Knowledge Bank Series: Recreating a WEEP Synth
This tutorial is really an answer to a good question posed to us in the Knowledge Bank forum, where someone asked how to recreate a certain synth sound heard in a Razor n’ Guido remix of the Skunk Anansie’s Brazen (Weep) song from 1998. And I must say that this one was a bit of a challenge. It was oddly deceiving. In part, this was because the sounds were not created in Massive to begin with, as well as the audio in the example not being the greatest and there ended up being a few sound layered together. So after a bit of time, I came pretty close to cracking the sound. Here is what I came up with…
I started by selecting a few waveforms for the three main oscillators, and made a few preliminary adjustments to get a base sound going to work with.
Next, I added a couple of filters and played with the routing a little, because I knew that the sound that I was trying to replicate was layered and displayed some independent development of the different parts. This would require a custom routing set-up as well as bypassing some effects on one of the oscillators.
Then I wanted to get a more cohesive sound going before I began rounding the origin sounds out, and I figured while I was there I would take a stab at getting the delay/echo effect in place. I could always turn it off it began interfering with the rest of the sound design later. I also made a few EQ adjustments to help me identify the two main parts of the sound.
Next was Noise and Feedback.I knew they were going to be a part of the sound(s), and I had a decent idea of where the setting might end up.
Now on to Inserts. Shaping the sound a little better was needed and trying to get a little closer to the horn elements was elusive to say the least. If I began changing the waveforms I started with, I lost the synth sounds I needed. So I went with Sample & Hold and the HP LP Filter.
The sound wasn’t near big enough yet, so I need to add more voices and create a little phasing, as well as spread the voices out across the stereo range.
A small amount of Virbrato was called for, as well as a small change to the attack.
The routing was next, to I made a couple quick changes while I was in th neighborhood.
With all of that done, I now had to begin making the oscillators and filters working together in a way that brought me closer to the sound I was shooting for. I was still struggling a bit to find the right balance and felt that some envelopes were in order. The bass oscillator needed a little separation in just about each of the stops along the way, and so I added a little extra by creating a small amount of delay in the envelope I would add to all of it’s oscillator parameters, as well as Modulation OSC I was going to assign to it.
Next came a few LFOs. I needed a little more life in the sounds and knew a touch more gentle phasing of the oscillators would do the trick, but I couldn’t use a traditional waveform to do it, because I would again lose what little horn appeal I was building (the synth part was much easier to get). So I went with the noise waveform, which is usually overlooked by many, but I like it for this kind of use. I also needed to do something about the filter, which weren’t doing what I was hoping for. And I had come too far in this approach to scrap the whole idea and start over (again).
In the end, this is the layout I ended up with. Take notice of the routing sliders and vary subtle use of controlling modulators throughout the synth. And before you get to frustrated with the sound you yourself have right now, don’t fret because it is not perfect…
We will need to do two things outside of Massive when using this synth to recreate the sounds heard in the original song. We need an independent bass and the presence of a horn(s) of some kind. I personally went with an Aggressive Fretless base sound and a fairly generic Funk Horn Section, both sounds were simple presets found in Logic’s library and run through the EXS24 sampler. I wanted very simple sounds that could be easily blended and lost in the main synth piece I made in Massive. And at the end of the process, it wasn’t too far off from the sound I was going for. And everything else that was needed to be done to it to make it perfect could be done when the rest of the song was tweaked, mixed and mastered.[audio:https://www.aphotoofhongkongaday.com/massive_synth/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/WEEP-Synth-.mp3|titles=WEEP Synth]
You can find the original post here in the Knowledge Bank forum, as well as a link to the song and sound in question.
I hope you enjoyed the first installment of this new Knowledge Bank series. I will be selecting a different question posed to us in the Knowledge Bank forum from time to time and answering it in the form of a tutorial, like this one in hope that it can help more people and get more people excited about using the forum itself. So if you have a questions that’s been bugging you or a sound that you can’t quite put your finger on, let us know and you just may find it being answered in a more in-depth fashion than you anticipated.