In this tutorial I will show you how to create deep house chord stab with Sytrus. I’ll show you how to program the chord straight into the patch.
Here’s an audio example:
Here’s how to replicate that (I’m showing the exact settings for this sound – feel free to apart anytime!):
First, open Sytrus and load the ‘Default’ preset to reset the Sytrus settings.
Go to the Main module and drop the Master Pitch to -24 semitones.
Go to the Operator 1 module and select Square as the oscillator shape (right click on the Shape Preview Window to open the shape selection menu).
Next, we need to apply a low pass filter to the Operator 1 and in order to do that we need to do couple of tweaks in the Modulation Matrix:
First, disable the Operator 1 going to Main Output by right clicking the Mix knob in the row 1, column OUT. Next, in the row F1 (which represents the Filter module 1), column 1, dial the Mix knob all the way to right. This will send the output of Operator 1 to Filter module 1 at full level. And lastly, in the row F1, column OUT, tweak the Mix knob all the way to right to hear the audio again. This will send the Filter 1 output to Main output at full level.
Now, go to the Filter 1 module and select ‘Vanilla Low Pass’ as the Filter type. Use the CUT knob to control the filter cutoff frequency. But for now, tweak it all the way to right. We’ll get back to it soon.
Now, head back to the Operator 1 module and apply a volume envelope. We need an ADSR envelope with a semi-short release. First, select VOL (volume) as the Editor target (from the upper row) and ENV (envelope) as the Articulator (from the lower row) if not already selected. Switch on the envelope using that little radio buttion and in the editor window, edit the envelope curve as shown in the pic:
Done. Next, copy the envelope editor state. This way we can paste the exact same editor settings and envelope curve to other Operator modules as well (in total, there’s going to be four Operators in this patch so this will speed things up). To copy the editor state, left click that little Options button and select ‘Copy state’ from the menu.
Now, go to the Operator 2 and again, select Square as the shape of the Operator. Next, create a same kind of ADSR volume envelope as in Operator 1. All you need to do now is to click on the Options button and select ‘Paste state’ from the menu (and make sure that the Editor target is set to VOL).
Now, as this is going to be a patch where a chord is programmed straight into it, we need to change the pitch of the Operators. We are going to program a Major 7 chord which is pretty common in deep house (alongside with Minor 7) and we need four oscillators (Operators) for that. The Operator 1 is our ‘root note’. The Operator 2 is going to be transposed up by four semitones, Operator 3 by seven semitones and Operator 4 by eleven semitones. After that, we have a root note (OP1), the 3rd (OP2), the 5th (OP3) and the 7th (OP4) in the Major scale. So when you press – for example – a note of C in your MIDI keyboard, you’ll hear a C Major 7 chord (C + E + G + B).
The pitch in Sytrus Operators can be changed in few different ways. I’ll show you how to do it by using the Frequency Ratio (check the end of this tutorial for two other methods).
If you wonder what the Frequency Ratio is, here’s a straight quote from FL Manual explaining it: Frequency Ratio is a multiplication over the base pitch. The default value is 2. To increase the pitch with an octave, multiply by 2 (x2, x4, x8, x16, etc). To decrease with an octave divide by 2 (x1, x0.5, x250, etc).
Now, in order to create a chord patch that sounds musically right, we need to be able to change the pitch of the Operators in semitones. Gladly, there’s a conversion formula available that can convert cents to Frequency Ratios. And 100 cents is 1 semitone. So we can start from there. Here’s a list of all the 12 semitones converted to Frequency Ratios (when default Frequency Ratio is 2.0000):
+1 semitones = 2.1189
+2 semitones = 2.2449
+3 semitones = 2.3784
+4 semitones = 2.5198
+5 semitones = 2.6696
+6 semitones = 2.8284
+7 semitones = 2.9966
+8 semitones = 3.1748
+9 semitones = 3.3635
+10 semitones = 3.5635
+11 semitones = 3.7754
+12 semitones = 4.0000
And here’s a link to the conversion chart website
Note that if you are creating chord patches that you want to sound musically right and you are going to use the Frequency Ratio values I posted above, you need to keep your “root note Operator” Frequency Ratio at its default value (2.0000). If you use other values such as 1.0000 then you need to calculate the correct Frequency Ratios again.
Ok. Lets continue. As we are creating a Major 7 chord, we need to transpose the Operator 2 pitch so that it corresponds 3rd note in the Major scale. That’s 4 semitones (400 cents) up and the correct Frequency Ratio for that is 2.5198.
Now, in the Modulation Matrix, turn the ‘Operator 2 to filter 1’ mix level to 100% to route it’s signal to the Filter 1 module and to hear its sound.
Ok. Now, when you play – for example – a note of C, you’ll hear C (root note) and E (which is the 3rd note from C in the C Major scale).
Next, head to the Operator 3 and again, select Square as the oscillator type and paste the volume envelope state. Set the Operator 3 Frequency Ratio to 2.9966. This transposes the pitch up by 7 semitones and corresponds the 5th note in the Major scale. In the Modulation Matrix, turn the ‘Operator 3 to filter 1’ mix level to 100% to route it’s signal to the Filter 1 module.
At this point you may want to drop the master volume a little in the Main module as three oscillators mixed together naturally increases the amplitude of the patch.
Ok. Now go to the Operator 4, select Square as the shape and paste the envelope state. Set the Operator 4 Frequency Ratio to 3.7754. This transposes the pitch up by 11 semitones and corresponds the 7th note in the Major scale. And once again, in the Modulation Matrix, turn the ‘Operator 4 to filter 1’ mix level to 100% to route it’s signal to the Filter 1 module.
Ok. Next, head to the Filter 1 module for couple of tweaks.
Now, in order to make this patch sound ‘stabby’ or ‘staccato’ or whatever it’s called, we need a filter envelope. First, decrease the filter cutoff frequency value to make the patch sound a bit softer as it is a kind of harsh right now. Next, select CUT (Filter cutoff frequency) as the Editor target (and Envelope as the articulator if not already selected) and enable the envelope. (You can also enable the tempo-based time to sync the envelope with your project tempo. It’s not necessity for a this kind of ‘stab’ sound though, but for rhythmic filter sequences and such it’s handy to keep on.) Edit the envelope as shown in the image below. Also, drop the cutoff Envelope amount (ENV) value a bit. This will kind of soften the attack part of the filter envelope as the Envelope amount controls how much the filter envelope actually have an influence on the cutoff. And lastly, increase the Resonance amount for some ‘bite’.
Done. Next we need some basic effects: delay and reverb so head to the FX module and in the Modulation Matrix, row F1, column FX, tweak the ‘Filter 1 to effects’ mix level knob to around 100%. This will define how much of the signal from the Filter 1 module will be send to the FX module. It’s actually a way to control the wet/dry effect level of the whole FX module.
The Chorus effect is active in the FX module by default. We don’t need it in this example so disable it (left click and drag down).
Next, enable the Delay Unit 1. Set the Delay Mode to Ping-Pong, Delay Time to 5:00 and Delay Time stereo offset to around 12 ms right (or left) for a wider stereo panorama of the delay effect.
Next, activate the Reverb and set the Reverb Color to Warmer (W+). Use the Reverb Low Cut to avoid unnecessary rumble appearing in the reverberation (Reverb Low Cut removes low frequencies from the input signal before reverb is added). When I was making this patch I set the Low Cut value by ear and ended up to around 750-800Hz so that some of the mid frequencies got rolled off as well and it sounded pretty nice. Set the Decay to around 5 seconds. Bypass the Reverb High Damping to hear those high frequencies in the reverb signal. And maybe drop the Reverb Wet Level a bit.
Now, go to the Main module to EQ the sound using Sytrus internal EQ.
There’s a Scheme Selection section where you can set how the equalizer is processed in the synth mixing chain. Select ‘OUT+FX’ to apply EQ to both, the effects module and the main output signal. Use the EQ band 1 (which default setting is low shelf filter at 90Hz and below) to attenuate the low frequencies. Use the EQ band 3 (which default is high shelf filter at 8kHz and above) to add a bit of brightness to the sound.
Ok. As a final touch, activate the portamento and monophonic modes in the Sytrus Channel Settings box.
Portamento mode slides the pitch from note to note. Monophonic mode restricts the instrument to play only one note at a time. Now, even though it’s not mandatory to switch on to replicate this sound, it’s handy to keep on because those ‘slidey’ sounds works better in monophonic mode as the notes bend in to each other perfectly – especially if you play live with your MIDI keyboard. You’ll avoid those overlapping notes appearing which is particularly handy with chord patches as the overlapping may cause some ‘cacophony’. But it’s not a biggie though, just a minor tweak. Also, use the Slide knob to set the slide length (effective when portamento is turned on). It’s also used for overlapping notes in monophonic mode. Set it to around 0:06-0:07.
Alright! The sound is now ready.
In case you’re interested, here’s the sequence I used in the audio example.
Just an idea: for developing the sound a bit further, set loop points to the filter envelope (in the Filter 1 module) and edit the envelope into all kinds of different shapes.
One more thing: if you want to create the chords in the Piano Roll instead, just disable Portamento and Monophonic modes and disable Operators 2, 3 and 4 in the Modulation Matrix leaving only the root note Operator (OP1) enabled.
Now you can go and create your chords ‘manually’ in the Piano Roll.
There’s also two other methods to change the pitch of an Operator.
In a Operator module, leave the Frequency Ratio to its default (2.0000). Set the Editor target to PITCH, Articulator as Envelope and activate the envelope. Also make sure the Snap-to-grid is enabled.
In the editor grid, leave only one envelope point and delete the rest. Now, move the remaining envelope point up or down. Each horizontal line in the editor grid corresponds one semitone.
The downside of this method is that the pitch envelope of the Operator is in use now so you cant use it for other pitch envelope tasks. But gladly, there’s a third method:
In the Operator module, make sure the Editor target is set to PITCH again and set the Articulator as KEY M (Key Mapping). Also make sure that the SNAP is on. Now, in the editor grid, drag that horizontal line up or down. And as the SNAP is on, each step up or down corresponds one semitone.
When you are creating your deep house chord patches, try those Minor 7 chords as well. Just like the Major 7 chord, the Minor 7 chord consists of the root note, the 3rd, the 5th and the 7th, but in the minor scale. So you will need to use these Frequency Ratio values (assuming you are using Frequency Ratio to change the pitch):
OP1 = 2.0000 (root note – assuming you are using Operator 1 as your root note)
OP2 = 2.3784 (up by 3 semitones)
OP3 = 2.9966 (up by 7 semitones)
OP4 = 3.5635 (up by 10 semitones)
So now, when you play C for example, you’ll hear C Minor 7 which consists of notes C, D#, G and A#.
The end! 😎
Watch the video version below and download the Sytrus patch: