Designing a Dissonant Cinematic Pad with NI FM8 for Your Music
As the trend of adding cinematic elements to modern music continues to progress, there is a growing need for original sound design in the studio. This FM8 tutorial from OhmLab shows you how to create a dissonant cinematic pad.
This type of dissonant cinematic pad sound is one of my favorite to work with on many levels as a sound designer. I have been making sounds and music for film, television, gaming, etc for quite a while now and have been paying close attention to just how common it has become to incorporate cinematic sounds into popular music. It truly can elevate a song to another level and add a certain kind of tension and interest that is simply not possible through traditional music instrumentation. Perhaps it helps to transport the listeners to a place they have visited in a movie, or perhaps it is simply a triggering a sense of wonder in them. Either way, it is something that we should expect to hear in music for many many more years to come.
When approaching a sound like a dissonant pad, you should first decide what exactly you would like to create. Think of a mood, rather than a sound, if that helps. It can be a bit tricky at first, especially after years of training your ears to stay away from heavy dissonance. My first piece of advice is to keep it as simple as possible. If you want to use a bunch of different waveforms, then keep the routing simple. Of you want to experiment with more complex routing options, keep the waveforms selection to just one or two. In this example I choose to stick with just Sine waves so we could explore some extreme differences in pitch and still keep things simple enough to follow along with.
Starting with the FM Matrix, it will probably be best to look at the Expert Ops window first. This gives you a snapshot into the main parameters involved with creating the core sound of this pad. As you can see in the image below, each operator is running a Sine wave, but the pitch of each one is offset, varying from slight to extreme. Now when you look at the routing in the FM Matrix you can see that the routing is aimed at blending the sounds before they reach the main output.
As you may already be able to tell, I am shooting for a darker, almost creepy kind of sound. I chose this kind of sound because it works well with dubstep, dark Dn’B, grime and other genres popular amongst our community here. So it is applicable. The next step is to set up the envelopes for each of the operators. This is easy enough with the help of the linking feature on the Expert Env window.
Now to make a few adjustments on the Master window. With a sound as dissonant as this one, we should probably stay away from adding more Unison voices. But what we can do to help transform our sound more is to increase both Analog and Digital Quality parameters. The helps to add an edge to the pad and accentuate soem of the more interesting elements of the sound.
The next stop is the Effects window, where I have added a total of eight different effects to further shape the sound. The Overdrive and Cabinet add a touch of drive and an environment for the sound to emanate from. The Shelving EQ and Peak EQ are used to shape and accentuate frequencies. The Tremolo, Reverb, PsycheDelay and Chorus/Delay ass help to make the sound deeper, wider and give the feeling of more movement.
The last window we will work in is the Easy/Morph. Here a few adjustments are made to the Timbre and main Amplitude Envelopes. This is the last step in the process of designing this particular sound. You can easily follow the same approach to create new sounds of your own. You can also take this sound into your DAW and begin processing it to make it into something else entirely. The audio sample below is the sound on it’s own, single notes and no processing outside of what was shown here in this FM8 tutorial.
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