Here we show you how to make Drumcode style techno stabs with the Thorn CM synth.
Step 1: We can make a convincing Drumcode-style techno stab using Dmitry Sches’ superb Thorn CM (opens in new tab). 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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.