation was about to end, the ‘what if’ question kick-started a whole new conversation and I was able to learn one more thing.


How to respond:

De Bono says that “stories illustrate matters and show possibilities”, making a conversation interesting and lively (59). I already knew about how stories could make conversations interesting, as I have seen it being used a lot. So, I used it during my meeting.


Mentor: Is there anything you wanted to know in particular?

Me: Yeah, somebody I knew told me they knew someone that used Serum to make non-musical sounds and they made a living making sound effects for movies, is that even possible? Can I create any sound? For example, would I be able to create, let’s say, a snap sound?

Mentor: Yup, for sure.

Me: So theoretically, I would be able to create any sound if I had a wave table like Serum?

Mentor: Yes, a lot of people spend their entire lives designing a perfect sound. Or you could use a pre-set – by the way, this is called sound design.


In this conversation, I was able to confirm something that I had heard from a friend while also learning about the limits of Serum and other synths.



My goals for the next two weeks are to continue to develop a song with structure, perhaps making use of synths to do so.

I also aim to get my schedule back on track this week, I have been slacking off during the weekends – which is when I had allotted time to work on In-Depth.

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