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How to Create a SynthWave Track in Bitwig Studio

Tutorial | Fri Feb 11 2022 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

In this video, I show how to create a simple SynthWave track in Bitwig Studio. I demonstrate how to create a dreamy lead sound, a bass sound, and a drum beat. I also discuss how to use a breath controller and arpeggiator to make the track more interesting. Additionally, I talk about how to use a VHS preset and a texture plugin to add texture and atmosphere to the track. Finally, I show how to arrange the track into a cohesive song.

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Questions & Answers

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

What is SynthWave?

SynthWave is a genre of electronic music that originated in the 1980s. It is characterized by its use of vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments, as well as its dark and atmospheric soundscapes.

What audio station does the video use to make a SynthWave track?

The video uses Bitwig Studio to make a SynthWave track. However, the same techniques can be used in other audio stations.

How can I make a SynthWave track in Bitwig Studio?

To make a SynthWave track in Bitwig Studio, one needs to start by selecting a BPM and creating a new clip. Then they need to create a synth lead sound, most likely using the Polycent or Bullet Synth. Then they need to create a drum pattern, a chord progression, and a bass line. To make the track more interesting, one can add a saxophone, an arpeggiator, and various effects.


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] Hey folks, welcome back to another video, today it's about SynthWave and I try to show
[00:13.120] you how you can make a super simple SynthWave track in Bitwig Studio.
[00:18.480] You can also maybe do this in other audio rock stations because not much of that is
[00:23.880] actually Bitwig specific.
[00:26.560] I'm not a SynthWave producer myself.
[00:29.160] I know some tips and tricks here and there, but if you want to see real SynthWave production
[00:35.040] then I highly recommend you the channel of pilot which he does a lot of live streams showing
[00:42.120] how you make SynthWave the right way.
[00:44.760] I'll put the link in the description of course.
[00:46.840] So let's start and have some fun.
[00:50.160] Okay, so how do we start?
[00:53.160] We start from scratch in Bitwig Studio but you can probably do this in every audio rock
[00:58.520] station.
[00:59.520] You don't need to use Bitwig but at some points, at some occasions, I would use probably
[01:05.920] some Bitwig specific stuff.
[01:08.120] So let's start here with the BPM maybe, with the new one, 115 and maybe we create a new
[01:15.200] clip here for bars and maybe we should create some kind of Synth Dreamy lead sound.
[01:25.400] We can use for our quads and maybe we use the call Synth here or we can use also polymer.
[01:33.960] I show it first with the bullet Synth so we just need to turn down the low pass on this
[01:41.000] one, increase unison, release longer, take a bit with my release.
[01:53.120] A polyscent already sounds pretty 80s, I would say.
[02:07.480] And on that we can put the rotary, or rotary, and maybe a re-bub.
[02:28.080] I would say it sounds pretty nice already.
[02:44.800] Maybe we use your velocity for our filter envelope depth so the more you put pressure on your
[02:54.040] keys, maybe we use velocity also here for unison a bit and maybe we put a random modulation
[03:14.600] here onto the pitch, so we modulate the pitch tiny bits we have kind of tape, you know,
[03:24.940] maybe we use your full pass, a full pole low pass.
[03:53.260] That should be nice or quads, okay, maybe let's start with this first, yeah, switch back
[04:05.220] to the one pole or two pole, yeah, let's lay down some notes here, maybe we start with
[04:16.140] A, so in A minor, and we start completely simple with an A minor chord, which is 2, note,
[04:24.300] then a minor third, which is 1, 2, 3, and then a perfect fifth, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, this
[04:39.660] is a minor seventh, and we use the root note as a base here also, maybe we pitch this
[04:53.340] down an octave, so super simple, minor seventh chord, and then duplicate this, and then
[05:07.900] we make it, we do it pretty simple, we just switch around in seventh, so when you go seven
[05:18.420] semitones up, you are basically a fifth, up, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, okay, then you go
[05:29.820] an octave lower, it's basically just 5 semitones lower, so it's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, okay, so it's
[05:38.620] the same basically, here we go seven up, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 5 down, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
[05:48.100] okay, so we're just switching around the circle of fifth in just, you know, fifth steps,
[05:56.260] this sounds like this, and so, also sounds pretty simple, but it's already kind of
[06:11.060] synth wavy, but we make some changes here to some of the notes, maybe we can flip this
[06:18.220] up here, so we have this closer to this note, and maybe bring this down, and we can,
[06:38.980] it's there, we have an easy, easy flow of notes here at the top, here's this note here,
[06:59.940] could be also something, maybe just leave it that way, and bring in here, humanise, we want
[07:27.180] to let or randomise the velocity a bit, velocity a bit down, we can also modulate or randomise
[07:46.300] here, the velocity with this one,
[08:06.620] I think this is better, what we also can do is just chunk this up here in multiple parts,
[08:27.500] it's join or control jg on the keyboard, so we consolidate each part, and then we put
[08:37.900] this into the clip launcher, and delete this here, and then you can do the play button here,
[08:49.140] and go to launch quantization, and then put this instead of whole bars, you can also go
[08:54.260] here in sub-divisions of bars, so maybe one eight, so eight notes basically, so every time
[09:03.220] you press the key here, this is quantized to eight note grid, so we can record this here,
[09:12.540] while pressing the play button here, and play around with the order of the quads, let's
[09:20.620] do this, right, so you can play around with this, but before we start with the order of
[09:33.820] the quads, we maybe should create some kind of drums, so I use a drum machine here, and
[09:39.540] for eight or 80 songs or synthwave drums, we maybe should use some 80 drum samples, so
[09:47.540] I search for a linn drum, so maybe something like this, okay, maybe a snare, maybe a i-hat,
[10:17.540] and maybe some, some tones, let's put these in here, and later on then for fill in, of
[10:42.460] course, let's create a small pattern, reduce the snare drum and ring this out a bit, double
[11:02.060] content, and also velocity on the snare's here, a bit down, so we don't need to,
[11:30.780] use side chaining, there you can also here, use for the velocity, spreading a bit here,
[11:48.220] so it's a bit different every time, so a bit randomization, brings a bit of life, you
[11:52.660] know, so you do this by just holding out on the keyboard and then dragging, maybe
[12:17.620] duplicate this again, we'll content and bring in here, the tones,
[12:47.620] so I keep it simple, make you rev up,
[13:02.620] every time a kick comes in, we duck the reverb away,
[13:32.620] and then we do the heat limiter, maybe next here,
[14:02.620] a bit, remove the high end here from the reverb a bit, so it should be okay,
[14:19.620] so next up we gonna lay out the structure of the synth wave chord progression here,
[14:33.620] touch it with this first chord and just record it, actually this one was not so great,
[14:50.620] maybe make all these things here a bit longer, 100%, so we have more time,
[15:15.620] it should be nice, so we can select everything here, hit also control and G,
[15:24.620] to consolidate here, this clip, you can see we have now here a chord progression that is
[15:30.620] a bit more rhythmic because not everything is exactly on the point here,
[15:36.620] what it's quantized to 8 notes, so it's fairly okay on the grid,
[15:58.620] maybe we change here a bit the sound of the length,
[16:15.620] so now that we have here the chords, we have also our bass note,
[16:22.620] which is the lowest note here, we can use for the bass synthesizer,
[16:30.620] maybe use the polystyrene here, and now we can just duplicate here this track
[16:35.620] and use it down below and kill everything away and leave only the bass notes for the synth,
[16:46.620] also just use a note we see right here, get the notes from the top channel,
[16:56.620] want it after humanize, but now we get all notes, what you can do now is use the chord that
[17:06.620] we have here, this one is the pre-plug-in made by myself and on Thomas with this chord,
[17:16.620] this is completely free and can select here one note, maybe the first one or the second note,
[17:23.620] right you can select basically here, this is 0, 1, 2, 3 and so on,
[17:30.620] and then just load with this and use an obituator here,
[17:38.620] so maybe just pick another one on this one,
[18:08.620] so
[18:28.620] maybe this, maybe I just shoot, so we can modify it also a bit,
[18:54.620] so in the synth wave it's basically all about saw waves and unison and chorus
[19:21.620] and making it dreamy and keeping it simple from the wave forms,
[19:27.620] so you probably don't need to wave table and synthesize for this, I don't want
[19:56.620] also always nice to mix in a bit of noise here, not too much, but just a bit,
[20:02.620] gives us a bit of extra and fills up the spectrum,
[20:28.620] or you use oscillator 2 for the bass and oscillator 1, it's a bit more of a lead sound on top of the bass
[20:55.620] so the next step is a bit strange and that's only what I do most of the times,
[21:01.620] so I transpose everything to D sharp minor, so we are on A minor here at the moment,
[21:10.620] so we go up to D sharp here, and also this one, these quads here,
[21:19.620] now we can go to a new sound and use the same synth again, the lead sound,
[21:27.620] just modify it a bit, and I play a melody on the keyboard and when I switch here to my webcam,
[21:38.620] when I play on the keyboard I can now use D sharp here,
[21:44.620] and all the play keys to play in D sharp minor pentatonic, which is pretty nice for making melodies,
[21:54.620] if you can play A minor pentatonic from the top of your head without transposing around,
[22:02.620] you don't need to transpose around, but I do it most of the times and pretty easy to play melodies on this,
[22:09.620] so let's see,
[22:26.620] something like this, this is what it looks like here,
[22:33.620] and the benefit is when you play this on the keyboard that you get in a lot of information that you don't have when you play it,
[22:40.620] or when you paint it in with the mouse, for instance all the different velocity settings,
[22:47.620] maybe some rhythmic changes as you can see here, I'm not perfectly on the grid,
[22:51.620] so you get a lot of humanization for free, and modulation and randomization for free when you play it with the keyboard,
[22:59.620] and you also can jam to your track and it sounds much more natural in my opinion when you play it in a keyboard.
[23:06.620] Yeah, I'm much more reverbed here for the lead sound.
[23:37.620] So it's basically the easiest way to make synth wave in Bitwig,
[23:43.620] just by doing it how I did it, and one step after the other,
[23:55.620] so we've already hit drum machine also in here because we hit record,
[24:00.620] so if you lead sound, if you bass sound, you have some basic drum, some basic chord progression here,
[24:07.620] and you can also sneak in here at some points,
[24:12.620] weird chords or chord progression, for instance you can, instead of using your B sharp minor,
[24:23.620] you can also go to, this would be a sus too, or I'll comment it.
[24:40.620] Right, you can just move some chords around and change the chord shapes here at certain points if you want to,
[24:46.620] make it a bit more different and a bit more spicy and more interesting,
[24:51.620] and it's one, but I just try to keep it simple basically,
[24:56.620] but you can go nuts with this, of course, right?
[25:12.620] Also, we have here the aberture that we can also dial in here sometimes,
[25:16.620] maybe a 7th note or 12th.
[25:21.620] Oh, it needs us maybe a bit of queuing here and there.
[25:51.620] Put this bit down, okay. Let's go on it, lead here, this is the bass,
[26:14.620] a machine chords, nice. What else can we do?
[26:21.620] Maybe we bring in some kind of saxophone, and there's a video made while back,
[26:31.620] by used here, the reactor or silverwood sax, which is a free download on the Native Instruments website,
[26:41.620] and this is basically just a reactor patch, looks like this,
[26:46.620] and you need the breath controller to play this.
[26:49.620] And in Bitwig here, I use some, it's a magic from the grip basically,
[26:57.620] to modulate here some MIDI CC controllers to change the breath,
[27:03.620] which is basically you need to modulate CC2 and CC13,
[27:08.620] change something, and here I modulate the mod view on my keyboard.
[27:25.620] You can also use an MPE controller, which is much better,
[27:28.620] because you just move around with the pressure and with the thumb bar,
[27:33.620] you can slide up and down on the MPE controller, you can also,
[27:38.620] kind of pitch band individually on each note, and it sounds much more alive.
[27:43.620] But you can also just use a MIDI controller like I do here,
[27:47.620] I just use here the mod view on the side, right, so you can play a note.
[27:54.620] And obviously this is fake, because no saxophone player can hold the breath that long.
[28:14.620] And then you put some reverb on it, and it comes pretty nice.
[28:18.620] Let's use here. Re-supermassive.
[28:35.620] I also play again on D sharp minor, which is only the black keys,
[28:40.620] which is perfect for melodies.
[28:45.620] Switch back here to desktop, but let's record something here on this track.
[29:15.620] So this is maybe something we can use then in our arrangement,
[29:20.620] but we can also maybe bring in here some arpeggios,
[29:29.620] so we use a new track here, pull this down, use again a Polysnth.
[29:36.620] I really love the Polysnth just for using making a synth wave sound,
[29:42.620] it instantly sounds like eddies.
[29:45.620] We have this, and we use an arpeggiator.
[29:50.620] Maybe switch to different mode here.
[29:57.620] We have this, and we need reverb and delay.
[30:27.620] And we can remove the bass notes in this one.
[30:58.620] We correct the notes here a bit to the...
[31:04.620] Like this, maybe also.
[31:35.620] And we can also use a new track here on D sharp minor,
[31:41.620] which is a bit of a delay.
[31:46.620] We can also use a new track here on D sharp minor,
[31:52.620] which is a bit of a delay.
[31:58.620] Or maybe, I think it's okay so far.
[32:22.620] And then insert here some automation part,
[32:30.620] because we don't want to,
[32:35.620] don't want to have to arpeggiator all the time up here,
[32:41.620] and modulate this knob here, right?
[32:46.620] It's low down.
[33:16.620] So just use here, make this longer,
[33:19.620] basically loop it, and then hit Ctrl and G,
[33:23.620] to consolidate into one clip.
[33:26.620] And then do here in the second one,
[33:29.620] maybe switch some notes around.
[33:55.620] We have this, then we go to the up, and maybe then we have here at the end.
[34:02.620] And maybe we'll do this a bit longer here.
[34:10.620] Maybe let's record something here.
[34:28.620] So if a second part here, that's something missing here.
[34:45.620] Let's not.
[35:05.620] Let's go.
[35:23.620] Let's just be up there sooner.
[35:45.620] Let's go.
[36:03.620] You can also automate here, maybe the cut off a bit.
[36:28.620] For instance, we could open up the cut off at the end of each segment here a bit more.
[36:42.620] We have more like a distinct transition from each segment to each segment.
[36:59.620] Maybe we could put some control on there to do everything together a bit.
[37:14.620] Let's go.
[37:35.620] It needs to be a low cut.
[37:51.620] Let's see if there's a lot of rumble.
[38:06.620] Let's see if there's a lot of rumble.
[38:24.620] Let's see if there's a lot of rumble.
[38:46.620] And then you probably have a lot of synth wave tutorial.
[38:57.620] And if you're producing for a while, then you probably have a lot of VSTs laying around.
[39:03.620] Let's see if there's a lot of rumble.
[39:24.620] It's also about texture of course.
[39:36.620] You can also use your VHS, which is also a free reactor preset.
[39:56.620] Why does it ring?
[40:07.620] A lot of noise here.
[40:36.620] It's a bit too much, but maybe you can use it on certain sounds where you want to have this aesthetic,
[40:47.620] or if you want to make wave or wave or something, maybe this could be interesting for you.
[41:00.620] And the back, the motion, also reverb on here.
[41:10.620] Maybe you'll start higher on the bass, tape, tape machine, pull down here the tape speed,
[41:25.620] and it gets a bit muffled.
[41:35.620] If you have a real tape machine at home, then you probably don't need to use that here.
[41:47.620] But it's, you know, synth wave, it's all about textures and getting the atmosphere of the ADs, so you need a lot of texture.
[42:02.620] Oh, there's also a plugin I made for myself.
[42:05.620] So if you don't have this RC20 here, I think it's called texture.
[42:12.620] Or textures, actually, there's also video about it, you can search for polarity and textures.
[42:19.620] It looks like this, and it does basically the same here for texture here.
[42:26.620] Or you can choose a different texture here.
[42:31.620] Write something like this, and then you can follow the wave of the input sound with AM here.
[42:43.620] You can do basically the same that I did here with RC20.
[43:02.620] And if you want to use this flutter and wow effect here, then you can of course use the rotary again here.
[43:15.620] Basically the same.
[43:31.620] Maybe it's nice to randomize this here a bit.
[43:43.620] Or you can use both.
[44:04.620] And this would be a nice part here, maybe to lay down some vocals or something and go crazy with that.
[44:31.620] Maybe with the recorder, I don't know.
[44:34.620] There are a lot of ways to build this space here.
[44:37.620] And then you have to basically arrange it a bit more.
[44:40.620] And yeah, so you have a lot of parts here.
[44:43.620] Maybe this is for the vocals.
[44:45.620] Then for the bridge here, you get this saxophone.
[44:49.620] Maybe you change the bass or move some bass notes in the intro.
[44:54.620] I don't know.
[44:55.620] There are a lot of ways basically.
[44:57.620] You can create some material we can use for our arrangement.
[45:01.620] You maybe can also drag this here into the clip launcher and then arrange it from there.
[45:07.620] It's also possible.
[45:10.620] Maybe here on the thing we can use to elevate maybe the how this sounds.
[45:17.620] It's maybe too much.
[45:18.620] So too much compression is bad for synth wave in my opinion.
[45:23.620] You know, in the 80s, we didn't have all these sophisticated tools here.
[45:29.620] It can bring out that much loudness.
[45:33.620] Or we can use school force or maybe unfilter.
[46:03.620] That's it for this video.
[46:27.620] Thanks for watching.
[46:28.620] Please hit like if you liked the video, subscribe to the channel and I'll see you in the next video.
[46:33.620] Thanks for watching and bye.