There are many sonic possibilities in the Wavetable oscillator in Thor. For us wind controller players, it offers some dynamic sounds when combined with Breath. We'll create a new sound from scratch in this tutorial.
First, you have to know what the Wavetable oscillator is and what it does. For more than you ever wanted to know about the Wavetable oscillator, I direct you to Propellerheads excellent tutorial series 'Discovering Reason'. Read these, first:
Thor Demystified 11: The Wavetable oscillator part 1
Thor Demystified 12: The Wavetable oscillator part 2
Wavetable oscillator - what is it?
The Wavetable oscillator is a sound source with a bunch of waveforms you can select. Each waveform is actually a whole bunch of waveforms stuck together one after another. You use the Position knob to select which waveform out of the group to hear. That's about it, and not really that interesting until you start to sweep through the waves (or table, get it?), using an envelope, such as Mod Env, Global Env, or LFO such as LFO1 or LFO2 in Thor. You can learn a whole lot about sweeping through the waves in the links above, so I won't get that into it too much. Today we are going to concentrate on sweeping through the waves using Breath. This lets us control the actual tone of the sound using Breath, which I think goes a little beyond using a filter, because we can completely alter the tonal characteristics of the sound.
So let's get started.
1. Create a new Thor device in the Rack
2. Initialize the patch by selecting Edit -> Initialize Patch
3. Change Osc 1 from Analog to Wavetable.
4. Select 'Bypass' in the Filter 1 slot.
5. In the Modulation section, Choose Source Performance -> Breath, Amount 100 Dest 1 Osc 1 -> Pos
Your patch should look like this.
With increasing breath pressure the sound will change from a triangle to a square to a saw.
If you turn off ‘X-Fade’ you can hear the waveforms change abruptly from one to another as you pass their thresholds. You can do the same test by holding down a key on your keyboard and manually spinning the position knob.
Ok, make sure ‘x-fade’ is on and reduce the amount in the modulation section to 50. Now the range is reduced by half, and we don't make it to the saw wave.
Now spin the position knob to about 2 o' clock, and you can see that our starting point (no breath) is the square and our end point, (max breath) is the saw.
Next step is to reverse the amount in the modulation section so it reads -50. Set the Position knob in the Wavetable Oscillator to 127. This reverses the breath input, so with more breath, we go backwards through the wavetable.
As we have demonstrated, the Pos setting will always be our starting point (no breath) and the range is set by the amount in the modulation section. To go forwards through the waveform, use a positive value, to go backwards, use a negative value.
Putting it together
So, what can we do with this? It all depends on the wavetables you choose and how you want to spin through them using breath. Here is a sample brass patch that builds on Gordon Reids Wavetable tutorial.
The Trombone Multi wavetable has a bunch of brass waveforms stuck together ranging from bright to dark. But remember, these are waveforms that should accurately track the harmonics of a brass instrument, going beyond just using filters. How about if we let breath control which waveform we want to use.
Breath -> -100 -> Osc1Pos
There you have it, not bad and not a filter in sight.
To make this fatter, I’m going to add another Wavetable oscillator set up the same way but using the Saxophone Multi. I’ll pitch this down an Octave as well.
Next step is to add some Chorus and Reverb, and we have a nice little patch.
The next example is how to use this the Wavetable Oscillator to add more subtle changes to a patch. We’ll create (or recreate) the Thor flute from the Sound of the Week a few weeks back.
This will gradually give us some high harmonics in the flute sound with more breath pressure. Experiment with the Pos and amount settings to get more extreme variations
Breath -> 46 -> Osc2 Pos
Here is the completed patch.
I hope this gives you enough information to start making your own breath controller patches with the Wavetable oscillator in Thor. As you can see, there are many possibilties with this flexible and unique oscillator, especially when combined with other oscillator types.
As always, have fun!