Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Plugins Modulators Note-Grid Synthwave fm-synthesis

Bitwig Tips & Tricks: Part 4 - Saving Money, Circumventing Bugs, & Making Old Synths New Again

Tutorial | Sep 10, 2020

In this video, I showed how to use the Phase 4 synthesizer in Bitwig Studio to modulate the oscillator type with an LFO or an audio-rate signal from a different track. I also showed how to circumvent a bug that can occur when using VST instruments like FM8 or Massive, which blocks the note information from the note clip. I also shared a workflow tip for using multiple clips to easily make small changes to the pattern, and how to use odd divisions on the piano roll to create interesting grooves. Finally, I talked about how to use Bitwig modulators to control parameters in VST instruments that have a small, non-resizable interface.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How can I save money on Bitwig Studio and its upgrade plans?

You can save 10% on the regular price by using the link to the Bitwig store on my web page and using my code.

How can I use an LFO as an oscillator shape in Bitwig Studio's Phase 4 synthesizer?

You can do this by setting the ratio to 0 and then modulating the phase signal at the top left. You can then use any Bitwig Studio modulators as an input for the oscillator type.

What is the best way to use Bitwig Studio to build odd grooves?

You can do this by switching to odd divisions in the piano roll, such as septal or five. This will allow you to insert some drum rolls or percussion hits off the grid.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Welcome back to another video and today it's time for part 4 of Bitwig tips and tricks.
[00:11.360] If you want to save some money on Bitwig Studio and the upgrade plans
[00:15.600] and you want to support my channel and my content, then go to my web page,
[00:19.840] use the link to the Bitwig store, use my code and save 10% on the regular price.
[00:25.120] So the first trick is basically when you use the Phase 4 synthesizer of Bitwig Studio,
[00:36.080] which looks like this. You can change the oscillator type. For instance,
[00:44.960] let's actually put this on a track here. Phase 4. Activate MIDI keyboard.
[00:55.040] And usually you have just one oscillator or operator running here, the first one.
[01:01.040] And you can switch between saw, half, and double. And if you look at the waveform here,
[01:07.440] you can see the top left. You can change the waveform. And you can also change the ratio
[01:14.880] here. And then you go to ratio 0 with the first first numerator here.
[01:24.240] You get actually a flat line. And if you go to shape 0, you get a flat line in the middle
[01:30.560] or at a zero line. And what this means is that you can use an LFO for instance.
[01:37.360] And let's go here for this one. And you can modulate with this LFO the phase of this operator here.
[01:47.200] As you can see, there's a zero degree degree. And if we modulate here this, you can see
[01:54.400] we get some kind of vibrations. And if you speed this up here to audio-rate, we kind of can
[02:09.920] exchange the operator here with an LFO as an oscillator shape. You can of course not only use
[02:18.400] an LFO here. And maybe also switch this here to pitch. So every time I change the key on the
[02:26.320] keyboard, the LFO speed changes to the right frequency of the note I'm pressing.
[02:41.760] So you can exchange the operators here with LFOs as an oscillator shape by just going
[02:55.760] here with the ratio to zero. And then modulating here at the top left the phase signal.
[03:02.880] You can also of course use here for instance audio-rate. And with audio-rate you can just go to
[03:12.400] a different channel or track. Maybe we go here to... We take a vinyl sample on a different track.
[03:21.680] Okay. We can mute this. And then we go here with the audio-rate modulator and grab the signal.
[03:30.480] vinyl 1 pre. And now when we play here, you can see we have here a modulation happening.
[03:38.560] And then we modulate here the phase. And then you hit the key on the keyboard. You actually use
[03:47.760] the sound or the audio from a different track as an oscillator. And then you can apply all the
[03:55.040] modulations inside here of the phase 4 as you know it. So for instance we just mute one operator
[04:03.440] here. Then we just use the second operator B here. And then we bring in modulate phase modulation
[04:10.160] by this noise signal. So you can use all modulators of Bitwig Studio as an input for the oscillator
[04:26.240] type in phase 4. So tip number 2 is actually circumventing a bug. So if you have some kind of audio
[04:34.880] effects from Bitwig Studio on the track, so we just use your frequency shifter.
[04:42.400] And we add some kind of modulator using the notes of a note clip. So we are using an ADS R
[04:50.880] modulating something. It doesn't matter which device exactly. It happens with all devices.
[04:57.760] And then we add some notes here. You can see the ADS R picks up all the notes and modulates the
[05:05.760] range here as expected. But when you start and add an, for instance, native instrument VST plug
[05:13.920] in in front of the audio effect. And then we hit play. You can see there are no notes coming
[05:23.840] to the modulator here. So in fact the FM8 is blocking all the signals from the note clip here.
[05:32.320] So the only way to change this is by disabling FM8, which is not what you want, or just put this
[05:44.000] into a container. So click FM8 and then hit control and G. And you open up an instrument layer with
[05:50.560] one layer where the FM8 is on. And then it just works. So you need to put certain VST instruments
[05:59.600] into a layer to actually make sure that all the note informations are going through to all
[06:07.200] devices of Bitwig Studio. And I think it's only native instrument devices that are doing this.
[06:13.760] So contact FM8 and massive and so on. So the next tip is more like a workflow tip,
[06:22.000] which I'm using all the time. So people ask me sometimes why I'm using separate clips
[06:29.120] for this. Yeah, as you can see, because Bitwig supports looping clips like this.
[06:35.040] The problem with this is it's nice. Actually, because you can change the first clip
[06:43.680] and all the other clips are changing too, right? So you can see all clips are now playing this pattern.
[06:52.080] The problem with this is that most of the times I want to change certain clips
[06:58.960] by small amounts. So it's actually pretty, yeah, it takes too long to actually just cut this up.
[07:11.600] Now go in here and then change something. Maybe change this to this and see,
[07:18.000] I need this here. So I need to cut this out and go in here and change something to this.
[07:24.240] Maybe, okay. So it takes far too long for me actually. It's quite easier to actually
[07:32.880] just have one clip here. Hit multiple times, duplicate, control and D and then step into one of
[07:39.760] these clips and yeah, just make adjustments, right? So going in here,
[07:47.200] there, click in in here, change this and so on. So it's much faster for me actually to duplicate
[07:53.120] these clips and then go into each clip and change minor things because I want to have changed
[08:00.400] all the time everywhere by small amounts. I actually never have just one clip running through the
[08:08.560] whole track with just one pattern. So this is for me quite or more easy to handle than just cutting
[08:18.960] these clips into small chunks and then editing. So it's much easier to just have this by default
[08:28.000] to have all the clips separated. And as you can see, I have also
[08:33.440] modulations or automation on the clips here. So when I use one clip here in Heaven,
[08:40.480] I think I modulated the pitch here of the FM8. I want to have this on all clips, right? And
[08:47.360] doesn't work with the looping here. I can see the modulation or the automation is just on the
[08:54.000] one first bit here. Then I have to separately duplicate also the
[09:01.920] yeah, the automation. So I think I have to switch here to this and then go like this. So it's quite
[09:09.600] easier to just duplicate the clips for me at least in my workflow to have instead a looping one
[09:19.680] looping clip or cloning the first clip. So that's tip number three, I think. So when you're on
[09:26.560] the piano roll and you can see you have one clip or one bar, you have certain divisions. So we have
[09:32.000] four sections inside this one bar clip. So this is one, two, three, four, okay. And then inside
[09:40.960] these sections, you have of course also divisions of one, two, three, four. And sometimes
[09:51.360] when you want to build some grooves, you need some odd divisions so you can go down here.
[09:56.320] And you have usually adaptive active, which means when you zoom in and zoom out, the grid changes a
[10:03.840] bit or actually gets more divisions, but most of these divisions are straight. So you can change
[10:11.360] here to odd divisions. So for instance, if you switch to septal here, you can see now a seven
[10:17.360] down here, which means now we have seven steps between each of these in each of these sections.
[10:24.320] As you can see here, instead of one, two, three, four, we have now one, two, three, four, five, six,
[10:31.680] seven, okay. And then you also can switch to five here. So we have now five steps, one, two,
[10:39.760] three, four, five, okay. And this way you can build odd grooves so you can insert some drum rolls or
[10:48.560] a certain percussion hits quite of the grid. Okay. So maybe try out and use your some different
[10:59.280] settings when you paint in some notes or some drum hits. It can quite be helpful sometimes.
[11:10.960] So the last step is actually not really a tip. It's more like common knowledge
[11:15.600] between or underbit with users. For instance, if you have this FM8 here and inside the FM8,
[11:26.240] you have of course some operators. You can see here we can maybe just use a note clip here.
[11:31.760] I make some kind of bass sound. You can use your the envelopes, of course. Inside the FM8,
[11:51.680] so we're using the envelope here of the operator E, which phase modulates the operator F here.
[12:03.840] You can make quite short
[12:10.240] short modulations, but actually if you make some bass sounds or mid-range bass sounds,
[12:17.440] you need most of the times pretty slow,
[12:25.280] pretty slow modulations. And sometimes maybe add here some tube.
[12:37.840] And sometimes most of these interfaces are, as the FM8 is pretty old actually,
[12:45.600] so the interface is not resizable. You're stuck with this small window here for the envelopes and
[12:50.880] you have to make some fitly edits. And it's quite tedious to work with these envelopes here.
[13:01.040] So if you don't need fast envelopes and you can stick here with the initial setting gate,
[13:08.560] and just use Bitwig to modulate here the this modulation inside. As you can see it's just a level.
[13:18.560] So you go to the FM8 here and you can see when you modulate this, you get here this
[13:24.880] this knob inside Bitwig. And of course you can add your one
[13:30.960] modulator, in this case here it's an LFO, and just modulate this knob.
[13:37.200] And you can add this to all kinds of operators here inside FM8.
[13:53.120] Which is the most cases easier than just fiddling around with all these envelopes inside
[14:09.920] the small interface of FM8. So when you have an old synth you really like,
[14:14.720] try this out, add modulators to the VST and use the modulators of Bitwig studio to make your old
[14:25.520] synth new again. I know I said this in many videos that you can do this in Bitwig studio,
[14:33.040] but this is a pretty powerful tip actually. And I'm using it with the FM8 all the time to add
[14:39.360] modulators in front of FM8 and modulate all this stuff here inside FM8. It can even modulate
[14:47.120] sometimes I think FX, as you can see here, the the drive of the tube amp can just modulate us,
[14:55.520] which is actually not possible inside FM8 with just the native interface.
[15:00.960] I think you can do a lot more. That's it for this video. Thanks for watching.
[15:11.440] Please leave a like if you liked the video, leave a comment if you have some questions,
[15:15.360] subscribe to Patreon. It really helps. Thanks for all the subscribers already.
[15:19.280] I'll see you in the next video. Bye.