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Tempest Recipes: Bells and alien idiophones

Based on a request from DSI forum I had a new look at making bells. I did try this before but I wasn’t convinced of the results. If I want a bell sound I typically go to FM synthesis. But I had another look and came-up with some nice results, especially on the weirder side (as the title suggests). Below is a basic recipe. Perhaps not the most natural sounding, but a start to your own efforts at least.

  • Triangle in both Osc 1 and Osc 2.
  • For this patch we want an harmonically pleasing sound so that we can play the bells chromatically. Start by pitching Osc 2 down up to C4 and Osc1 an octabve higher at C5.
    If you want more inharmonic, clangorous church bells, start with the pitch Osc 2 at D#1 and work your way up.
  • Detune Osc 2 to approx 30, or more for a more inharmonic sound.
  • Set the Amp envelope – AD mode with zero attack, and a fairly long decay (60). Give Amp envelope amount a good boost at 100. Now go to ModPaths and self-modulate the Amp envelope decay with a positive amount – around 30. This should already have at least some bell-like characteristics – play up-and down the keyboard. Similar to a toybox / glockenspiel maybe? Your ears can guide you on those paths. But a dose of LFO action here serves-up some quality variants.
  • LFO1 mapped to Osc2 frequency, random shape and a tiny amount – 1-2 shoudl be enough to introduce a slight randomness to the tail.
  • Filter 4 pole – Close cutoff just slightly (120) zero resonance and slowly turn-up the Filter FM (Audio Mod) knob. There are tons of cool analogue sounds here – everything from changing the tonality of our bell to weird-ass glitches as the resonance is turned-up. Modulate the filter parameters with both LFO’s and see what I mean.

In fact, at this stage I got totally diverted away from bells into crazy modulation land – with lots of great results. If you’re stuck on bells the above will at least get you going I hope.

Oh, and don’t forget to pile-on both chorus and reverb – both really vital here. You could also try compressing the snot out of the output – the more I use it the more I love Tempest’s compressor.

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