Circle Tutorial 6 - Creating a Rising Sci Fi Effect

What is Covered?
An intermediate level tutorial on creating a rising sci-fi effect
Introduces the design of sound effects that can be used a build between transistion in electronic music.


Ok so we have tacked a few basic effects patches using Circle, now lets take a look at something a little more challenging. Don't worry if your still quite new to Circle's interface, this sound can still be programmed by the relative beginner.

The sound we are going to look at is a rising effects patch that could be used as a build between transitions or just to create tension anywhere in your arrangement. The sound has a laser gun / sci fi quality and would work really well in electronic music of any genre.

Step 1 - Choosing the oscillators

Circle has already been initialised by hitting the 'new' button at the top of Circles interface and is now ready for programming.

The initialised patch

The type of oscillator used in this patch is not hugely important as the core of the sound is generated by various modulations and effects. Here I opted for a single saw wave oscillator, this is also accompanied by a noise and feedback oscillators.

At this point the oscillators sound rather ordinary when played back but don't worry as this really is just basic foundation of the overall sound. The oscillators are mixed at this point to create a good balance between the different sound types but these levels can always been adjusted at a later point.

The initialised patch

The mixer section

The basic oscillators.

Step 2 - Pitch modulation

A large part of this sounds character comes from the pitch modulation that takes place. In a patch that mimics a musical instrument you wouldn't usually use a large amount of pitch modulation as this would throw your tuning way off, but as this patch is purely an effect we can get away with pushing things here.

The saw wave oscillator's pitch is actually modulated by two separate LFOs in this case. One of these LFOs is supplying the rising effect, using a linear waveform and the second is a stepped waveform creating the sci fi / laser gun feel. These two LFOs combined produce a really nice end result.

Two LFOs modulating the saw wave oscillator

The LFO settings

Pitch modulation.

Step 3 - Setting up the filter and envelopes.

Now the basic elements of our patch are in place we can move onto setting up the filtering and envelopes. First of all the amplitude envelope's attack time is increased to soften the start of the sound, this creates a gentle fade and compliments the rise of the linear LFO.

To make the sound less static a low pass filter was used with a high resonance setting. The cut off frequency of the filter was then modulated with the linear, rising LFO to further exaggerate the effect of the rise.

The envelope settings

The filter modulation

Envelopes and filter modulations

Step 4 - Extra filter modulation.

To add some variation to filter setting a further sine wave based LFO was used to introduce a little 'wobble' to the sound. The effect is pretty subtle but often these small adjustments can have a really positive effect on your overall sound.

Dedicated filter LFO

Further filter modulation

Step 5 - Adding effects and further modulations

The patch is now pretty much complete and at this stage only needs a few of Circle's effects to finish things off.

I used a reverb and delay here to create space and give the patch a more expansive feel. The mix parameter of both of the effects is modulated with the second envelope with a slow attack. This increases the effect of the processors as the sound develops and give the patch a nice 'tail' when the key is released.

Dedicated filter LFO

This patch demonstrates how using modulators to modify more unusual parameters and using the different LFo waveforms can bring about very interesting results. Next we'll look at some slightly more complex instrument and fx patches.

Dedicated filter LFO

Final patch with effects

Download Tutorial 6 Files

Tutorial 6: Creating a Rising Sci Fi Effect
Download the tutorial in plain text format, the associated audio files and the completed Circle sound/patch.