How To Make Any Sound From Scratch (With Syntorial)

syntorial review deliberate practice

Syntorial has me all jazzed about synthesizers.

Syntorial’s claim to fame is that it’s “the most direct route between hearing a sound in your head and knowing how to bring it to life in a synth”.

And while I’m only on Module 12 (with 33 Modules, I’m only a third of the way through), I’m beginning to see the truth of that claim.

Syntorial begins by teaching you about wave forms, filters and amp envelopes. You progress one knob at a time, with each “challenge” getting harder and harder. On my last challenge, I had to tweak 15+ knobs in order to get the “correct” sound.

That’s how the challenges work.

Syntorial plays you a sound.

You make the sound from scratch.

It’s changing the way I listen to music.

Whenever I’m listening to music, especially electronic music, I’m paying more attention to the way the sound works in the song. I’ll hear a lead in a Hardwell or Tiesto song and my brain immediately starts estimating the wave form, attack, decay, sustain and release, filter amount, and so on.

To the average music listener (or non-musician), that probably sounds annoying (no pun intended), since it interrupts your enjoyment of the music.

But if you’re a musician like me, and you want to make the big, phat sounds you hear on the mainstream songs, you’ll love it.

Check Syntorial out here.

Also, I’ve updated my deep work routine to 4 hours a day of only music production (no writing these posts in that time, no marketing, no business work).

Some people think you need to practice your craft for 12+ hours a day to be world-class.

Legitimate world-class performers and renowned scientists would disagree (see here and here).

Turns out, beginners can typically only get about one hour a day of productive practice (one hour of deep work or “deliberate practice”). With time, we’re able to get more productive practice in, but the benefits of practice appear to taper off around about 4 hours.

But this doesn’t just mean playing scales for 4 hours, or whatever your preferred method of practice is (for music or anything else). It means 4 hours of total focus. No Facebook. No email. And no mindlessly playing scales. Deep work, or “deliberate practice” is hard, and generally not fun (it’s not fun because it’s hard work).

With electronic dance music, it means practicing builds over and over again. Then practicing drops over and over again. For days, weeks, months. It means signing up to Syntorial and practicing making specific sounds – not because it’s fun (because it’s not). Because it extends your ability to make music that people love.

For guitarists, it might mean taking the opening bar of a Guns N’ Roses solo and playing it over and over and over again. Using a metronome, and gradually increasing the speed as you get comfortable. You record it, and play it back to yourself. Your goal isn’t to nail it 8 times out of 10, or even 9 times out of 10, but 10 times out of 10. True mastery.

For me, I’m applying my 4 hours to Syntorial at the moment. When my brain becomes mush after making sounds (it depends on the day), I’ll switch over to videos on synthesis, or making sounds in Logic. Sometimes, I’ll make a song, but that’s not really my focus at the moment. I’d rather practice drops, or builds, and IF I find a sick riff or sound, I’ll make it a song and use everything I’ve learned up until this point. But generally speaking, the goal is to practice specific things, especially weak points.

That’s the key.

So anyway. That’s my new routine. 4 hours a day. 5 days a week. Weekends off (or for things other than music production – business, dancing, jungle adventures, and so on).

If you’d like to be great at something, or if your goal, vision or career demands it, try applying the deep work concept to it.

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