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Becoming a Master Triton Sound designer

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Joined: 25 Dec 2010
Posts: 29
Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:00 am    Post subject: Becoming a Master Triton Sound designer Reply with quote

There are people that are experts in sound design and those who are doing this as experts with the Korg Triton. Most likely these rare birds work for Korg. Why did they make learning this so encryptic? We spent a lot of money on the Triton and other keyboards but we get manuals that are worthless for anything other than over stating the obvious along with many esoteric if not encryptic information about programming / designing sounds. I have searched the internet for a long time and always hit dead ends. I bought some DVDs one time but they were worthless as they were filled with obvious basic information.

I have a highly technical background with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Computer Science as well as being an experienced if not seasoned, musician. I have the IQ and the background to become an expert at this if I can just get someone to share this information with me. I need a source to help me comfortably learn this. It makes no sense to beat my head against the wall reinventing the wheel as it were, by trying to decypher the methodology to create and design sounds on the Triton, Motif, Fantom or any other synth. The number of permutations and combinations of parameters and settings makes it extremely daunting and to overwhelming to try to learn sound design this way.

Please, will someone help me find the path and direction to where I need to go to learn from a Master or expert or whatever you want to call them. Do I have to get a job with Korg just to accomplish this? It really should not be this difficult. I have never heard of a school or class that would teach this. A book is not really going to be of much help because with something like this you need to hear and see and try it first hand.

Can we try to collectively pick the brains and get a collaboration of all the people in this forum who know something about programming sounds and start creating a new section of this forum or a video for this type of tutorial???

Please make suggestions and give us your thoughts and input.

Thank you!

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Joined: 01 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me give it a shot. I can probably try to explain it in a way you can better understand.

This is basically what no one ever explained to me and I had to learn on my own:

I'm guessing that you don't really understand the difference in synthesis that well, so I will start from there.

As you know, sound is just vibration of the air that reaches your ears.

Someone found a long time ago, that there is a fundamental piece to sound: The Sine Wave.

Then they found that if you take Sine Waves, at different frequencies, and play them together, you can build other type of waves, like Sine Waves, Square Waves, etc etc.

This is what you'll see referred to as: Additive Synthesis

And when dealing with Additive Synthesis, you'll hear about the fundamental, and the overtones, etc. All that means is the Sine Waves that have to be played in a frequency and volume (amplitude) to generate other type of waves (almost like building a chord out of notes. C Major for example, is C, E, G).

Easiest way for you to understand it is to try it yourself:


So the crazy thing is that, with enough sine waves, you can replicate insanely accurate sounds, like an Acoustic Piano's Timbre. I have no idea how many, but I'm guessing probably in the hundreds?

Wasn't practical back then. So before we continue, let's understand Subtractive Synthesis:

This one is much easier. The concept is that you don't build your Square or Saw Waves on your own (like with Additive), but rather the factory gives you a synth with prebuilt ones you can play with (let's say a Juno 106)

So that's what they call an "Oscillator", it's the circuit that is generating that wave. So let's say you select a Saw Wave and play it. You'll hear that typical Saw Wave sound, sharp, brassy and cutting.

So those synths come with another function called the "Low Pass Filter" which is almost literally like a knob that only cuts the treble out of the sound, but leave the bass/low end intact.

If you twist the knob, you'll be cutting, and restoring the high portion of the saw wave in real time, and this will sound like "Neeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmooooooooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"

That's what they call Subtractive Synthesis. Now usually you can do more, like add Resonance (which is just a function that loops the sound onto itself creating a resonant frequency, and gives it that squelchy sound (search for acid 303 on youtube), and other functions.

Resonance in particular is very sought after, because it makes sounds have that resonant "phaser" like effect, and sounds very futuristic.

So this is why you'll notice that Subtractive Synths are usually limited to Saw/Square type sounds, at which they excel. All the stuff people go crazy over (Juno, Jupiter 8, 303, etc).

FM synthesis is really very very similar to Additive Synthesis, but the Sine Waves aren't added together, but rather, the second sine wave directly modifies the first one, and the 3rd modifies the 2nd. Instead of being called Overtones they are caller Carriers. So this is not as good as "true" additive because the carriers are not able to control the volume of the sine waves created, but the method is so close that FM might as well be Additive Synthesis' retarded cousin. Still, due to this limitation, everything FM does sounds "metallic" and harsh. Great for Electric Piano sounds, as my favorite sounds of all time are "DX"ish style EP's.

Can additive synthesis recreate the same sounds as FM? Sure, with enough work, because FM is a hammer approach, probably would be 10 times as complex to make the same sound in a "true" additive synth, but not impossible.

Each style of synthesis is trying to recreate the same thing: real acoustic instruments. Each one fails miserably. Additive being the one with the potential to actually be successful, and maybe know they could do it with a VST, on a Core i7 with a gazillion Sine Wave OSC'

At that point, it's no longer called "Additive Synthesis" but rather "Physical Modeling". Technically, since tuning 2000 Sine Waves at the exact right frequencies and amplitudes to recreate a violin, complete with bow attack, and vibrato would be an insane task, instead, smart people have had their software analyze real people playing the violin, and the software learns how to create that exact range of waveforms, and play it back in real time, completely synthesized............................................or at least that's the idea. A few synths can do a very good job, but if someone can point me to a VST that can be played with all the nuances of a violin, I'd love to see it Smile

Subtractive Synthesis, on the other hand, is limited to the waveforms programmed from the factory. Whatever waveform they created from the factory, that's what you get.

You can then slice it any way you want, with the low pass filter (treble cut), and if you're lucky, your synth is advanced, and has a high pass filter (bass cut), a bandpass filter (cut everything except mid frequencies), etc etc.

So you can get 100 variations of a Saw or Square, but they are *still* a saw and square.

So how to get real acoustic sounds then?

This is where the "ROMplers" come into play.

Someone figured out "Why the heck are we wasting time trying to synthesize real instruments? Why not just record someone playing the originals note by note, assign them to a keyboard, and everytime you play a key, it's like you're hitting "Play" on your CD player for that recorded sound?"

And Wavetable Synthesis was born, also known as "ROMPler". Hated by everyone yet everyone needs it, lol.

Wavetable, literally has the recordings of instruments as played by someone in real life, note by note, and permanently recorded onto your synth.

The Korg Triton is a Wavetable Synthesizer. Let's say you select "M1 Piano", or "SG Piano". If you play the note of C, you are playing back the prerecorded sound that Korg recorded originally in studio of a rinky dink (but very cool) piano sound at that note. If you play C major, you are hitting the "play" button for 3 recordings, etc etc.

Because you are just playing back recordings someone else made, there is no real "synthesis" going on, you're just playing back stock sounds someone else made. And this is why ROMPlers are hated by people obsessed with synthesis. You can't really do much with those sounds.

But, lucky for us, a ROMpler like the Triton, doesn't just have the stock recordings (which Korg calls multisamples). It has filters, just like a Subtractive Synthesizer (low pass filter, high pass, notch filter, and ever resonance, but it suuuuuuuucks on the Triton unfortunately), and it has up to 7 individually assigned effects (chorus, reverb, delay, distortion, etc etc)

So, like an old Subtractive Analog Synth, a ROMpler like the Triton can select an "Oscillator" and you can choose which sample to play back as if it was a waveform (Can't remember how many the Triton Extreme has, but I think it's over 1000, pianos, organs, bells, guitars, strings, special FX, etc etc)

So for you to "sound design" on a Triton, what you're really looking to do is how to combine this massive amount of things into cool, usable sounds.

If you go thru most of your Combis, you'll find a lot of them are just 4 or more sounds joined together (like Piano and Strings, or Piano and Bass). Or complex layers (4 or more separate strings connected together, etc)

So in a nutshell that's the basics right there. Let me know if you found it useful.
Yamaha Tyros 4. Korg 01/Wpro. Korg N5ex. Roland BK5, Korg Legacy M1 and WS. Sold: Boss DR-770, and MicroArranger. They shall be missed. Reason 9.5 beast!!
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


I know how you feel. I too want to become a master sound designer. Alas, I'm just a hacker. Like you I am technical (Software Engineer) with the aptitude to learn (but not always the time). But here is what I have found in my meager efforts:

1) Real sound design (unless you are an expert already) takes a lot of time and dedication! Are you really dedicated to spend the time you need to become an expert?
2) To design really good sounds, you need to know what sounds you are going for. Sometimes you need some imagination (imagine new sounds), otherwise you are just duplicating what has already been done.
3) On the Triton Extreme, it is much easier and quicker to simply modify and tweak existing programs and combinations.
4) Just get started. Yes jump into the pool, the waters is warm! If you never start, you won't learn much.
5) I suggest start with a combi which you really like, but has something that annoys you (like a screeching sound, or missing a bass sound, ...). Then turn off the annoying sound, and/or replace it with what is missing for you. Then navigate around and play with other parameters to your liking. Usually within 15 -30 minutes I have a patch that sounds way better (to me) than what I started with. Save it! Meanwhile you begin to understand how Triton builds it's sounds.
6) Do the same with a program you like but want to change. The parameters will be much different than the combi's and now you will begin to understand a lower level of programming on the Triton.
7) If after you do the above, you are still willing to learn Triton programming at a deeper level, start messing with samples used within programs. Here there really is no limit (except your own imagination) to the original sounds you can make.
Cool Have fun!!!
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