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How to synthesize Drumcode-esque techno stabs

Here we show you how to make Drumcode style techno stabs with the Thorn CM synth.

Click here to download the files you need to complete tutorial.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: We can make a convincing Drumcode-style techno stab using Dmitry Sches’ superb Thorn CM. Start by importing the Tutorial Files into a 126bpm project, with Stab.mid triggering Thorn CM. Set both Oscillators to a sine wave: Oscillator 1 will be audible and frequency-modulated by the inaudible Oscillator 2.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Turn on Oscillator 2, then tune it up by two octaves. Reduce the volume to 0%, so that only Oscillator 1 can be heard. Next, set Oscillator 1’s FX type to FM before increasing the FX amount to 55%. The frequency modulation turns our vanilla sine wave sub into a more audible, hollow tone with added upper harmonics.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: We can shape this basic tone using Thorn CM’s filter. Set the filter Mode to Dirty LP and Cutoff to 26Hz. Pushing the Resonance to around 40% gives the sound additional bite, without any self-oscillation. Use Envelope 1 to modulate the cutoff frequency: start by pushing the filter’s Envelope dial to 100%.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 4: Setting Envelope 1’s Sustain and Release to 0% lets us use the Decay to open and close the filter for a more controlled ‘twang’ effect. Set the Decay to 40% and Attack to 10% to avoid any clicks and pops. Turning down the Amp envelope Sustain to 0% eliminates unwanted sustain for a more ‘stabby’ feel.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 5: We can assign modulation sources easily in Thorn CM. Click the circle at the top left of Envelope 1 and drag to Oscillator 1’s FX amount dial to modulate the FM amount with the envelope. Right-click the FX amount dial to adjust the modulation strength – ours is decreasing the FM amount, giving a deeper sound.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 6: We can give our stab a more acid-esque twang by modulating the FIlter resonance with an LFO. Set LFO 1’s Shape to Saw Up, and Speed to 1/4. Assign the LFO to the Resonance dial, decreasing the modulation to 20%. To finish, we beef up our stab by increasing the Filter Drive to around +9dB.