Just like the visual arts, music has color. The color of a sound is determined by the type of wave and the frequencies that make up the sound. This is the color palette of the musician.
Timbre – the color of sound, what instruments sound like, the sound frequencies
Here are the basic wave forms:
- Sawtooth – an example would be a violin
- Sine – an example would be a clarinet
- Triangle – an example would be a bass
- Square – an example would be a trumpet
We take it for granted but the synthesizers and sound modules we use to create music on our computers can create very complex sounds and manipulate them in an infinite number of ways.
The basic form of sound is its envelope: attack, decay, sustain, release (ADSR)
- Attack – the beginning of a sound, how sharp, fast or slow it began
- Decay – the reduction in volume from the initial attack
- Sustain – how long the sound maintains its volume
- Release – when a sound ends
Synthesizers can change any parameter in the sounds envelope as well as filter various frequencies to create a totally unique sound.
As a composer you can use this capability to make innovative pieces or replicate existing styles without having to hire a full band or orchestra.
Most all DAWs have some type of synthesizer in their software. Make it a point to experiment with the different sound waves available to see what’s possible.