How to sequence melodic rhythms with NI Massive

Despite now being decidedly long in the tooth, Native Instruments' legendary Massive synth still sounds every bit as amazing as it did when it first arrived a decade ago.

In this walkthrough, we'll show you how to use Massive to design a highly mobile melodic sound. For more power synth tutorials, get your hands on the May edition of Future Music.

Step 1: Let’s deconstruct a preset we’ve created for NI Massive, called Seq Twangy Lead.nsmv. The patch’s main ‘clock’ is provided by the 5 Performer mod source, which is sequencing all three oscillators’ Amp amounts. Spin the 7 Pattern macro knob to fade between 5 Perf’s two different rhythmic patterns.

Step 2: All three of Massive’s main wavetable oscillators have been stacked together for complexity: Osc 1 gives sub weight; Osc 2 is a fizzy ‘reverse’ layer for interest; and Osc 3, set to the Polysaw II wavetable, provides the patch’s core ‘chord’ element.

Step 3: To give Osc 2 its distinctive warping effect, we’ve negatively modulated its Amp with 5 Perf; and a simple sine LFO (6 LFO) sweeps its wavetable for even more movement. We’ve also used a looping 16th-note rhythm (via the 7 Perf mod source) to sequence the Noise oscillator’s Amp amount, creating a plucky hi-hat layer.

Step 4: For extra timbral interest, Filter 1 is set to a tuned Comb type. Filter 2 outputs the dry signal, so we can use the filter Mix slider to fade this comb effect in parallel - to blend its effect into the mix, raise the 1 CombMix macro.

Step 5: Massive’s built-in effects give the sound thickness and character. Modulated bitcrushing adds grit; the Frequency Shifter blends in shifted tones in parallel; Tele Tube adds grunt and drive; and Reverb gives the final stamp of space and depth. Subtle EQ bumps gently beef out the patch’s treble and bass.

Step 6: Finally, by altering various synth settings over the course of an arrangement, our impressive melodic rhythm can be made to evolve and progress - which is why all of eight of Massive’s macros have been assigned to key parameters. Fire up the patch for yourself and get tweaking!

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