In this series of videos, I will go over how to use Ableton Live 11’s Operator synthesizer. Ableton’s Operator is based on the famous Yamaha DX7 synthesizer that was the first widely used keyboard that used the frequency modulation (FM) synthesis discovered by Stanford’s John Chowning in 1967.
The sound of FM synthesis, to me, is a complex color that can sound almost metallic. This accounts for the ‘bell-like’ sound that many Yamaha DX7 presets had. Sound designer Brian Eno was able to make some incredibly beautiful compositions from it such as ‘An Ending (Ascent) and provided the sound design for some of the most listened-to records of the 1980’s such as U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree.’ Many pop producers between 1983 and 1989 used the standard presets of the keyboards and so much of 80’s music was shaped by the pre-programmed sounds of the Yamaha DX7. For some classic examples, check out this playlist.
In these three videos, I will first show the basic concept of FM synthesis and then show you how to construct a chordal/pad sounds with the synth.