Creating west-coast inspired sounds with Cursus Vereor
There are many styles and techniques in the world of synthesis. It’s not uncommon to hear about “east coast” and “west coast” synthesis, referring to two famous synth designers residing on opposite sides of the United States. Subtractive-synthesis concepts are common in plugins, but the wavefolders and lowpass gates used on west-coast synthesizers are less abundant. Today, we’ll be looking at how to create west-coast sounds on the Cursus Vereor plugin.
The first part of our sound comes from the oscillator, and how it’s processed. For this type of patch we’ll be using simple sine waves to start, then adding harmonic content to them with the Fold parameter. This creates a bright timbre that’s a wonderful starting point for the plucky sounds we’ll be creating here. Start out in Daubechies mode with everything except Parity turned down, then bring up the Fold to add some character to the wave.
A great way to keep things interesting in a track is to slowly modulate any of the oscillator parameters a touch — this will add slight timbral variation over time to keep the patch sounding fresh. You could also add some humanization to it instead, varying it each time a note is played — check out our other blog post on modulation for that technique and more.
The other key component of this sound is the lowpass gate. In the hardware world, a lowpass gate is a combination of a VCA and a lowpass filter controlled by a quick decay envelope: the VCA controls the volume of the oscillator and the filter controls its harmonic content, and when both are turned down by the the decay envelope it creates a very natural and organic pluck.
We can create something similar to this with the envelope and filter sections of Cursus Vereor. Set Sustain and Attack to minimum, Slope to maximum, and Decay and Release to taste.
On the filter side, set Filter Mix to maximum, and Env Amount and Resonance to taste — traditional lowpass gates generally have very little resonance and sweep a wide range of their filter, but many variations exist.
And that’s the whole patch. Simple, yet effective!
Beyond plucks: reverb
While these sorts of plucks sound wonderful on their own, some effects can add an extra dimension and help round things out. Spring reverb is an effect that’s commonly used with older analog synthesizers: in hardware, an actual spring is used to create the sound, but in the software world, we can emulate this effect with Desmodus. Turn up the Dense control, set Size to a very low setting to emulate the short decay of a spring, and turn Tone up to filter out low end and give the reverb a bright timbre. Regen can be set to taste, but I usually prefer lower settings as shown to give a short tail.
No Cursus? No problem
If you haven’t yet bought Plugin Bundle 1 and want to try out these sorts of sounds for free, our Sinc Vereor plugin featured in the Freequel Bundle (available here) also features a wavefolder similar to the Cursus Vereor. Use the Plain oscillator mode and turn up Tone all the way, then use the same steps above to create the lowpass gate. It’ll have a slightly different timbre but it’s a great way to experiment!