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FM Synthesis

Frequency Modulation Synthesis

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The origins of FM Synthesis date back to the 1970's. Frequency modulation is a type of synthesis that is heard in many genres of music including house, pop, dubstep, EDM, electronic music, and more. Popular synthesizers include the Yamaha DX7 keyboard and the software synth Native Instruments FM8 - both of which have been used by notable artists.

This course is designed to teach those who may not be familiar or comfortable with synthesis about frequency modulation, and how it can be used as a method of synthesis to create very unique sounds and textures. We will start by making the connection between frequency and pitch, and then introduce the basic concept of frequency modulation by using an LFO to modulate the pitch of a sine wave. By increasing the speed of the modulation, the viewer will notice that it sounds less like the pitch is changing and more like the overall timbre is changing. Once this is understood, we will dive deeper into the Operator instrument in Ableton Live and discuss various ways we can take advantage of frequency modulation by utilizing the four operators, different routing algorithms, and different sources of modulation (LFO, Pitch Envelope, Filter Envelope). At the conclusion of this mini-course the viewer will be able to create unique sounds from scratch by utilizing FM synthesis.

Lessons topics include:

  • What is FM synthesis?
  • Carrier, modulators, and LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)
  • Operators
  • Envelopes
  • Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
  • Other sources of modulation and destination routing
  • Customer "user" waveforms
  • Fixed frequency modulators and different algorithms


Your Instructor


Thavius Beck
Thavius Beck

Thavius Beck is an electronic musician, producer and performer that's worked with countless musicians including Nine Inch Nails, Skylar Grey, Saul Williams, The Mars Volta and many more. Thavius is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer and has instructed hundreds of Live students through teaching courses at several music institutes, giving one-on-one lessons and holding dozens of Ableton Live workshops throughout the country.


Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
After signing up for a membership, you'll have unlimited access to this course for as long as you keep your membership active.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.