This is a follow up to an earlier tutorial about creating a breath controlled patch with Subtractor
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Don’t underestimate the Subtractor. It is a great little synth and is easier to program than Thor. You can get some cool analog and digital sounds out of it. It can sound surprisingly good when pumped up with the right effects. It also makes a good starting point when learning synthesis because it is the most basic synth in the Reason family. You can stack them in Combinators for some pretty massive sounds, too.
99.9% of the Subtractor sounds you will encounter were created with keyboards in mind and therefore velocity takes precedence over performance controllers such as breath and aftertouch. In this tutorial we will walk through converting a regular Subtractor patch into a breath controlled patch, attempting to keep the character and sound of the original patch. Along the way we’ll discuss the various parameters and what they do. We are also going to stick with using the front panel controls only, a future tutorial will cover the use of CV to add breath control to virtually any Subtractor parameter.
Since most of the patches you come across are set with velocity to control the various parameters, we will focus on making what is essentially a ‘struck’ sound into a ‘sustaining’ sound where we can control the parameter musically over time.
Here is what the Reason Manual says about the Velocity parameters:
- Amp - This let’s you velocity control the overall volume of the sound. If a positive value is set, the volume will increase the harder you strike a key. A negative value inverts this relationship, so that the volume decreases if you play harder, and increases if you play softer. If set to zero, the sound will play at a constant volume, regardless of how hard or soft you play.
- FM -This sets velocity control for the FM Amount parameter. A positive value will increase the FM amount the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- M. Env- This sets velocity control for the Mod Envelope Amount parameter. A positive value will increase the envelope amount the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- Phase -This sets velocity control for the Phase Offset parameter. This applies to both Osc 1 & 2, but the relative offset values are retained. A positive value will increase the phase offset the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- Freq 2 -This sets velocity control for the Filter 2 Frequency parameter. A positive value will increase the filter frequency the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- F. Env -This sets velocity control for the Filter Envelope Amount parameter. A positive value will increase the envelope amount the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- F. Dec- This sets velocity control for the Filter Envelope Decay parameter. A positive value will increase the Decay time the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- Osc Mix - This sets velocity control for the Osc Mix parameter. A positive value will increase the Osc 2 Mix amount the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
- A. Attack -This sets velocity control for the Amp Envelope Attack parameter. A positive value will increase the Attack time the harder you play. Negative values invert this relationship.
Over in the performance section where we set breath control, we only have Filter 1 Frequency, LFO1, Amp and FM.
First set the indicator to breath in the performance area.
Keep in mind, we are still sending velocity to the synth (at least I hope you have your wind controller set to transmit velocity!) so some of the velocity parameters are still valid.
Let’s just go down the velocity list one by one and see how to map it over. The green ones are the easiest to map over. For everything else, either move the knob to 0, or leave it as is.
- Amp – pretty self explanatory and a 1 to 1 mapping over to the Amp in the performance control section. I like my breath to control this so set to 0 in velocity and set the value to around 3 o’clock in the Amp performance section.
- FM – Same as Amp – a 1 to 1 mapping over to the performance area. Take a note of this value and set the performance area value to the same one. Set the value in the Velocity section to 0.
- M Env – This does not have a 1 to 1 mapping so it’s a judgment call. If the mod envelope is short (meaning a fast to medium decay and little or no sustain), I say it’s something that is present at the attack of the note, so it should stay velocity controlled. If not, it's up to you if you want it to stay. Your other option includes getting rid of the Mod Envelope modulation by velocity completely. Just experiment here to see what sounds good.
- Phase- no mapping over to the performance area – Keep it or not, just see what works for you. To remove the velocity control of Phase, just set the knob to 12 o'clock so the little red light goes out.
- Freq 2 - again no mapping – keep it or not, see what it sounds like.
- F. Env – Filter Envelope amount - this is also a judgment call-same as M Env. If it is part of the attack leave it, otherwise, you might want to forgo the F Env altogether and use your breath to control the filter frequency by setting the F Freq knob in the performance area.
- F Dec – Filter Decay amount - this goes along with F Env. I say control F Freq with breath if the F Env is a sustaining envelope (High D or S values in the Filter Envelope), otherwise leave it as velocity controlled.
- Mix – no mapping – just listen to what it sounds like since you can’t control this from the performance area using breath.
- Atk – leave it as is, or even increase it slightly. This is definitely something you want velocity controlled.
High Speed BC Conversion
If that doesn't make much sense, or you want something super quick, here is a super quick conversion, using some defaults that I like.
Ext Mod section:
F Freq Ext Mod = 49
LFO1 Ext Mod = 0
Amp Ext Mod = 24
FM Ext Mod = 0
Filter 1 Section
Filter 1 Freqency = 33
Attack = 48
Decay = 100
Sustain = 64-127
Release = 10
A. Atk (Amp Envelope Attack) = -24
If I didn't mention a parameter, just leave it as is. Try playing the patch and adjust.
So there you have it - a quick way to convert a subtractor sound over to breath control. These settings will also work on an NN-19 patch!
A lot of the parameters don’t have a 1 to 1 mapping, but in a future tutorial we will cover how to control just about any parameter using breath and CV.
The best way to get a feel for it is to just play around and experiment and most importantly, have fun!