Making a Dark Cinematic Soundscape Element with NI Massive

In this slightly different NI Massive tutorial I will walk you through the steps of creating a simple cinematic soundscape, ideal for evoking feelings of darkness, mystery and suspense.

In today’s music world, it’s not just genres that are merging and evolving. We are also hearing more and more elements of cinematic scoring making there way into just about every kind of popular music out there. And it’s not just a quick sample here and there either. I love to hear how other artists find ways to creatively incorporate soundscapes, for instance, which is what has inspired this post today.

Native Instruments Massive is not exactly thought of by most people as a movie scoring tool. Nor is it something widely used for creating these types of background elements, though it is more than capable. More often than not, it is Massive’s counterparts FM8 and Absynth that are handed these tasks. Let’s take a look at how we can accomplish a killer atmospheric element to add some intrigue and depth to your projects.

Starting with the OSC1 panel, I have selected the Melancholia wavetable and dropped the pitch about 2 octaves. For OSC2, I went with the Melomantic wavetable and dropped its pitch about one octave. And for OSC3, I chose the often overlooked Duck Organ wavetable and raised it about an octave. The slightly offset pitch values will generate slight phasing, which is desirable in this kind of sound design.

All three sounds are routed directly to Filter 1 because we will not need a second filter for this example. And here I have set up a Lowpass 4 filter.

The next step is to add some reverb and delay on the FX tabs, as well as some slight EQ adjustments.

The real magic of a sound like this one comes from the modulation of several parameters by a single LFO. The rate is lowered quite a bit to make for a very relaxed level of movement which will compliment the longer deliver time controlled by the envelope which we will set up in the next step.

Here we need to get a little creative with the curve of our envelope to make sure that our simple sound comes across as much more complex. A longer attack lets us was into the sound, while the longer release lets us take advantage of the delay and reverb. This in turn showcases the interesting bits brought about by the sustain loop created by combining two unique curves.

Adding some noise and feedback takes off the digital edge and helps to call out some of the resonance and cutoff of the lowpass filter modulation.

The last big step in this session, before assigning your LFO, is to make a visit to the Voicing tab. Here I turned up the number of voices to 4, turned on the Pitch Cutoff, the Wavetable Position and Pan Position features and made adjustments to each. Make sure you pay close attention to each of the settings and their respective values if you are following along.

That pretty much wraps up this sound. Make all of your LFO assignments based upon the image below, as well as fine tuning of paramaters. Below you can compare the audio sample that was made by me as we walked through the steps here, to what you came up with on your end. There is no processing outside of Massive in this example. As always, this is just a starting point. What you decide to process the sound with to make it better is up to you!

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If you enjoyed this tutorial and wish to make a suggestion for a future installment, just send us a message letting us know. Thanks for stopping by!



  • Terry

    Any chance of some psytrance tuts??

    • OhmLab

      Sure thing! Stay tuned…

  • Terry

    Btw killer tut and thanks

    • OhmLab

      And thank you for checking it out!

  • Mike

    great tutorials! im really into those SP:MC & LX One sounds that they’ve been putting in their tunes all the time. maybe you could do a tutorial on those. cheers!