Online workshop “Analogue/Subtractive Sound Synthesis”


Analogue synthesizers gained a broad audience in the 60’ies when legendary
instruments such as the Minimoog and Buchla synths were launched. Since it’s first appearance analogue or also called subtractive synthesis has been the reference and laid the foundations for a whole range of electronic instruments to come. With the hugely successful revival of analogy synths the last years (with reissues legendary instruments, a boom of modular synths and new additions to the range) analogue or subtractive synthesis has proved that is here to stay and has a bright future to come.

Whereas the basic principles of any analogue synthesizer are not hard to grasp a thorough and systematic understanding of how to build and sculpt the sounds you want is not easy.

The workshop “Analogue/Subtractive Sound Synthesis” gives a practical, condensed and hands on answer to this question. In this 3 day workshop you’ll be taught a systematic method and technique how to design your own sounds on any given analogue synth. The method relies hereby on a thorough understanding of spectral and waveform analysis of sounds and the acoustics of real world instruments.

The workshop is intended for musicians, music producers, composers, sound designers or artistic creative interested minds. No previous knowledge is required for this workshop.

This workshop is hosted and organized by the Center-MCS (Center for Music, Coding and Sound Design). Check out more on Center-MCS and get the latest updates via our facebook page .

On a practical side the workshop is organized into three sessions:

Sesssion 1: (day 1)

In this first session you learn to get acquainted with the basic principles sound synthesis, acoustics and the building blocks of any analogue synthesizer. We’ll end the session with building some first practical examples.

Concrete program:

-Basics principles of sound synthesis

  • Oscillator types and basic waveforms
  • Overtones series
  • Spectral decomposition of sound wave
  • Link between sound synthesis and real world instruments
  • Basics building blocks of analogue synthesizers
  • Basics of classification of sound
  • First practical hands on synthesis examples

Sesssion 2: (day 2)

The second day of the workshop is we’ll apply the knowledge from session 1 in the first practical hands on session. You’ll learn how to synthesize various concrete instrument types on any analogue synth.

-Fundamental of subtractive synthesis part 1

  • working with oscillators
  • working with filters (LP, HP, BP, BS, All pass filters)
  • overview of envelope types (organ like, acoustic and impulse envelopes)
  • working with envelopes (amplitude, filter, pitch envelopes)
  • working with LFO’ s
  • setting up and working with modulations

-Practical synthesis of bowed string sound
-Practical synthesis of plucked string sound
-Practical synthesis of brass sounds
-Practical synthesis of woodwind sounds
-Practical synthesis of bass sounds

Sesssion 3: (day 3)

For the third day of the workshop you’ll first further refine your knowledge of the workings and principles of analogue synthesis using hands on examples and patches. In doing so you’ll apply the new knowledge to synthesize various additional instrument types using analogue synthesis techniques

-Fundamental of analogue synthesis part 2

  • working with self resonance in filters
  • working with multistage envelopes
  • working with ring modulators
  • working with noise and S&H as modulators
  • monophonic and polyphonic LFO’s
  • working with effects
  • velocity and keyboard scaling

-Practical synthesis of pad sounds
-Practical synthesis of drum and percussion sounds
-Practical synthesis of keyboard sounds
-Practical synthesis of lead sounds
-Practical synthesis of vocal sounds
-Practical synthesis of special effects
-Practical synthesis of drones and soundscapes

Depending on request of the participants synthesis of particular instruments or sounds can be handled as well or focus can be directed to one or more specific class of sounds.


This workshop does can be followed entirely with free TAL Noisemaker plugin ( and free plugins from Full Bucket Music ( ). The workshop does not require any knowledge or previous experience with analogue synthesis or sound synthesis in general. All techniques and principles will be explained right from the start.

Planning and duration of the workshop:

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