Who could forget the suit-and-tie clad Robert Palmer surrounded by a “band” of five vapid models obviously only pretending to play? Considering the small fortunes spent on videos then, “Addicted to Love” was cheap, simple, and used the oldest trick in the book: hot girls in slinky dresses. It didn’t hurt that “Addicted” was a seriously catchy tune featuring big ’n’ brassy synth stabs. This month we’ll create our own beefy analog stabs on hardware and software synths: the Alesis Ion and Native Instruments’ Massive. You can make this patch on just about any analog or virtual analog synth that has two (or better, three) oscillators. Follow the steps, and you too will be “Addicted to Love.”
Step 1. Set all available oscillators to pulse waves.
Step 2. Set the oscillators an octave apart; if you have three oscs, put two at the same pitch and the third an octave up. Detune all oscillators enough to hear some chorusing, but not enough to sound audibly out of tune.
Step 3. For tonal motion, route an envelope generator (usually the one that controls the filter) to control the pulse width of the oscillator waves. Set attack around 100ms, decay at 300ms, sustain to medium, and release off. These don’t need to be exact, so don’t worry if your synth doesn’t show times.
Step 4. Using a lowpass filter, set the cutoff frequency relatively low, then turn up the envelope amount knob so that the envelope you set in Step 3 controls the cutoff. You may need to experiment, but we want it to sound like a brass section.
Step 5. Set the volume envelope similar to the filter: attack around 100ms, decay at 300ms, sustain full up, and release off. Make sure the attack isn’t too fast, as it takes time to blow air through a real horn.
Step 6. Add a thick, juicy chorus effect either from the synth itself, or as an insert effect in your DAW’s channel strip.
WEB EXTRAS - Audio Examples and Extended Programming Notes
Here are some notes on my Robert Palmer "Addicted To Love" patch, created with Native Instruments' Massive virtual analog synth.
"addicted_chords.mp3"- here's a little demo of the complete patch playing the signature brass chords. Note that this figure is mainly in A major, but during the last three chords, it switches to Am, so the the C# note becomes C natural.
"addicted_one_osc.mp3"- this is oscillator one which is set to a pulse wave, and has its pulse width swept using ENV1.
"addicted_one_two.mp3"- now we add oscillator two, also set to a pulse wave and tuned to the same octave, but detuned a bit to fatten things up. I used the same envelope to modulate pulse width.
"addicted_one_three.mp3"- one more oscillator is added. Pulse wave and pulse width mod settings are the same, but this one is tuned an octave higher and detuned 12 cents sharp.
"addicted_filter.mp3"- here we add the filter which is set to standard 24 db/oct mode. Cutoff is relatively low, and the same envelope we used to modulate pulse width is set to modulate (i.e. open) the cutoff frequency. You may need to experiment to get the initial cutoff and modulation amount dialed in right. I also added a touch of resonance of realism.
"addicted_filter_chor.mp3"- same as above, but I used one of Massive's built-in effects generators to add some stereo chorus. Mix is set to about 70% wet/30% dry, so it's not too overwhelming.
"Addicted_brass.ksd"- GET IT HERE. This is the patch setting file for use with Native Instruments Massive. To load it, just click the "File" button in Massive (next to the patch name field at the top), select "Open Sound", and point it to the location you downloaded the patch file to.
Mitchell Sigman/Keyboard Magazine