The Basic Concepts of Synthesis

Demystifying the terminology commonly used in synthesizers.
When you first get into sound synthesis, it may seem like people are speaking an alien language, describing it in terms of frequency, amplitude, harmonics, waves, modes, poles, envelopes, modulators, and the such.
But behind those words are some fairly simple concepts: What pitch are you playing a sound at? How loud is it? How does that loudness change over the life of a note? How bright or dull does it sound? How can you change that brightness or dullness?
In response, Chris Meyer of Learning Modular created this free, easy-to-understand course that demonstrates – visually, and audibly – these fundamental concepts. The preview movie above shows examples of a few of the subjects covered in this course. Each video includes closed captions, as well as a downloadable transcript.
These movies were originally created to supplement the book Patch and Tweak: Exploring Modular Synthesis that Chris co-wrote with Kim Bjørn, and are designed for a beginner that is just getting into synthesis in general and modular synthesis in particular. This course also serves as a great “newbie” introduction to the subjects discussed in Chris’ other modular synthesis courses.


“Chris!! These are all awesome! Must see for all modular devotees!” 
– Todd Barton

Course Curriculum



Top Rated
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Hans Karlsson

Great introduction

Explained things in a way that was easy to understand. Waiting for the book so I can get started doing some patch learning.

9 months ago
Steve Vasquez-Grinnell

Simple and effective

I had some familiarity with the concepts, but they were simply and elegantly presented here and I gained a new and different perspective. Great intro.

1 year ago
J.S. Learningmodular Ahn

Solid, straight to the point

The concepts are not only very nicely explained, but examples are also provided so that students can audibly visualize the concepts.

2 years ago
Manas Chowdhary

great beginning notes...

ordered the book .. thank you

2 years ago
Gerry McFadden

Excellent start.

All concepts clearly explained.

2 years ago
Jeremy Bramble

A great way to start

A very good introduction to the topic, not too complex. Even if you are already educated about synthesis there is something to get out of this course. Will give a very solid foundation for future learning.

2 years ago
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Chris Meyer

I fell in love with the sound and possibilities of electronic music at a young age. I took synthesis lessons as a teen in the 1970s, learning on a modular Steiner-Parker Synthasystem. A kit-based PAiA modular was my dorm room companion in college. Soon after I graduated, I got a job at Sequential Circuits, where I contributed to several instruments and created Vector Synthesis. I went on to work for Digidesign, Marion Systems (Tom Oberheim), and was the chief engineer at Roland R&D US.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned. I taught synthesis at UCLA Extension, was the technical editor for Music Technology and Recording magazines, and wrote a column for Keyboard magazine. I continue today, co-writing Patch & Tweak – the new book on modular synthesis – with Kim Bjørn, and maintaining a Patreon channel for beginning to advanced users. I also regularly play modular music live under the name Alias Zone, plus jam with others.

I also have a lot of experience creating online training. Before I started Learning Modular, I recorded nearly 50 online courses on creating graphics for television and film for (now LinkedIn Learning). I've brought this experience of how to teach a difficult, technical subject in a patient, step-by-step manner to my modular synthesis courses.