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Exploring Additive Synthesis: Unleashing the Power of Voice Spread in the Grid

Tutorial | Oct 19, 2023

In this video, I explore the voice spread feature in Bitwig Studio 5.1 and demonstrate how it can be used to create an additive synthesizer using the Grid and other devices. By adjusting parameters such as voice stacking, pitch offset, and volume, I show how to spread frequencies and manipulate partials to create unique sounds. The possibilities for sound design and modulation with voice stacking in Bitwig Studio are endless.

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Questions & Answers

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

What topics are covered in this video?

The topics covered in this video are voice spread and how to utilize it to create an additive synthesizer in Bitwig Studio's Grid. The video goes into detail on different ways to spread frequencies, using stack modulators, and manipulating partials and volume levels for each voice.

What options are available for spreading frequencies in the additive synthesizer?

There are multiple options for spreading frequencies in the additive synthesizer. These include using stack spread modulators, modulating the pitch offset, using pitch quantizers, changing the modulation amounts, and utilizing different modes such as straight, harmonic relationships, random, and more. Each option allows for different variations and sound possibilities.

How can the voice stacking and modulators be used for sound design?

Voice stacking and modulators can be used for sound design by manipulating the settings for each partial or voice. This includes changing the pitch offset, skew, AD settings, and volume levels. By modulating these parameters, you can create unique and intricate sounds, mimic certain instruments, and experiment with different harmonic relationships and overtones.


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] Hey folks, welcome back to another video.
[00:00:02] So I initially planned to make a long video about 5.1, but it's just too much information,
[00:00:08] so I think it's better to spread it out and focus on certain topics in certain videos.
[00:00:14] So on this one here, I want to focus on the voice spread and also how you can utilize this
[00:00:20] to make an additive synthesizer with the grid and other devices.
[00:00:25] So here is the pulley grid.
[00:00:26] We have it in monophonic mode.
[00:00:28] Voice stacking is off, right?
[00:00:29] To make an additive synth, we need multiple sine partials on different frequencies, right?
[00:00:35] So we take here a sine oscillator.
[00:00:37] We take an envelope here and we take an audio output and we have basically just a monophonic
[00:00:46] sine oscillator synth.
[00:00:48] You also use your peak limiter just to make sure and we lower the volume maybe by 5 or
[00:00:53] 6.
[00:00:56] And then we go back here to the device parameter and we want to use multiple sine partials
[00:01:02] and we can do this by increasing here the voice stacking up to 16 voices.
[00:01:07] So now each sine partial or sine oscillator on each voice plays on the same frequency,
[00:01:13] so it's just getting louder.
[00:01:15] Nothing else happens.
[00:01:17] So we need to spread out these frequencies and we can do this in multiple ways, right?
[00:01:23] The first easy way would be to use here the new stack modulators.
[00:01:28] We can use here stack spread.
[00:01:30] Looks like this.
[00:01:32] And we get basically a value between 0 and 1.
[00:01:35] So we can take this output here and can say we want to increase here the pitch offset,
[00:01:41] right?
[00:01:42] So each voice gets a different number between 0 and 1.
[00:01:45] So maybe when we modulate this here by let's say 24 semitones, right?
[00:01:52] Voice 0 doesn't do anything, so it's pitch 0, which means it's the root or the fundamental.
[00:01:59] And then the first voice gets maybe, I don't know, 2 semitones up.
[00:02:05] The second voice gets 4 semitones up and so on.
[00:02:08] So it depends on how much you modulate your basically the pitch offset, right?
[00:02:13] And I also want to use here maybe a spectrum so we can see how it looks like.
[00:02:22] So this is how it sounds, right?
[00:02:24] We get just a big pile of frequencies and we can spread this more out here.
[00:02:38] Right?
[00:02:44] So it's all about using here this voice spread or stack spread modulator to spread out the
[00:02:52] frequencies on each voice differently.
[00:02:54] You can also influence here with some manual sliders how this pans out, but I don't want
[00:03:00] to go into that.
[00:03:01] I want to explain you basically all these parameters, all these options.
[00:03:05] So we just used here 0 to 1, right?
[00:03:08] We can also use minus 1 to plus 1, which means some voices or voices 0 actually goes to minus,
[00:03:16] let's say we modulate this here by 12.
[00:03:19] So it goes to minus 12 semitones, right?
[00:03:23] So we get frequencies for the oscillator below the root node or the key input you are using
[00:03:28] on your keyboard.
[00:03:30] We can also go to value here and then use different values here, manual or we can go
[00:03:39] for flipped simple reciprocal calls.
[00:03:42] It's a hard word to spell for me, reciprocal calls, right?
[00:03:49] And then we can also increase this.
[00:03:53] So the distances or the ratios between the partials are different, dependent on what
[00:03:58] kind of mode you are using here.
[00:04:00] We can also use straight.
[00:04:01] You can see harmonic relationships.
[00:04:03] So the first voice is one, the second voice is one and a half or an half and a fourth
[00:04:10] and so on, right?
[00:04:11] So harmonic relationships.
[00:04:16] And you can spread this out by changing here the modulation amount.
[00:04:24] And sometimes you get really, really nice belly or atonal sounds out of this.
[00:04:31] Okay, so this is an option.
[00:04:39] You have multiple things you can try out here.
[00:04:43] Golden prime straight is interesting, but you can also use your randomized.
[00:04:48] So when you go for random, then this number here is modulated by random.
[00:04:53] Each voice gets a different random number.
[00:04:59] Let's go here to random up down.
[00:05:13] So you get random outcomes for the frequency can be interesting sometimes.
[00:05:20] If you want to stay harmonic instead of modulating here the semitones on the oscillator itself,
[00:05:30] we can also use here a pitch in and then let's say a transpose and quantizer.
[00:05:43] So we quantize everything to a scale and then we use this here for the transpose.
[00:05:52] Let's go all the way up.
[00:06:05] So then each partial or each sine oscillator kind of is in the scale.
[00:06:15] So you can change the scale here of course with the pitch quantize and then you can make
[00:06:20] these kind of overtones harmonic.
[00:06:25] If you don't want to use any of these modes here, you can also go for a different stack
[00:06:31] modulator here.
[00:06:32] You can use voice control and we have now here 16 modulator outputs.
[00:06:39] This is the first voice, second voice, third voice, fourth voice, fifth voice and so on.
[00:06:44] You can say the first voice doesn't do anything.
[00:06:48] The second voice maybe is here, let's say two octaves higher.
[00:06:55] The third voice is maybe has a different skew and it's just has a ratio of maybe five to
[00:07:05] one and there's a different AD setting.
[00:07:10] So you can dial in manually what should happen on each voice manually.
[00:07:16] So here we have 16 voices.
[00:07:17] I don't want to dial in 16 parameters here.
[00:07:20] So I pull this down to maybe three or four.
[00:07:28] So each of these three partials has different settings for each voice or for each partial
[00:07:35] here, which makes it interesting for sound design.
[00:07:38] You can dial in very specific ratios, very specific loudness levels in AD settings for
[00:07:44] certain harmonics and can try to mimic certain instruments this way.
[00:07:51] So very helpful.
[00:07:53] You can also use this modulator of course to change the volume of something.
[00:07:57] For instance, you can use here the amplifier.
[00:08:00] You can say voice two has a lower volume and the third voice here goes all the way down
[00:08:07] and so on, right?
[00:08:11] You can change or maybe the root fundamental is lower or you just delete this here and
[00:08:24] go for different module.
[00:08:28] You can change here this with the voice mix.
[00:08:30] Looks like this when you click on it.
[00:08:32] You can see on the left side an inspector you have now for each voice you have here a volume
[00:08:37] slider.
[00:08:38] And the big benefit of this is that you can modulate this.
[00:08:41] We can take an LFO or a random modulator and can say I want to modulate here different
[00:08:47] volumes on different voices differently.
[00:08:51] So a lot of options actually to modify sounds and to modulate partials and create voices
[00:08:58] in different ways.
[00:09:00] It's basically unlimited possibilities, right?
[00:09:06] So here we have this.
[00:09:08] Okay let's delete this here.
[00:09:12] Go for a spread again.
[00:09:16] Stack spread straight.
[00:09:19] Pitch this up.
[00:09:22] We can go in here and say second partial is this loud, third partial is this loud.
[00:09:36] Like I said you can modulate this.
[00:09:37] You can also change the panning for each partial.
[00:09:46] Unlimited power in my opinion.
[00:09:51] Instead of working here with a voice spread or stack spread modulator we can also rely
[00:09:57] on the grid itself because we have here this voice info module which gives you basically
[00:10:03] the index of the current voice which is just a number and the size of the voice stack itself.
[00:10:11] So here we have four voice stacks, right?
[00:10:15] So the size is basically four.
[00:10:17] So we can take your readout and appropriately to play a number here.
[00:10:26] Maybe reduce the voices.
[00:10:28] Increase the voices.
[00:10:30] So four gives you four, right?
[00:10:32] Five gives you five.
[00:10:34] So on each voice you get the number of five.
[00:10:38] But from the first ear you get the index of the current voice.
[00:10:41] So on voice one you get one or in this case here it's zero dot eight because we have the
[00:10:47] normalize feature on.
[00:10:49] Yeah I have to explain this basically.
[00:10:51] So normalize basically means here it scales the voice stack index output from zero to
[00:10:57] one.
[00:10:58] So if this is enabled voice one gets I don't know zero dot one voice two gets zero dot
[00:11:05] two and so on.
[00:11:07] But it never exceeds the number one, right?
[00:11:11] So here we have two voices.
[00:11:13] So voice one gets zero, voice two gets zero dot five because we have two voices and if
[00:11:18] we spread out two voices between zero and one you get of course one zero and one zero
[00:11:23] dot five.
[00:11:24] If you use three you get zero dot six six here for the last or for the last voice I
[00:11:31] think and so on.
[00:11:34] So it spreads out basically the index number between zero and one.
[00:11:40] This is what the normalize thing does.
[00:11:43] If you disable this here each voice gets an integer.
[00:11:48] So this means you can see a three on voice three or four I think it's the last one here
[00:11:55] you get three.
[00:11:57] So voice one gets zero, voice one gets zero, voice two gets one, voice three gets two and
[00:12:06] so on.
[00:12:07] So the first voice is always index zero and the last one here for four voice stacks or
[00:12:15] for four voices you get three.
[00:12:17] Okay, I hope this makes sense.
[00:12:18] I probably explained it wrong.
[00:12:22] But you get for each voice a number.
[00:12:24] That's the simple explanation.
[00:12:27] Each voice gets a number and normalize basically decides how high this number is.
[00:12:34] If this is on the number is always between zero and one.
[00:12:36] If this is off each voice number gets real integer number.
[00:12:40] So one, two, three, four, five and so on.
[00:12:44] So with this number you can make calculations and spread out different sign partials to
[00:12:52] different frequencies.
[00:12:54] So because we have here normalize off and we get your integers we can just take here
[00:13:00] a modulator out just to make this easy peasy a modulator out and modulate here the racial
[00:13:07] settings and you probably already know this the racial settings gives you exactly the
[00:13:12] harmonic series as overtones.
[00:13:14] So one one is fundamental to one is basically the second harmonic three one is the third
[00:13:20] harmonic and so on.
[00:13:21] So here we get zero for the first voice.
[00:13:25] So we modulate this here by one.
[00:13:30] So you have here one for zero for the first voice.
[00:13:35] So one one then we get one for the second voice.
[00:13:39] So we have two one and so on.
[00:13:41] So this should give you harmonic overtones here.
[00:13:45] If we increase here the number voice taking to 16 we have now 16 different sign partials
[00:13:54] here just by modulating the ratio here with the index number.
[00:14:00] Okay, the problem now is here as you can see all partials are the same loudness so you
[00:14:07] can go into the voice mix again and can turn down certain certain partials here to a certain
[00:14:15] volume level.
[00:14:26] So this is a bit tedious for 16 voices right.
[00:14:29] So that's not what I want to do.
[00:14:32] So I'm just using here an amp amplifier.
[00:14:37] Use this and turn this down.
[00:14:41] So each voice gets a higher number and the higher the number is the more we turn it down
[00:14:48] in volume so higher frequencies get quieter and the root or the fundamental stays at the
[00:14:54] same volume.
[00:15:07] And then you can also work with the modulator out here with the offset basically so you
[00:15:13] can spread out the frequencies or make them closer together or different settings for
[00:15:30] skew so the root or the fundamental stays basically at the zero position here and the
[00:15:37] higher you get the more skew you introduce or the other way around or whatever.
[00:15:41] You can do so much so much things and try try out different ideas to create overtones
[00:15:49] this way.
[00:15:51] Another idea is to map certain partials to a step mod setting so we can use here a step
[00:15:58] mod and increase the number here to 16 because we have 16 voices right and we disable here
[00:16:07] the face input and we know probably or you know probably how the face input works right
[00:16:14] so this is the position here if we use a value input zero is at first position if you go
[00:16:22] up to 100% or one we end up here on the last step so it's a value between zero and one
[00:16:31] we get the value between zero and 16 or 15 so we need another of these voice info things
[00:16:38] here on modules and we switch the normalize on so now we have a value between zero and
[00:16:45] one so exactly what we need here for the step mod so we get this kind of thing here so each
[00:16:52] bar or step here represents basically a voice and instead of using here this modulator output
[00:17:01] and modulator amplify we disable or delete here the modulation we can take this modulation
[00:17:07] here and go maybe down to this or maybe we go let's go down here and then go up and now
[00:17:18] we can change the volume of each partial differently
[00:17:45] so everything is possible we also have to turn this down here a bit
[00:18:00] so you can also use here a second one and say this is maybe let's say this is bipolar
[00:18:16] so we go up and down and we use this to change the pitch offset here for certain things can
[00:18:28] change basically the pitch offset for each partially or differently so maybe this should
[00:18:32] stay the same and here we want to have different pitch offsets
[00:18:51] it's pretty atonal but you get the idea right so you can make nice sounds just with that
[00:18:57] this is okay just go to one here okay or you can say I want to make one here for let's
[00:19:12] say for the decay setting right so we go to zero here and the modulator decay setting
[00:19:20] so we want to have more decay on the lower partials and then we want to slowly right
[00:19:38] so you can change the envelopes for different partials differently so like I said so many
[00:19:45] possibilities if you don't like the step mod you just use maybe curves for that it works
[00:19:56] exactly the same so here we take this as a phase input we go to 100% we switch this
[00:20:03] here to hold and if we go into the editor here you can see we have each voice here laid
[00:20:08] out on this curve and we can now draw in basically our frequency response of the of the synth
[00:20:19] right so these are the lower partials here these are the higher partials maybe something
[00:20:25] like this and then of course we have to use your output instead of the one here okay so
[00:20:53] instead of using here basically a step mod to use a curve thing and then you can use
[00:20:58] the editor here the curve editor to draw in your frequency response so these are the lower
[00:21:03] frequencies these are the higher frequencies easy so if you don't like additive synthesis
[00:21:11] and you are more like a modal guy then you can remove the sign here with the filter so
[00:21:20] let's start you with a SVF maybe use a band pass filter here and instead of modulating
[00:21:26] here the pitch input we modulate this here pull this down and go here into that just
[00:21:36] remove that and we need here maybe a noise input noise ad just take this and try it out
[00:22:02] and of course we need to change here something because the frequencies are not spread out
[00:22:08] here with the ratio something like that or we use a ratio module here and then we do
[00:22:25] the same thing here just modulate by one and maybe use that here what's the offset right
[00:22:39] here so we can offset certain frequencies here for the filter on different voices differently
[00:22:51] so it's the same thing as before but instead of using a sign oscillator we use here basically
[00:22:57] a band pass filter and yeah the rest is the same so if you don't like to use noise then
[00:23:10] can just remove the noise and use an audio input here right and then you use in front
[00:23:19] of that maybe a synthesizer or maybe a sample or an audio track or whatever you want to
[00:23:25] use right as an input maybe noise textures so this is also something you can try out
[00:23:32] with this but I use most of the times I use just noise sounds great
[00:23:58] metallic sound and you probably already noticed that we have only 16 partials. So there is
[00:24:04] a lot of stuff missing in the top end, right? So usually you have over 1000 partials. But
[00:24:12] when I edit something in the "WaveTableEditor" of Serum, I usually only edit in the first
[00:24:18] 16 partials and everything on top is basically... I don't dial in anything. So you can use
[00:24:25] here the shape as the new ones to create some harmonic overtones. Maybe the howl here.
[00:24:34] Right? And these ones bring in a lot of overtones by... yeah. Using these partials you have here,
[00:24:47] these 16 partials and creating overtones for each of these partials. Or maybe you see
[00:24:55] heat. So yeah, it's a nice little playground for additive and modal synthesis now with
[00:25:17] the voice stacking. And I don't know if they maybe in the future amp these number up here
[00:25:24] to 32 or even more. Then it gets really interesting. But in my opinion 16 is more than enough.
[00:25:33] And sometimes my CPU is dying out from that. But I think it's just an optimizing problem
[00:25:38] from the beta. So probably in the future versions it's much more CPU friendly. But yeah, I want
[00:25:46] to give you basically a small little idea thing, inspiration video, how you can approach
[00:25:55] additive synthesis, modal synthesis in the grid with the new voice stacking options.
[00:26:00] There's so much stuff you can do with the voice stacking also in the note grid and so
[00:26:04] on. But I just leave it at that for the moment for this video. And I probably do a lot of
[00:26:12] more videos in the future. So make sure you are subscribed to the channel, leave a like
[00:26:18] if you like the video. And thanks for watching. See you next time. Bye.
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