In the March issue, we re-created classic house pianos
using modern soft synths. This time around, we’ll
take a deeper look at the house organ bass sound that
launched countless ’90s hits, like Robin S.’ “Show Me
Love” and Nightcrawlers’ “Push the Feeling On.”
Let’s start with the basics. The source of that bass
sound was the legendary Korg M1, which is now available
as a downloadable soft synth from the Korg website
for the astonishingly low price of $49. So if you
want to skip right to the real thing, stop reading here,
buy the synth, and fire up patch number 17, “Organ2.”
If you’re feeling adventurous, here are a few ways to get
the sound using different synths.
The Real Deal
Thanks to Jack Hotop, Korg’s resident Merlin of sound design, here’s
the inside scoop: If you have a hardware or software clonewheel—or,
gasp, a real Hammond organ—then the basic sound is created as
follows: The 16' drawbar set to 8, the 5-1/3' drawbar set to 6 or 7,
and the 2-2/3' drawbar set to 2 or 3, with third harmonic percussion
toggled to normal (not soft) volume and fast decay. From there, slap
on a chorus using medium rate and depth and a 50/50 wet/dry mix.
After the chorus, add a hall reverb with a two- or three-second decay
and a 20/80 wet/dry mix. Feel free to tinker with these settings until
the sound sits correctly in your mix.
*Click here if the player below doesn't load properly.
05-2011 Dance: The '90s House Organ Sound by KeyboardMag
If you’re using a Mac, you can
fire up GarageBand’s Tonewheel
Organ instrument and use the
following settings: the Drawbars
slider set fully to the left in the
“More” position, percussion level
fully to the right (“3rd”), percussion
time at 50 percent, click at 10
percent, and a tiny bit of distortion.
After that, add chorus and reverb
as described above.
Ableton’s Operator can deliver a serviceable approximation of
the sound by setting the algorithm to all carriers, then turning
oscillator 1’s coarse tuning to 1 at 0dB (max), oscillator 3’s
coarse tuning to 3 at –7.3 dB, and oscillator 4’s coarse tuning
to 6 at –1.9dB. In this example, we have oscillator 2’s coarse
tuning set at 2 with that oscillator turned off, as its use is
optional. Slap the chorus and reverb on and you’re ready to roll.
*Download the Korg M1 plug-in.