FXpansion Tremor: Pitching Percussives
Tremor is a super-sounding software drum machine using synthesis based on FXpansion’s powerful and highly acclaimed DCAM circuit modelling. The Tremor ‘sound’ excels in producing punchy old school analogue sounds via an excellent step sequencer and a host of quality effects processors and a deep, multi featured modulation system known as ‘Transmod’. As a sonic sound stage Tremor provides an addictive creative environment for designing new drum sounds, percussive timbres, abstracts, FX and synthesised bass sounds.
Workflow: Creating pitched percussive sounds within a pattern sequence in Tremor is achievable in 3 simple steps. The workflow involves:
- The sourcing of a sound in Tremor.
- Using the ‘Transmod’ Global Modulation Sources via the (G1-G4) Graph selector to scale the Pitch parameter of Tremor’s oscillator.
- Input values into the (G1-G4) Graph lane to scale each step in the sequence to set different pitches for each percussive hit.
The Percussive Sound: Sourcing the timbral qualities of your sound is purely subjective. It could be a sound you have designed from scratch or a sound derived from Tremor’s stock of presets. Personally, I find that sounds with a shorter envelope work best for pitched percussive sounds because a staccato accent can easily find space within a groove and they tend not to mask the transient attack of the main elements of the beat. That said, it’s really about the overall sound you want to achieve.
Assigning Graphs: The next step is to get into the Synth Page of the sound engine you are working on and assign a Graph by choosing the G1 selector or any of the 4 ‘G’ (Graph) selectors from the row of Global Modulation Sources (bottom right of the interface) and assigning it to the Oscillator Pitch parameter by hovering over the outer part of the Pitch dial and then scaling the rotary to suit. Intuitively, Tremor’s rotaries and sliders provide a lot of useful information, either in: note values, milliseconds or Hz – making it easy to tune parameters. In this example (see image) the Oscillator Pitch was scaled to create a tonal region beginning at E1 and by dragging down to C#0. We can now generate different pitches and create an arpeggio by simply drawing different velocity values into the Graph lane of graph 1.
Tuning Pitch Using Graphs: At the top of Tremor’s interface is a menu bar with the option (to the left) to select the: Pattern – Graphs – or Mapping pages. Choose Graphs and below each step of the sequence draw in a set of contrasting values. Each value in the graph will affect the Oscillator’s Pitch position and generate a different pitch for each step. Admittedly, there maybe some tweaking of the Synth’s velocity parameters via the Fast Envelope (FENV – In the TransMod Selector row) involved when fine tuning the pitched elements and I recommend using a Pitch Correction tool as an insert on Tremor’s output channel to help tune the pitches if need be.
Building sonoraties into your patterns can add a lot of variation, depth and colour into a percussive line. As a musical structure, it is a cool device to include in your sequences and sound designs.
Owing to the depth of its specialised DCAM oscillator, its tuned noise sources and sub-oscillator, its multi-staged filter section and the wonders of the Transmod system that shapes them, Tremor’s capacity as a sound design tool is boundless. It is an innovative analogue-modelled drum synthesizer with so much more to offer. The envelopes in Tremor are also very, very impressive – but that’s a subject for a future discussion.
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