Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Synth sounds from Visage's Fade to Grey

This week I'm focusing on three sounds from the classic synthpop song Fade to Grey by Visage. I've recreated the riff/bass, the string-like pad and the pluck that plays the countermelody.

The main riff/bass part is made up of two detuned sawtooth waveforms with a little bit of the top end filtered out.

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The string pad is somewhat reminiscent of the Polymoog string preset. I'm not sure if that's the synth used to create the original, but it does sound a lot like it to me.

To make this sound I used two detuned oscillators generating pulse waves, and I used Thor's LFO to create pulse-wave modulation (PWM). To do this I routed the LFO to the pulse-width control on oscillators 1 and 2, and used Rotary 2 to scale the amount of modulation. It's important to note that when using Thor for PWM that the puse width can be made so narrow that the oscillator becomes inaudible. In order to avoid this I found the point where this happens and limited rotary 1 to the audible range.

Finally I created a slight vibrato by using the LFO to control the pitch parameter of oscillators 1 and 2, and used the two rotary controllers to fine tune the PWM settings to match the original sound.

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The pluck sound is quite simple in many respects; two oscillators generating sawtooth waveforms a octave apart. The filter isn't used, but the amp envelope generator is used to create a sound that decays away to nothing. I made the release time slightly quicker than the decay time so that there is some control over the length of the sound depending on when the key is released. Because I used both oscillators in creating the octave I couldn't detune them to thicken the sound, so I needed to layer the sound in some other way. I added a chorus device to get the depth I wanted, and combined it with the synthesizer in a Combinator for convenience.

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