Here’s a breakdown of a song that you maybe can learn something from. It’s not that profound, but should give you some hints of the sound design.
But first, listen to https://soundcloud.com/johaneckerstrom/read-me, so you can follow the article.
The song itself is fairly minimal and only consists of a few channel tracks, and therefore easy to analyze.
For the drums I used an old Roland TR-606 drum machine sequenced to the tempo of 110 BPM. I also added Boss DR-110’s hand clap and a slightly downpitched snare drum for the drum roll.
I put rhythm first in most of my songs, even if this particular pattern isn’t that complex.
The pounding bass is created on the Korg volca bass.
There are two VCOs grouped, an octave apart, playing the main ostinato, and the third VCO is introduced later in the song as a live pitch. In this case the effect of the VCOs sharing a common envelope and stuff renders a nice effect, where the gate length sounds chopped while the rhythm is intact.
The filter cutoff is slowly modulated by the LFO to make some movement in the sound.
During the crescendo, the filter is manually opened up to two-thirds – and what a liquid filter it is.
A quite high resonance is applied to make the bass scream a bit.
The bass channel is side-chained (triggered by the kick drum) and duplicated to a parallel channel, with bass rolled off (using a high pass filter) and fed through a phaser effect to enhance the stereo image and add further movement.
The motif is a minimal, almost atonal, figure made on the Korg volca keys. The synth is best used for plucky shit, and set to poly ring voicing (square waves through a ring modulator). The noisy internal delay is bypassed, in favor of an external digital reverb with a plate algorithm.
This is sequenced internally on the Roland SH-101. Mixed waveforms are used and noise modulation of the VCF for that gritty sound. Cutoff sweeps are manually made and pretty randomly so. Also with high resonance level to add an acid touch. There’s not much use of the sub oscillator here, because the arpeggiator shouldn’t collide with the bassline.
Only two notes where played twice on the Yamaha CS01, and they are almost unmotivated. Nevertheless, they sound good – yeah, it’s that notorious PWM sound.
This is the small but big Moog Music Minitaur producing a 8-bit colored sound. The synth is run by a software monophonic arpeggiator which makes these octave jumps when programmed with more notes that it can handle.