Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers

Since there is no seperate dedicated community/forum category for Synthesis techniques (as far as I know)…

For those who want to explore various more ‘advanced’ synthesis techniques, beyond the most common subtractive synthesis (shaping sound with filters)…

Check out ‘Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers’, by James Clark (see below)

Yes, it’s using the Nord Modular environment for its examples, but most of it can be translated to any modular environment, including VCV Rack.

It’s going way beyond the already pretty informative Nord Modular User Manual.

‘Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers’ is basically a summary of of a bunch of more ‘advanced’ synthesis techniques, describing what the technique is, how it works, and how to implement it in a modular environment. Both in text and graphics.

Have fun exploring…

Advanced Programming Techniques for Modular Synthesizers

(c) James Clark 2003

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

1.1 The Purpose of this Document 1.2 Acknowledgements

2 Oscillator Waveform Modification

2.1 Sync 2.2 Frequency Modulation Techniques 2.3 Wave Shaping 2.4 Vector Synthesis 2.5 Wave Sequencing 2.6 Audio-Rate Crossfading 2.7 Wave Terrain Synthesis 2.8 VOSIM 2.9 FOF Synthesis 2.10 Granular Synthesis

3 Filter Techniques

3.1 Resonant Filters as Oscillators 3.2 Serial and Parallel Filter Techniques 3.3 Audio-Rate Filter Cutoff Modulation 3.4 Adding Analog Feel 3.5 Wet Filters

4 Noise Generation

4.1 White Noise 4.2 Brown Noise 4.3 Pink Noise 4.4 Pitched Noise

5 Percussion

5.1 Bass Drum Synthesis 5.2 Snare Drum Synthesis 5.3 Synthesis of Gongs, Bells and Cymbals 5.4 Synthesis of Hand Claps

6 Additive Synthesis

6.1 What is Additive Synthesis? 6.2 Resynthesis 6.3 Group Additive Synthesis 6.4 Morphing 6.5 Transients 6.7 Which Oscillator to Use

7 Physical Modeling

7.1 Introduction to Physical Modeling 7.2 The Karplus-Strong Algorithm 7.3 Tuning of Delay Lines 7.4 Delay Line Details 7.5 Physical Modeling with Digital Waveguides 7.6 String Modeling 7.7 Woodwind Modeling 7.8 Related Links

8 Speech Synthesis and Processing

8.1 Vocoder Techniques 8.2 Speech Synthesis 8.3 Pitch Tracking

9 Using the Logic Modules

9.1 Complex Logic Functions 9.2 Flipflops, Counters other Sequential Elements 9.3 Asynchronous Elements 9.4 Arpeggiation

10 Algorithmic Composition

10.1 Chaos and Fractal Music 10.2 Cellular Automata 10.3 Cooking Noodles

11 Reverb and Echo Effects

11.1 Synthetic Echo and Reverb 11.2 Short-Time Reverb 11.3 Low-Fidelity Echo and Reverb

12 Distortion Effects

12.1 Distortion using Nonlinearities 12.2 Multiband Distortion 12.3 Polynomial Distortion 12.4 Distortion using Time-Variant Systems

13 Frequency and Pitch Shifting

13.1 Frequency Shifting 13.2 Pitch Shifting

14 Spatialization 15 Emulating Classic Synths

15.1 General Guidelines 15.2 Yamaha DX7 15.3 Octave Cat 15.4 ARP Odyssey 15.5 Casio 15.6 Hallsey Mark 1 and 2 15.7 Other Emulations

A pdf file of the complete book can be downloaded from A file containing all of the patches in book can be downloaded from