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Modular Synthesizer

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Much of modern music has come to rely on electronic instruments to create and convert sound. Numerous smaller devices make up what is known as a music synthesizer. What are some of the components of a synthesizer and how does each part manipulate sound?

Modular Synthesizer Brochure

Modular Synthesizer Brochure

What are sound waves?

Sound waves are longitudinal waves that begin with a vibration and must be carried by a medium to an observer or detecting device. A possible source of vibration that emits a sound wave could be a drum head or the vocal cord of a person. Various media can carry sound waves, including water, air, steel, and a host of other materials. Sound cannot be transmitted in a vacuum due to the lack of matter to pass the vibration.

What is a sine wave?

A sine wave is a smooth, curved-shaped wave produced by repeated oscillations.
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What is a square wave?

A square wave is a wave with vertical and horizontal lines that is made by repeated oscillations.
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What is a sawtooth wave?

A sawtooth wave, also called a triangle wave, has the shape of the blade of a handsaw. The wave looks like a line of small triangles connected at their bases.
Supplemental Background Figure

How is the pitch of a sound wave related to frequency?

Frequency is defined as the number of waves that pass a given point per unit time. Pitch is directly related to the frequency of a wave; the higher the frequency of a wave, the higher the sound's pitch. A piccolo usually has a high pitched sound, so the waves that make that sound would have a higher frequency than the waves made by a tuba, which has a lower pitch.

What does a voltage controlled amplifier do to a sound wave?

The function of an amplifier is to increase the volume of a sound. Amplifiers typically accomplish this by increasing the amplitude of the sound wave. A voltage controlled amplifier uses increased voltages to increase the wave's amplitude, which in turns increases the volume of the sound.

How does a pass filter change a sound wave?

Pass filters are used in sound and recording systems to "clean up" the quality of sounds. Many times background or internal circuit noises can reduce the quality of a sound wave. Pass filters can be applied to remove unwanted noise of certain frequencies from the sound waves. For instance, a low pass filter could be used to remove the high frequency squeaking of an air conditioner's bearing located in the recording studio that was recorded at the same time an artist recorded the vocals for his latest song.
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