Synthesizer Basics – Lesson 3 [music]

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Music
Tags: , , ,

Lesson 1 went over the common components of a synthesizer, explained the functions of the Oscillators, and the mixer sections. Lesson 2 looked at the Envelope and filter sections of the synth. This time we’ll get into using the LFO and arpeggiator sections and polyphony options.


LFO stands for Low Frequency Oscillator. This oscillator typically functions in the 0 to 20Hz range, but this oscillator isn’t a tone generator but actually a control voltage to modulate the other parts of the synth.
There are just three basic controls for the LFO section
⁃    Rate (or speed)
⁃    Waveshape
⁃    Depth
Rate sets how many cycles per second the LFO operates at.
The Waveshape sets how it behaves. The waveshape options will be the same as in the tone generating Oscillators
Depth sets how much effect the LFO will have on the functions it’s assigned to
Often you’ll find the depth controls are on each of the other functions, like the Oscillators, and filter. In this case its very likely that the knob will be labeled LFO and pointing straight up is off. Turning the knob to the left or right will cycle that function down and up, or up and down.
Other synths will just have a single depth knob and some way to assign the LFO to just one parameter.
Enough talking about what it does, let’s here what it can do.
In this example there will be a tone with no LFO, then -50% modulation for oscillator 1, then 50% for the filter with a triangle waveshape.


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