These days it seems like synthesizers are always marketed in terms of how aggressive, huge, and earth shattering they can be. It's very rare you hear about the more gentle qualities they are capable of. Recently Berhringer has been teasing their new analog poly synth, and in one of the videos, I swore I heard the word "peaceful" in describing the sound. Turns out it was actually a heavily-accented "beautiful." (Thanks to CDM for clearly that up). But it got me thinking that "peaceful" is a really nice quality that isn't explored enough. The result is the Peaceful Synths Ableton Live Pack, 65 Instrument Racks with multiple layers, each with multiple sounds to choose from.
Below is a little musical demo of the Pack. I added two acoustic guitar tracks to the music I was working on at the end of the video at the bottom of this post. The music contains 3 Instruments from the Peaceful Synths Pack, 1 Drum Rack from my Analog Drums Pack, and 2 acoustic guitar tracks.
Turning to Some Unexpected Sources
I knew I wanted to sample some of my hardware synths and perhaps a few software synths. Although the Moog Sub Phatty and Korg MS-20 are known for their powerful bottom end and screeching filters, I've always enjoyed their softer side. I also employed Teenage Engineering's OP-1 (especially its internal sampler), as well as a wide variety of patches I've built in Live's devices and some 3rd party VSTs.
While sampling each note, there was a lot of knob turning and modulation. I set up many of my patches to evolve with LFOs and Envelops, but as I was recording, I made sure to do a lot of additional knob turning on parameters that cannot otherwise be modulated. For this reason, the Instrument Racks in the Peace Synths Pack really shine on long, sustained notes.
Peaceful Synths Ableton Live Pack
A massive collection of mellow, chill, relaxed, peaceful Instrument Rack presets. A wide variety of hardware and software synths were programmed and sampled with peaceful sounds in mind. Features 65 Instrument Rack presets with multiple layers for over 900 possible sound combinations!
Building the Instrument Racks in Ableton Live
Now that I had recorded a bunch of long, moving samples, it was time to build the Instrument Racks. The first thing I did was build a four-layer sound selector Rack. There are a total of ten of these, located in the Presets folder called "Single Sound Selectors." These Racks allow you to sculpt the sound with Macro Controls for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release; as well as with a Filter Type of your choice. The final Macro Control is the Sound Selector, which lets you choose between four different sampled instruments. So each of these ten Single Sound Selector instruments has four instruments in it, making for 40 sounds in total.
Since I'm going for long evolving peaceful sounds, I wanted to create some additional multi-layered instruments. So I built 55 "Multi Sound Selector" Instrument Racks. This is where things start getting interesting! Each one has two layers and each layer has four sounds you can choose from. That means there are 16 different combinations of sounds in every Rack, multiplied by 55 is 880. Add in the other 40 sounds from the "Single Sound Selectors" and the Peaceful Synths Ableton Live Pack has 920 possible sound combinations!
The "Multi Sound Selector" Racks allow for even more control and effects on each sound. First, you can mix the two layers together however you like. Next, you can alter which sound is playing on each layer. There's a Low and High Pass Filter for the entire Rack and for each individual layer. Reverb and Delay can be added to the entire Rack. You can change the octave and add Tremolo, plus a cool panning effect I call "Head Trip," on each individual layer.
Enjoy the Peaceful Sounds!
The result of this work are some beautiful evolving and soothing sounds. I really recommend sustaining the notes for a while to listen to all the movement going on in each sound. You can build some really nice textures layering different sounds together.
Check out the video below, it's the a live stream I did showcasing the workings of the Pack, and demonstrating how everything works. It finishes with a improvisational jam that I think does a nice job showing how nice these Instrument Racks can sound.