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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Great course

The basics are explained very clearly. The oscilloscope is a visual added value.

6 months ago

Thanks for helping me review the basics of Synthesis!!!

Really appreciate you taking the time to make a well-produced review of the basics. Just ordered two books from your website and can't wait to get them. Also will be taking more of your online courses in the future. Thanks for your hard work and as a student I really appreciate you making this portion available for free :)

6 months ago

Great for a beginning.

Highly concentrated on the most important elements. Thanks Chris.

8 months ago

Amazing introduction!

For those who hesitate to get the paid courses I can guarantee you that the other stuff is even better and deeper. Check Chris' YouTube channel to get a feeling. Chris' skills as an educator are singular and he lacks even the slightest trace of elitism or unexplained jargon in his teachings. You can learn everything with his courses alone (while the book is an amazing addition). I really doubt I would have ever sustained learning modular synthesis without his material. Thanks, Chris!

8 months ago

Fast track!

Extremely clear and quick; a solid foundation. Great job.

11 months ago

Simple and clear!

After only few weeks orientation in the new amazing world of modular synth, mostly addicted to VCV rack, i still feel in the need of some basics, and these was very helpful! Thx!

1 year 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 writing module reviews for Synth & Software. 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.