Learn Synthesis with Pure Data S01E04 Title Screen
August 3, 2021

Learn Synthesis with Pure Data S01E04 – Making the 4 Basic Wave Shapes with Additive Synthesis

Learn Synthesis with Pure Data S01E04 – Making the 4 Basic Wave Shapes with Additive Synthesis

Making the 4 Basic Wave Shapes with Additive Synthesis

Additive synthesis is an approach to making sounds that utilizes sine tones as the building blocks of the sounds. In fact, one can make the 4 basic wave shapes, sine, triangle, pulse, and saw, by adding together singe waves. By adding sine waves at harmonic overtone frequencies and certain strengths, one can make these 4 basic wave shapes. As we build our synthesizer in this series, we will need oscillators to generate signal. We will make an oscillator in this episode that will function as a multi-shape oscillator module to generate signal. It will utilize the 4 basic wave shapes and generate them using an additive approach by creating a wave table with summed sine waves as harmonics.

The four basic wave shapes are sine, triangle, pulse, and sawtooth. Yet, one of these wave shapes, the sine wave, is the pure tone that all sound is built from and can be used to make the other 3 basic wave shapes. This lesson demonstrates additive synthesis, which is the use of sine tones at varying frequencies and varying strengths to create more complex sounds. By layering sine tones at the proper strengths as harmonics in the correct formulas, one can create the triangle, pulse, and sawtooth wave shapes. The multi-shape oscillator that is made in this episode will serve as the primary signal generating oscillator for the synthesizer that is being crated in series one. In Pure Data, using this additive approach is quite easy in creating wave shapes in a table through sending the correct messages to make the shapes.

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