Friday, June 19, 2009


Flying Through The Forest. Seven tracks in Ableton Live, all made using Synplant. I saw it on Matrixsynth maybe a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued. I downloaded the demo, and then purchased it more or less right away. Basically, there’s no knobs or buttons. To design your sounds you instead “grow” them. It’s a little bit hard to describe, but once you try it it just makes sense. There’s a seed in the center, and 12 branches, one for each note. What you do is grab hold of a branch and drag the tip in towards the seed in the center or out towards the edge of the circular window, thereby changing the sound. Remember, though, that there are the 12 branches, so you’re only really changing the sound of the note you’re working on. You can make all 12 notes completely different, just a little bit different, or, by cloning the branch, all the same. You can even automate a note/sound rotation, which ends up making each note play a different sound each time you play it. You can go crazy if you want to, or you can use it as a subtle effect to make your sounds move and change over time.

It’s very easy to get completely chaotic “sound effects” but you’re also able to get all sorts of “normal” synth patches, too. Also, it’s fast and very easy. I usually start with a random seed, drag the branches around until I have a bunch of sounds that interest me and then save the “plant” as a template of sorts. I can then go back and clone a branch and refine it until I have something I like. If you sit down and play with it for an hour or so, you can get a whole family of new patches. It feels completely organic somehow, more like making scrambled eggs than working with a synthesizer control panel. It’s also totally intuitive once you get used to the idea, not in the way that you would “know” what turning a knob on a synth would do, but more like the way you, well, scramble eggs. You don’t have to think about it, you can just do it.

And that’s what I did this morning. Actually, I started last night, with a completely different synthesizer. I just got the Waldorf Edition, mostly so I could finally have my PPG Wave. It’s amazing, great fun, and sounds, well, incredible. So I made a burbling texture, threw in some (G-Force) Mellotron and some (Arturia) Minimoog, and sprinkled over the top I put in some extra burbles from Synplant and recorded a tune. However, this morning I went back to my Synplant sound and worked on it for a little while. I ended up with a whole folder full of good sounds, taking special care to make “useful” types of patches. I then fired up Live and went to work. It all just sort of easily flowed together. I then decided I needed a new sound, not quite a lead synth sound, but more like something to add one more bit of texture. I went back to Synplant and was able to quickly make a new patch which fit in quite well.

It’s all so, well, organic. The sounds are simply grown, and they’re lively and in motion and never static. It’s like the thing’s alive. However, don’t be under the impression that you have no control over the sounds you make. If you need to, there’s a “DNA” button you can click to get to all the parameters. In fact, you don’t have to grow your sounds at all if you don’t want to, you can tweak sliders to your heart’s content. I generally use both techniques, however. I grow my sound, then often go in and manually mess with the synth engine, usually just refining but occasionally radically altering the sound. I’ve only had it a week or so but already I’m getting familiar with the controls, but even if you’re brand new to the synth there’s a totally helpful Help button. When you click it you get a good explanation of what the control does. There’s also a good manual that comes with the program as well, so it’s relatively easy to learn the ins and outs. I ended up buying it long before the three week evaluation period was up.

Synplant. It’s totally worth a try.

Synplant tune (seven tracks of nothing but Synplant)
<a href="">Floating Through The Forest by Seth Elgart</a>

Waldorf PPG Wave 2.V tune (with Synplant track)
<a href="">The Dawn Star by Seth Elgart</a>

1 comment:

howard harawitz said...

I saw the reference to Synplant on the Synthsights list and downloaded it. I haven't even scratched the surface yet but it feels like it suits my way of creating sounds. Thanks for your suggestions about using it.

Cheers and regards,

Howard Harawitz
Halifax, Nova Scotia