Online workshop “FM Synthesis”




The beginning of the 80ies saw the quick rise of the first digital FM synths such as Yamaha’s DX’s series including the legendary Yamaha DX7. Throughout the years these instruments have gained legendary status. With the revival of “vintage” FM synths (e.g. reissue of DX7 by Yamaha) and relentless development of new versions (Elektron Digitone), FM synthesis has become a fundamental key element of today’s electronic music scene. In contrast to analogue synthesis, FM synthesis techniques are often quite difficult to understand, master and effectively use in a musical production.

The workshop “Digital Sound Synthesis I (focus on FM synthesis)” gives a practical, in depth and hands on answer to this question. In this the workshop, the first in a broaders series of workshops on digital sound synthesis, focus is thus set on FM Synthesis (with synths like NI FM8, Ableton’s Operator, Dexed, Yamaha’s DX7 or Reface DX). You’ll be provided with an in depth training how to design and sculpt your own sounds using any FM or wave table synth.

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

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 .

This workshop is organized into two sessions:

Sesssion 1 (day1)

During the first day of the workshop is we’ll dive into the fundamental principles and techniques of FM synthesis. Subsequently you’ll learn how to apply this knowledge to synthesize various concrete instrument types.

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

-Fundamental of FM synthesis

  • basic components of FM synthesizer (operators, envelopes, modulators and algorithms)
  • carriers and modulators
  • C:M ratio’s
  • FM algorithms
  • overview of envelope types (organ like, acoustic and impulse envelopes)
  • working with envelopes
  • generating basic waveforms (saw, square, pulse, noise)
  • modulator levels
  • working with LFO’s
  • setting up and working with modulations

-Practical synthesis of string and pad sounds

-Practical synthesis of brass sounds

-Practical synthesis of woodwind sounds

-Practical synthesis of bass sounds

Sesssion 2 (day 2)

During the second day of the workshop is you’ll further refine your knowledge of the workings and principles of FM synthesis using some concrete hands on examples and patches. After this you’ll apply the new knowledge to synthesize various additional instrument types on any FM Synth.

Concrete program:

-Fundamental of FM synthesis part 2

  • working with feedback
  • working with multistage envelopes
  • monophonic and polyphonic LFO’s
  • velocity scaling
  • keyboard scaling
  • adding effects

-Practical synthesis of drum and percussion sounds

-Practical synthesis of bell like sounds

-Practical synthesis of keyboard sounds

-Practical synthesis of special effects

-Practical synthesis of drones and soundscapes

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



This workshop does can be followed entirely with free plugin Dexed (, an amazingly powerful emulation of the legendary Yamaha DX7 FM Synth. Dexed runs as a standalone a pp and if you work with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) you can also use Dexed inside your DAW. The workshop also does not require any previous knowledge on FM synthesis or sound synthesis in general. All techniques and principles will be explained from the start.

Planning of the workshop:


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