Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Audio-FX Grid Sound-Design Preset Synthesis

Creating Trumpet Sounds with Subtractive Synthesis in Bitwig Grid

Tutorial | Jul 24, 2023

In this video, I demonstrate how to create a trumpet or saxophone sound in Bitwig's grid using subtractive synthesis. I avoid using samples, wavetables, or physical modeling. The sound is shaped using pinch and bend modules, as well as a phaser, before going through a filter and an amplitude modulation module. I also add filtered noise to simulate the air going through the horn. To simulate the characteristics of different instruments, I use fixed frequencies in an EQ module. An impulse response and delay are used to simulate room and add space to the sound. The main trick of the preset is shaping the phase signal with pinch and bend modules, which creates trumpet-like harmonics from a sine wave. I use Bitwig's expression modulator to map timbre, pitch bend, and pressure to add expression to the sound. I show how to do this in a separate polygrid. It took some time to find the right modulation amounts and timings, but the result is a cool and realistic trumpet sound. The preset is available for Patreon and YouTube subscribers, while others can try out the techniques I demonstrated.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon
You can download the Bitwig Preset for a Synthetic Trumpet on my Patreon:

Questions & Answers

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

Questions and Answers

Q1: How does the preset in the video create the trumpet or saxophone sound without using samples, wavetables, or physical modeling?

The preset in the video utilizes a simple subtractive synthesis method. It shapes the sign oscillator using the pinch band and pinch bass modules, along with a phaser. The signal then passes through a filter to remove some upper harmonics and into an amplitude modulation, ring modulation module. Additionally, filtered noise is combined with the sound to simulate the air going through the horn or saxophone. This approach is easy on the CPU, doesn't rely on samples or wavetables, and produces a cool, realistic sound.

Q2: What additional effects are used to enhance the trumpet or saxophone sound in the preset?

To further enhance the trumpet or saxophone sound, the preset includes an EQ5 module within the FX box. This module uses fixed frequencies to simulate the resonances or characteristics of the specific instrument being emulated. By amplifying certain harmonics, different sounds can be achieved, allowing for various trumpet or saxophone simulations. Additionally, an impulse response is applied to simulate the acoustics of playing the object in a real room. Finally, a delay/reverb module is used to add space or reverb to the sound.

Q3: Can the preset be customized to simulate different brass instruments?

Yes, the preset can be customized to simulate various brass instruments, including clarinet and horn. By adjusting the frequencies in the EQ5 module and potentially making other parameter changes, the sound can be transformed to match different instruments. The use of fixed frequencies allows for easy switching between instrument simulations, resulting in distinct and authentic sounds.

Q4: What is the main trick or technique used in the patch to shape the sound and generate the desired trumpet harmonics?

The main trick or technique used in the patch is shaping the phase signal of the oscillator. By disconnecting the pre-chord and feeding in a custom phase signal generated by the phaser, the waveform of the sine oscillator can be manipulated. This is achieved through the use of pinch and bend modules, which control the speed at which the cycle or waveform is played. Changing the modulation amounts and timings of these modules allows for precise shaping of the waveform, resulting in the generation of trumpet harmonics from a simple sine wave. This technique can also be explored further by experimenting with other modules such as the band module or the curve module to achieve different wave shapes and harmonic structures.


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.

[00:00:00] So in this video, it's about the preset you can see in the background.
[00:00:04] I tried to create some kind of trumpets or saxophone sound in the grid without using
[00:00:11] samples, without using a wavetable, and I don't use physical modeling.
[00:00:16] It's straight, subtractive synthesis.
[00:00:20] Super simple.
[00:00:21] It's easy on the CPU and it sounds, I would say it sounds cool.
[00:00:28] This is how it sounds.
[00:00:41] It works well with MPE keyboards, of course.
[00:00:58] Let's go deeper.
[00:00:59] Yeah, it's also nice for deep brasses.
[00:01:08] You can also bring in some space.
[00:01:27] So this preset is available for all my Patreons and also all the YouTube subscribers.
[00:01:35] For everyone else, I want to describe what I did and what the main trick is of this preset
[00:01:42] or what's the main thing about it.
[00:01:48] So the main idea is that I'm basically shaping the sign oscillator, you can see here, with
[00:01:56] the pinch band and pinch bass modules using also a phaser here.
[00:02:03] And then I'm going into a filter, removing some of the upper harmonics.
[00:02:10] And then I'm going into an amplitude modulation, ring modulation module here.
[00:02:15] And I'm combining then the sound with some noise, some filtered noise to kind of simulate
[00:02:24] the air going through the object, going through the horn or the saxophone.
[00:02:30] And yeah, that's basically it.
[00:02:31] And then I'm going here straight into the FX box.
[00:02:36] Inside of the FX box, I'm using here an EQ5 with some fixed frequencies to simulate some
[00:02:43] kind of object or the resonances of the horn or the saxophone or whatever you want to use.
[00:02:52] And of course, you can switch here from saxophone to clarinet or to horn to different objects.
[00:02:58] It sounds really, really different.
[00:03:02] Let's go in octaflowa.
[00:03:05] You can do this also in front, you don't need to go into the FX box.
[00:03:09] We can switch from sax to clarinet.
[00:03:17] And then to horn or this one or back to the sax.
[00:03:34] This is basically the power of these formats, of these fixed frequencies here.
[00:03:39] You can see there's not much happening.
[00:03:42] Just amplifying certain different harmonics and you get a completely different sound.
[00:03:51] So yeah, this is basically for simulating these different types of trumpets.
[00:03:57] And then I'm going into an impulse response here.
[00:03:59] This is the only sample I use, but it's a basic default impulse response by Bitwig itself,
[00:04:09] to simulate the room, basically that you play an object inside of a real room without it
[00:04:15] sounds way too dry.
[00:04:29] So yeah, to simulate some kind of room where you play the object and then a delay plus
[00:04:35] here for the space or for the reverb.
[00:04:37] And that's basically it.
[00:04:40] It's not much happening and it sounds, I think, pretty cool for simulating some kind of trumpet.
[00:04:48] And then of course I'm using the expression modulator from Bitwig to map timbre, so up
[00:04:55] and down movements, pitch bend and the pressure also.
[00:05:06] You can also map this here differently if you want to.
[00:05:08] So you can say instead of timbre modulating this, you can modulate this then and the pressure
[00:05:13] you modulate then here, or if you have double modulation, that's wrong.
[00:05:28] Already found the bug, nice.
[00:05:31] So yeah, this is how it works.
[00:05:33] And the main trick, like I said, is basically here shaping the phase signal with these pinch
[00:05:40] and bend modules.
[00:05:41] And I want to show you this here in a separate polygrid.
[00:05:44] Maybe I do a new one here.
[00:05:49] Device polygrid.
[00:05:52] And here we use a sign oscillator.
[00:05:56] We use an A-B-S-R.
[00:05:59] We go output here.
[00:06:04] And we also maybe use an oscilloscope and put this into pitch mode here.
[00:06:14] And then yeah, we get the sine wave out of this, really normal.
[00:06:23] And now instead of using the integrated phase here or the phase generation from the pre-chord,
[00:06:31] we switch the pre-chord off and switch it to zero to one.
[00:06:35] So now you can see the oscillator is not oscillating anymore.
[00:06:38] We have to lead in some kind of phase signal.
[00:06:42] And we can generate a phase signal dependent on the pitch with the phaser.
[00:06:47] You can see we have also here a pitch pre-chord or a key pre-chord.
[00:06:52] You can feed this here into the phase input and say 100%.
[00:06:57] And now it's like before.
[00:07:00] The only difference is now that we can hook up something in between the phaser and the
[00:07:04] sine oscillator to shape the signal.
[00:07:08] And we do this here with the pinch.
[00:07:12] And when we change the pinch setting, you can see we also change the waveform itself
[00:07:20] because we play the cycle or the waveform the cycle differently at different speeds.
[00:07:27] We play this slowly and then here we play it faster.
[00:07:31] So we shape basically how the waveform looks like.
[00:07:35] And this gives you some overtones.
[00:07:37] All right.
[00:07:38] And when you use multiple of these, you can squeeze this even more.
[00:07:48] And then all you have to do is to modulate this in the perfect timing.
[00:07:55] So we use an expression module and say, let's go for a timbre modulators.
[00:08:09] And then you get these typical trumpet harmonics out of a sine wave just with these two pinch
[00:08:15] modules here.
[00:08:16] So this is basically the main trick of this whole patch to do this.
[00:08:22] And I want to inspire you to try it for yourself to play around with these modules here.
[00:08:29] You can also try out to use a band here.
[00:08:32] It gives you also some different outcomes.
[00:08:39] Or maybe use a transfer module or the curve module is also possible, I think, here.
[00:08:45] You can shape them, you know, get different wave shapes out of this.
[00:08:51] So pretty, pretty interesting technique.
[00:08:55] I think the transfer module should work too, but this is your bipolar.
[00:09:00] So you only need to shape here the upper part, right?
[00:09:03] You can see we have a different effect here on the wave shape itself.
[00:09:09] So you get different sounds out of this or different harmonics.
[00:09:16] This is the main idea behind this patch.
[00:09:20] The hardest part of this patch is basically that you have to find the right modulation
[00:09:26] amounts and what to modulate and in which timings.
[00:09:30] And this, this to figure out took me a long time.
[00:09:34] This patch itself, the build was pretty quick, maybe 10 minutes, 15 minutes, I don't know,
[00:09:40] but then it took one day.
[00:09:43] Find all the sweet spots for the right settings for this.
[00:09:46] So yeah, this is my idea for how to build a trumpet inside of the grid.
[00:09:52] Like I said, you can download the preset on my Patreon or as a YouTube member.
[00:09:58] And for everyone else, I think it's pretty interesting how you can shape things with
[00:10:03] the phase input of an oscillator.
[00:10:06] You can also try this out with the wave table oscillator itself to shape the wave tables
[00:10:11] even more.
[00:10:12] But yeah, it's pretty powerful.
[00:10:15] You can create trumpets with just the sign oscillator.
[00:10:19] Pretty easy and nice.
[00:10:21] So that's it for this video.
[00:10:23] Thanks for watching.
[00:10:24] Leave a like if you liked the video, subscribe to the channel, subscribe to Patreon, download
[00:10:28] this stuff here and have some fun.
[00:10:31] Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.
[00:10:33] Bye.