Thursday, 5 April 2012

Patch 003 - Solina Strings

I've always loved the classic string synthesizer sound (think Oxygene and groovy 70s soul records), and one of the original machines which defined the sound is the ARP Solina String Ensemble. The all analog Solina has two bass voices (contra bass & cello), and depending on what version of the keyboard you have, up to four preset standard voices (viola, violin, trumpet & horn). The standard voices can all be layered.

Here is a video showing off this cool synth:

Of course, the easiest way to be able to have that classic Solina sound would be to buy an original 1970s (creeping into the early 1980s) string synthesizer, but sadly I haven't got the spare room or cash at the moment (according to Vintage Synth Explorer you can expect to pay $100 to $600 for a Solina, which I think is actually pretty good value). Another alternative would be to use a sampled approximation but I have chosen to try and recreate that sound on my microKORG. There are string sounds in the presets but hey, that would be cheating...

Not knowing where to start, I consulted what I consider to be the bible of synthesizers, the Sound on Sound Synth Secrets series, written by Gordon Reid and totalling 40 articles from May 1999 to July 2004. Thankfully this wonderful resource is available online here:

Sound on Sound's Synth Secrets

The article from February 2003 dealt with Synthesizing Strings and I used that as my starting point for creating this week's patch.

I increased the Osc 2 volume in the mixer so that both were audible and changed Osc 1 to a square wave. Next I varied the pulse width and pulse width modulation via Control 1 and Control 2 for Osc 1 until I got a sound I was happiest with. I then dropped Osc 2 by an octave and slightly detuned it to get a thicker sound. Nice, but a bit bright so I closed the filter to about halfway and changed to the gentler cut-off of the -12dB LPF. No resonance.

Next I added an amp envelope of a moderate attack, slow release, a sustain level of not quite 100% and a slow release. The Synth Secretes article suggested no decay at all but I liked the subtle movement provided by a slight drop when sustaining. The Synth Secrets article also suggested no filter envelope but I added a touch to provide some movement to the tone which I found to be pleasant but not drastic. I also added some keyboard tracking of the filter.

Modulation wise, I just added some subtle modulation to the Osc 2 tuning and Osc 1 control, both by LFO 1. Again, the amount was very subtle. Finally I added an ensemble (of course!) and added some extra brightness through EQ. I played about with the delay settings until I found a delay time I was happy with but in the settings given below I have left it turned off. Feel free to add some to suit your taste!

Here are the settings:

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 0, 5
Osc 1: SQU, 55, 10, ---, ---
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, -12, -3, ---
Mixer: 84, 118, 0, ---, ---
Filter: 12L, 67, 0, 5, 14
Filter EG: 85, 81, 53, 62, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 34, 80, 120, 94, ON
LFO 1: TRI, VOC, OFF, 32, ---
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: LF1, 2.TN, 1, ---, ---
Patch 2: LF1, 1.CT, 2, ---, ---
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: ENS, 41, 82, ---, ---
Delay: STR, OF, 63, 0, ---
EQ: 320, 0, 1.5, 5, ---
Arpeg. A: 140, 1.16, 20, AT1, 3 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: ON, 0, OFF, 8, --- (unchanged)


1 comment:

  1. Track for this patch!