Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Bitwig-5.2b5 Filters Keytracking Sequencer Tutorial EQ

Target Harmonics with Filters in Bitwig

Tutorial | Jun 05, 2024

In this video, I explain how I use filters and filter key tracking in my synthesizer sound design. I demonstrate how filters can be used to remove or amplify specific harmonics in a sound, targeting frequencies like the first and second harmonics to enhance bass presence. I also show how key tracking allows filters to follow the frequency of different notes, making the filtering process more precise.

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In this video, I explain how I use filters and filter key tracking in Bitwig Studio. By using a subtractive synthesizer, I demonstrate the process of subtractive synthesis to manipulate harmonics, amplify specific frequencies, and achieve precise sound shaping without relying solely on EQ.

Key Points:

This technique is powerful for sound design and can enhance your ability to create precise and impactful sounds in your music production.

Questions & Answers

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

What is the main topic of the video?

The main topic of the video is filters and filter key tracking, and how the speaker uses them in their music production process.

How does the speaker use filters and filter key tracking?

The speaker uses filters to subtract harmonics in their synthesizer sound, and they use key tracking to adjust the filter frequency based on the note being played. This allows them to target and manipulate specific harmonics in the sound.

Why does the speaker use filters and filter key tracking?

The speaker uses filters and filter key tracking to control the presence and character of specific harmonics in their music. They use it to amplify certain harmonics in bass sounds and to remove or adjust other harmonics to create the desired sound.

How does the speaker demonstrate the use of filters and filter key tracking?

The speaker demonstrates the use of filters and filter key tracking by showing examples in a subtractive synthesizer and in the Bitwig Studio software. They explain how to target specific harmonics, adjust filter steepness, and use different filter types to achieve desired results. They also show how these techniques can be used in both monophonic and polyphonic sounds.


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, I want to talk a bit about filters and filter key tracking and how I
[00:00:05] use it because sometimes I have to believe not everyone knows exactly what I do with
[00:00:10] the filters.
[00:00:11] So I want to make a video about this and we start by just using here a subtractive synthesizer
[00:00:17] and you want to lay down just one note, maybe pull down near the volume a bit and just use
[00:00:25] C3 here, one note of C3 and you just want to loop this here and we open up the filter,
[00:00:33] we remove here the filter modulation amount from the envelope here and we increase the
[00:00:39] sustain and we want to use a saw and we remove here the default modulators and inside of
[00:00:46] the Xbox we use an EQ plus just to see what's going on here with the harmonics.
[00:00:52] So this is how it sounds pretty ugly and we also switch here the resolution of the EQ
[00:01:00] to huge so we can see each harmonic here pretty clearly.
[00:01:07] Okay, so now we can use basically here inside of the subtractive synthesizer we can use the
[00:01:13] filter to subtract the harmonics.
[00:01:15] That's how this synthesis kind of type works.
[00:01:20] So we have here a sound with the root fundamental and a lot of overtones and we can get rid
[00:01:27] of all the overtones here by just pulling down a low pass filter until we are left with
[00:01:33] the lowest root fundamental frequency here.
[00:01:39] We can also double click here this and we jump to the middle frequency which is 262
[00:01:45] hertz which is basically C3.
[00:01:47] You can see this down here in the info bar right it's C3.
[00:01:55] So in here we also play C3 so that's important.
[00:01:59] We can also change here the steepness of the filter so when we use here LP8 you can see
[00:02:05] we remove even more overtones than just with LP2.
[00:02:11] It's not that steep right.
[00:02:13] We can remove more overtones by using a steeper filter.
[00:02:19] So this is basically how subtractive synthesis works.
[00:02:23] So now the interesting part is we can target individual overtones here.
[00:02:28] So let's say I want to make a bass sound.
[00:02:32] The bass sound has of course a root, a sub and then overtones.
[00:02:39] So what I want to do most of the times with the bass is I want to amplify the second harmonic
[00:02:44] or the second partial on in the first harmonic.
[00:02:48] I think this is called the first harmonic.
[00:02:49] This is called fundamental.
[00:02:50] This is the first harmonic.
[00:02:53] So the first harmonic is something I want to amplify in the bass because I want to make
[00:02:59] the bass audible in let's say weak speakers or headphones right.
[00:03:05] So sometimes people just use an EQ for that and I use sometimes these filters for that.
[00:03:12] So what I do then is basically I use a low pass maybe LP3 to get rid of all the overtones
[00:03:18] and then I want to amplify the second partial here or the first harmonic and I do this by
[00:03:24] just going instead of C3 I go for C4.
[00:03:30] So C4 now is twice the frequency as this one, which is exactly the first harmonic.
[00:03:37] So now I can use the resonance here and increase the resonance on this first harmonic.
[00:03:46] So it's exactly gives me exactly what I want without using an EQ.
[00:03:51] So I just amplify this and you can hear this better inside of headphones.
[00:03:56] So now the problem is when you change of course here the key to different frequency and the
[00:04:01] relationship between the filter frequency and the frequency of the root or the fundamental
[00:04:07] is completely off and of course all the harmonics.
[00:04:11] So that's why we have key tracking.
[00:04:12] So key tracking here on 100% basically tracks the frequency of the note.
[00:04:19] So when I hit or double click this here, I target again the root or fundamental frequency
[00:04:26] even though it shows 262 Hertz because the key tracking is on.
[00:04:32] It changes basically this frequency always to the frequency of the note.
[00:04:37] So instead of 262 Hertz here I have basically a different frequency.
[00:04:41] I have the frequency of I don't know what this is here.
[00:04:45] 62 Hertz.
[00:04:47] I don't know is this C1?
[00:04:50] C1 is 65.4 Hertz.
[00:04:55] So that's the frequency I'm targeting.
[00:04:57] So I can also let's say go here for SVF and use a notch and completely remove this fundamental
[00:05:06] frequency here with the notch filter.
[00:05:09] And because we know that from the Rampel channel, the drive knob here also adds some overtones
[00:05:15] or harmonics so we can go down here with the drive knob to remove the fundamental even more.
[00:05:23] So you can see we remove here this frequency even though it's not 262 Hertz because of key
[00:05:27] tracking we follow here the frequency of this note and then we target basically this fundamental
[00:05:32] and we can bring this up and we still remove this here, go up, still remove the fundamental
[00:05:40] frequency.
[00:05:41] So this is basically key tracking and how I use it.
[00:05:45] I can remove and target certain harmonics inside of the sound.
[00:05:50] So back again to our base here, let's go to C1 again and we want to push basically the
[00:05:56] second harmonic or the second partial and the first harmonic.
[00:05:59] So here I go to C4 which is twice the frequency of C3 and then I push up here the resonance
[00:06:06] and you can see we basically bring out here the second partial to make it more audible
[00:06:14] inside of that inside of headphones or weak speakers.
[00:06:19] We can then maybe switch this back here to a selling key filter and can also increase
[00:06:26] the steepness of the filter so we remove more overtones.
[00:06:30] So these both stay in place, right?
[00:06:37] And we can work pretty precise with these kind of filters inside of Bitwig Studio.
[00:06:44] It gets harder if you want to target different harmonics instead of the first and the second
[00:06:49] one, right?
[00:06:50] So this is easy.
[00:06:51] You just go from C3 to C4 just to use or just to target this frequency here.
[00:06:59] We can also say, let's go back to SVF when you want to remove certain partials here.
[00:07:06] So this is the second one.
[00:07:07] The third one is 700 something.
[00:07:10] We can actually calculate this here but we need to calculate that.
[00:07:14] We take the root frequency 262 and then times the partial number.
[00:07:22] So let's say I want to target here the second one, third one, fourth one, right?
[00:07:28] So times four.
[00:07:31] So go to this frequency.
[00:07:34] We can just copy this, ctrl V and then we target basically here exactly this partial,
[00:07:46] right?
[00:07:48] That's a bit cumbersome because you have to calculate it.
[00:07:51] Maybe you can remember certain harmonics or you can remember the notes for these things,
[00:07:58] so maybe you say C3 is the first.
[00:08:02] This is the second and then I think G, probably G4.
[00:08:08] Yeah, this is this harmonic.
[00:08:10] So basically go up then or use the root frequency and then times the number.
[00:08:17] Basically, this is how you calculate it.
[00:08:21] It's much easier inside of the grid, of course.
[00:08:23] We can just disable here this filter and you can use an FX grid.
[00:08:31] So we basically do the same thing in here, use an SVF.
[00:08:39] Put this on the root frequency, resonance goes down and then we have the key tracking
[00:08:44] here enabled.
[00:08:45] So we can remove here the fundamental.
[00:08:49] So in here, we can just use a pitch in and instead of the key tracking here, we switch
[00:08:55] key checking off and use the pitch in and up here the amount.
[00:09:00] So it's the same thing as before, but now we can use a ratio module in between here
[00:09:07] and then we can target basically each of these harmonics.
[00:09:12] Fundamental first harmonic, second harmonic, third harmonic, fourth harmonic and so on.
[00:09:19] So with the ratio thing here, you can target these things and can calculate basically the
[00:09:23] right frequency.
[00:09:25] And because we use here the pitch in, this changes, of course, again with the note frequency.
[00:09:35] So you can still see here, we remove this partial.
[00:09:38] So this is basically how I use filters sometimes instead of using an EQ.
[00:09:44] You can also use an EQ if you want to.
[00:09:47] So you can say basically, let's go out of this here.
[00:09:53] You have to go to C3 first.
[00:09:56] You have to tweak this on C3.
[00:10:00] So we have here basically C3 and we have all the overtones and we want to target exactly
[00:10:05] this frequency, right?
[00:10:06] So we pull this down here with an EQ and then we can bring in here a key track and then we
[00:10:14] modulate basically the shift input by exactly 60.
[00:10:19] You can type this in on the left side, 60.
[00:10:25] So now when we move this note here around, you can see also the EQ shifts around and
[00:10:30] targets again the right harmonic.
[00:10:36] But this only works if you tweak it here on C3 with just the middle frequency here in
[00:10:42] Bitwig Studio.
[00:10:43] And then you can, yeah, EQ your multiple things in the sound and you get the right
[00:10:52] frequency then when you shift the note around.
[00:10:55] So you can do this in multiple ways in Bitwig Studio.
[00:10:59] And like I showed you in the beginning here with the filter, you can already do so much
[00:11:03] without using actually an EQ and it's inside of the synth itself.
[00:11:09] So it's also part of polyphony.
[00:11:11] So if you use multiple keys, right, with multiple sounds and different frequencies, the filter
[00:11:17] also is polyphonic and you have then on different sounds, different filters with different frequencies
[00:11:26] targeting the right frequency for these harmonics.
[00:11:30] So it's pretty neat to have.
[00:11:33] And also inside of the grid, it's pretty nice to do here with the ratio.
[00:11:37] And then of course in the end with the EQ plus is also possible.
[00:11:42] But then again, keep in mind, this is not polyphonic.
[00:11:45] This is basically only monophonic and it works basically for one key at a time.
[00:11:50] So if you have like a chord sound, right, this is then EQ basically on, yeah, of the result
[00:11:56] of the sum of the sound, not like for individual sounds or into individual keys.
[00:12:03] So that's important to know.
[00:12:05] And yeah, I want to basically explain to you how I use these filters sometimes here
[00:12:10] when I type in different notes or different frequencies because in my brain, this is how
[00:12:17] it works.
[00:12:18] I target basically individual frequencies sometimes and I think, oh, I need to increase
[00:12:23] here the volume of the first harmonic, right, to make it more audible for bass sounds or
[00:12:29] I want to remove certain harmonics because I know it sounds great or I want to make room
[00:12:34] for snare drum at a certain point, right?
[00:12:38] So this is how I use it and I think you should use it too because it's pretty powerful.
[00:12:45] That's it for this video.
[00:12:46] Leave a like if you liked the video.
[00:12:48] Subscribe to the channel.
[00:12:49] Thanks for watching.
[00:12:50] Hit me up with the feedback and the comments down below.
[00:12:53] Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video.
[00:12:55] Bye.
[00:12:55] Bye.