If you’ve been looking for a cool high pitched lead glide synth with a funky disco feel, then check out this NI Massive video tutorial on how to recreate the Houdini synth.
[aside title="Smooth Lead!"] You can almost see the people on the dance floor strutting their stuff to this throwback synth![/aside]
This tutorial is quite solid in both its approach to showing all the steps in the process and in the content it shares. YouTube user schooshmusic has done a fine job of keeping things moving along as well as keeping it easy to follow and understood. He gets pretty darn close to the original sound in this video, but keep in mind that the keyboardist for Foster The People actually manually controls the pitch bending/glide so to get it exactly the same you would need to do this as well. But if you are just after the sound, then this is a great place to learn how to set it up.
Three oscillators, a couple filters, some reverb, phase and EQ get the main feel of the sound going. While the Oscillator OSC changes up both OSC 1 and OSC 3 through some ring mod and phasing. A little feedback gives it the gentle extra hum to carry the sound a bit further. And the monophonic voicing and slightly detuned pitch cutoff give it a nicely phased wide glide character. All in all, this sound is both current and modern, as well as a retro shout-out to the days of disco.
Keeping things simple with a sound like this allow you to incorporate it seamlessly into a song with a lot of other things happening. But if you want it to change how it sits in a mix, you can easily change it up a bit by adding some extra juice. Try a little distortion and amp modeling to bring it out, or add some gentle chorus and stereo delay to make it melt into a more hypnotic supporting element. It’s actually a fairly flexible sound, so have fun with it!