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From Vanquish on 15.03.2006, 15:07:

  How to start ?


I'm a new member and user of Psycle.
For more than 10 years, I'm a "traditional" musician, playing electric and classical guitar.

I chose Psycle to discover the MAO (it's a french word, it means somethink like music with computer), because I like music like trance and techno sometimes too.

I readed the tutorials I found and understood the way a tracker goes. But I'm a bit lost in the incredible number of options of some machines. And I don't manage to get the sound I imagine.

So, how could I start to compose? Are there some machines easier to manage than others?

Thanks for your answer, and excuse my language, but I'm french.


From [JAZ] on 15.03.2006, 19:40:


Welcome to the psycledelics community, and to Psycle

To get used to Psycle, I recommend you to get several .psy's from other users, and learn from there. It usually is a good way to get different sounds (presets) for the machines.

( you can go to http://psycle.sf.net/wiki/Compos for some songs from the last Competitions)

Yet, there are some machines that you might familiarize easier than with others:

arguru synth, Feedme, plucked string, Phantom (to a degree), M3...

The above work specifying the wave form ( the form of the sound oscillation, sinewave, sawwave... ), then VCA and VCF Modulators (Amplitude Envelope, and Filter Envelope respectively), and some of them then apply other effects like chorus or flanger.

Synths like Blitz, GameFX, SuperFM, and even pooplog FM Laboratory are special synths which aim to some specific sounds ( blitz is for machine sound, "chip" music. FM Laboratory to try to emulate an FM sound chip, etc..). You can change the sounds of these, but most configurations keep their specific sound.

About effects, haas can give you some stereo feeling when it sounds too mono. Arguru CrossDelay gives some spatialization (similar to echo). Arguru Reverb and Yezar Freeverb are good reverbs (spatialization, reverberation), each one with its characteristic sound. (Note: the parameters of yezar freeverb show an erroneous text).

pooplog Filter is a good filter with many configurations. You have also two compressors, one from Audacity, and the other from Arguru, which will help on giving punch to the sound and reduce clipping.

Also, don't forget that Psycle can use VST plugins. There are many good and some even free. See the page of the Compo8 (in the compo's page) for links to some of them.

Lastly, there is the sampler, which can play anything you or someone else has recorded.

Now, digest it slowly and good psycling

BTW.. there are several people here which are French, including the psycledelics administrator and one developer.

<[JAZ]> Pa pi pa pa pa pi pa.... ;D

From Vanquish on 16.03.2006, 18:11:


Thanks for your very precise answer!

I took some compos but most of them are too complex. A few are more easy, and I'm trying to understand how they work.

Concerning the machines and the effects, I started working with Arguru synth, Phantom and Arguru reverb, and it gives nice sounds. Even if I don't understand all tjhe configuration.

Thanks a lot,

From FingerSoup on 16.03.2006, 22:24:


My advice - Start using synths with as few controls as possible. They may sound crappy at first, but you'll understand how it all works after a while, and then you can get into creating some beautiful sounds. It may help you to learn some termilology as well.

In terms of setting up machines, most additive synths work the same, but often have different features. Here are some terms to get you going. Some use guitar examples as you said you are familiar with guitar:

Additive synthesis - The majority of synths are additive. meaning you just keep placing more and more sounds together in order to create your sound. Each oscillator is like a string on a guitar. In fact, additive synths are like 12 string guitar, because most synths have more than one oscillator, and you can tune them to different pitches, just as you could on a 12 string. Now imagine if you paired one nylon string and one steel string together on that 12 string guitar - Not all sounds will work together, but that's the basis of additive synthesis.

Waveform/Oscillator - The shape of the wave to be made. do you want a smooth Sine wave sound, a hard electronic buzz, such as a square wave, etc... Mix them up at different frequencies and you can define the basic shape of the sound. Kins of like selecting between Nylon, Steel, or brass wound strings. Each has it's own unique sound, that is entirely different from the other.

LFO - Low frequency Oscillator - Useful for a constant sound similar to a wah or volume pedal, or even a leslie rotating speaker - (typically) a sine wave is played at a really low (usually inaudible) frequency that alters the shape of a waveform at a regular speed as defined by you. It can also be used to control envelopes and other things.

Envelopes - Envelopes are like regular mail envelopes in only one sense - you make your sound fit inside of it. basically there are 4 parts to an envelope, which will cause certain parts of your sound to squish up tight into some spots and spread out wide in others. They typically deal with volume, but other types of envelopes are not unheard of... They can also be applied to an individual oscillator, or to all oscillators... here are the 4 masic parts of an envelope:

Attack - How fast do you want your sound to "Start"... Sometimes, how Loud you want it to start. A short attack will give you a more instant, even percussive start to your sound, much like plucking a guitar string. a long attack will give you a slow build-up, much like using a bow on a violin

Decay - How long do you want your sound to take to reach a stable signal? While not a direct comparison, it's similar to how long you want your frets to buzz against the string before the guitar rings true.

Sustain - how long would you like your sound to go, without changing it before finishing it off?

Release - Short release Values will be akin to muting the strings on your guitar with a wide hand - It's instantaneous. Long release valuses are for letting that string ring on until the string stops vibrating itself.

Of course there's other unique modifiers (Arpeggio, Phase, etc), but these are bonuses. these usually modify the tuning, or other aspects regarding the shape of the waveform. They are modifiers that adjust the waveform in ways more complex than the above controls do. Once you get a handle on these controls, you can make some very interesting sounds indeed.

I thought you beat the inevitability of death to death, just a little bit...

From [JAZ] on 17.03.2006, 13:27:


Sustain usually is "Sustain Level", i.e. the level at which the decay stops and stays until you stop the note (note-off).

In "M3", it is the length, but this is unusual, because it limits how you can use it.

<[JAZ]> Pa pi pa pa pa pi pa.... ;D

From Vanquish on 17.03.2006, 13:31:


What a clear comparison for a guitarist!
Thanks for these grat explainations, they will help me a lot to find the sound I want.

It's a pleasure to see such an accomodating community.


From minifrog on 18.03.2006, 20:01:


MOA -- Musique Ordinator? To me, the music group that started the whole Trance thing, as much as anybody, was Gong. Some of them are from France, yes? Not too well-known here in the US, but "Camembert Electrique" and "You" are a couple of my all-time favorites, of course.

I found a very informative webpage about synth usage and posted it a few months ago. It is in agreement with FingerSoup's most eloquent description, and goes into every further level of detail you could desire, although some of it is specific to hardware synths. I thought it was really good, and even printed it out. The links were in this thread.

And there are no hard-and-fast rules for this great program. Things I have found useful have been a good bpm calculator, and the best IMO I have found is arbpm, located here. Also, I am enjoying finally having an inexpensive midi controller. The Psycle program -- or rather, the tracker community originated from people who didn't have midi technology, I believe, but now midi is incorporated -- although given time and effort, I may have become good at using the qwerty keyboard as an instrument.

From Taika-Kim on 20.03.2006, 10:15:


Get some VST plugins, they have a lot of presets that can help you get started...

The link list for the latest compo is a good starter. And VSTs usually have a better user interface than the native plugins...

From dark_virus on 21.03.2006, 15:28:



My sugestion is: use samples!! If you want some techno stuff, you can download some TR-909 samples (for a start, of course) and start to load then in Psycle's sample manager. There's tons of drumkits floating on the net. Google it!

Then, when you master the basic loops, you can play with bass samples. And so on. At this moment, I'm starting to learn the logic behind the build in synths, which I've found amazing!

And get some VSTs too. If you're a minimalist musician, maybe you can throw effects off, but if you want that extra "je ne sai quoi" , you can use some nice free VSTs/VSTis. My sugestion here goes to:

- Blue VST series (complete suite)
- Classic series

For more info on these plugs, visit: www.kvraudio.com

These tips are based in personal experience.

BTW, a major problem with Psycle is the LACK OF MACHINE PRESETS. It's really hard to figure out all those knobs, and the Psycle gurus could make some cool presets, at least for the main synths. Or, if it's too complex to include them, maybe people could put some small "psy" files with presets only. I know, you can call me lazy, but for people with 0 knowledge about synths (like me), this can be a good start point.

Myspace | Soundcloud

From minifrog on 24.03.2006, 19:33:


Re: great, easy to use, (free or inexpensive) VSTs:

**#1, I think for a beginner I most strongly recommend my fav drum machine, drumatic 3, which is pretty easy to use and comes mapped to the 3rd octave of your program so you play that note and that drum sound comes out, about as plug-n-play as it comes. (No need to deal with midi programming yet.) That's one very strong thing to start out with. It is very configurable, and just an incredible piece of free software.

**Another is a vst sampler that can play multiple samples (which don't have to be drums, but that is a common use, I believe.) and my choice so far is loopazoid, which also automatically maps each of the 30 or so samples to notes on your keyboard, simple.

**The KarmaEffects plugin pack is also awesome, and Nik, the programmer, does take modest donations, which is not a bad idea to give if you use them much. His delay effect included in the plugin pack is now a standard of mine.

**The Smartelectronix Supaphaser also. This is a real classic, and btw goes back a few years now. I was using the BeOS version of this in 2000.

***Finally, Tapeit is a VST that is a pass-through effect you can place anywhere in the chain in order to record just that "wire" in that one location, whenever you want, as long as you like. You can place it just before your Master machine and record everything, or place it just after any effect and record just that one, in real-time. The recording functions in Psycle are very developed, but I find myself wanting to record just a short sample of one effect, often. Then I can slice that short recording up and use it as a sample, quick and easy.
And that list goes on and on, with new VSTs being created every day. I have heard some talk here that VSTs made with Synthedit don't work well in Psycle, but I have found several that work well for me.

You will find that more than 10% of the VSTs you get will not work, don't do anything you want, will crash Psycle, or even crash your computer. This is not unique to Psycle, believe me. With all these VSTs being made, you can be sure few have been tested thoroughly on a variety of VST hosts, and almost none have been tested with Psycle. Psycle creates a VST error log just for this reason, so you can delete unruly plugins.

Original by The_Brainwashed
My sugestion is: use samples!!

And my recommendation is also to use samples, but to also create them yourself. You can use just the native plugins and some VSTs to generate/modify sounds. Record that, and then use that material with a sliceing program, such as Beatcreator ($100 US), Recycler (~$200 US), or just use Audacity ($0 US), which actually has some basic beat slicing functions nowdays. Then when you use these samples in your Psycle environment, they will be pre-synced with one bpm already. And the recording/rendering functions in Psycle lend themselves to this method of working very well, as does the VST I mentioned above.

Yes, I guess I should mention Audacity, if you don't know about that one, it is a must-have. It is one of the best audio editor programs out there now. Very comparable to an older version of Soundforge most of us have seen, thnx to Rdium.


BTW, a major problem with Psycle is the LACK OF MACHINE PRESETS.

Maybe it's time for us users to start a bigger effort toward collecting presets then. Then when we finally have a good collection of them, they can perhaps be added to the installer for all new users? I believe we have a thread for presets. I will see if I have any good ones to offer.

From Vanquish on 24.03.2006, 21:07:


Thanks for this list of VSTs !

I tried some of them like Drumatic 3, it's very good, because Ithe drum kit (the native plugin) doesn't allow, I think, to make a lot of different percussion sounds.

Concerning the samples, I have a question...
How do you compose withj samples? Do you find a cool sample and do you start your compo with it, or is it the contrary?

Thanks, your messages are very helpful !

From minifrog on 25.03.2006, 01:48:


Original by Vanquish
How do you compose with samples? Do you find a cool sample and do you start your compo with it, or is it the contrary?

That is a qestion of style. Psycle allows either, I think. For composing primarily with the melody first, using synths might be as well suited. And while we're recommending VSTs, a couple VST synths I have had an easy time learning with would be EZ, and Ganymede. They both have a whole lot of good presets, good for learning with, too.

Other ways of composing: You can just play one of the generator machines and Psycle will record your actions (to radically over-simplify) so you can set up a basic drumbeat with drumatic, and then play a midi keyboard along with it, save the "song," and then neaten it up or add to it in the pattern view. So you can just improvise, or sketch a melody and then flesh it out.

I think for composing with a melody you may want to have a controller, or a keyboard on hand. The least expensive I know of is the Creative Prodikeys keyboard, which most will consider a toy, but it is actually pretty well suited to tracker use. This is the only midi controller I could afford, since I am supposed to use this computer for work, really. :-)

Or you can goof off like I do, and just slice and dice a few dozen samples out of an audio recording, play them in the sampler, Loopazoid, or SFZ, and then through a dozen or so delays and effects. May not be everybody's idea of music. But if you grew up under the influence of Daevid Allen, Terry Riley, Robert Fripp, and John Owsley, your idea of music may not be the same as everybody else's ;-)

From dark_virus on 27.03.2006, 23:18:


That's the true magic about Psycle. There's sooooo many ways to work.

In my case, samples are the must. I use samples everywhere: drums, basses, 303 stuff... I'm ridiculous with synth programming, so I need some good presets.

For melodies, I agree things can be more difficult regarding samples. They just can't fit at all. In this case, I use some synth preset or soundfont, make some crappy melody in Psycle itself and export it as a wav. Then, I load it in the built-in sampler and play around with some weird FX/editing. This if for 2 purposes:

1 - preserve CPU usage
3 - avoid crashing

Yes, Psycle is specially sensible when using Synthedit-made VSTs. Some plugs works great, but most can be a pain in the b**t. In general, I avoid this kind of plugin.

For basslines, I use samples all the time. It can be a 1-note sample, or a soundfont. I change to Psycle resolution in order to make accurate "decays". And I find loop points whenever is possible, since Psycle can handle them nicely.

It will be interesting if Psycle has some sort of "fine tune" in the sample editor. And maybe increase that useless "wav editor" there's no even a "play" button... Actually it will be cool if Pscyle could open an external audio editor, like Acid and other progs.

Of course, Psycle is far from a "complete suite" for music production, since I have to use external progs to make some things. But it's a matter of time, since there's people working hard to make Psycle still better.

Myspace | Soundcloud

From Taika-Kim on 29.03.2006, 10:41:


About samples for melodies:


It rocks

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