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Simple Input, Organic Output

Author andre Tue, 2013-12-03 - 14:35

This content is for an older version of Synfire. The current version is more streamlined and advanced, but most of the functionality shown here still exist.

This example is a demo showing how only a few short phrases can make up a dense and lively "hand made" texture that can make a great foundation for a song or soundtrack.

It was built the same way as shown in this video tutorial. This text will explain some aspects not covered by the video.


The chords are plain and simple A Minor. The resulting texture is nevertheless breathing and pushing forward, because the chords move at double speed. Due to the finger picking, bass line and piano arpeggios, the listener barely notices any particular chord change. This is a popular technique to escape the obvious but dull one-chord-per-measure scheme.

Part B is a single E9 chord only.

Key changes occur at 0:49 (Am/Bm), 1:04 (C/D), 1:10 (C#m) and 1:18 (C#m/Am). The last key change at 1:18 is very hefty, an instant jump from C# Minor back to the distant A Minor. Has something fragile to it. The melody glues it together.


As you can see, the phrases are short and simple. Look at the bass. It's merely a single symbol with an odd loop length. The piano arpeggio is very short. The "Piano 2" is muted in the beginning and drops in later to add a touch of hand-made. The resulting texture is organic and full of variety.

The oboe solo is basically a 24 bar figure that repeats over and over. It's the harmony that makes it do what it does! To emphasize and optimize it a bit, I've made snapshots and tweaked the segments. This is my favorite workflow for melodies: Let a figure repeat over and over, then snapshot it in containers to optimize.


While tempo is 165 BPM, drums go at 1/2 speed (not visible here). The pattern is simple and straight. What makes it different is the 1/2 speed relationship to the rest. Actually the chords even move at 330 BPM.

Don't be afraid of tempo. Tip: Before you start, try changing the tempo to something different than 120. This lowers the risk of falling into the same habits again and again.


This piece is at a very early stage of evolution, so there is no real structure yet. Most phrases are still in the root container. I used containers merely to separate parts that I can refine later on. "Intro" and "Part A" contain subfolders with only Pause set for instruments that drop in later.


I've used the following VSTi: SWAM Oboe (, Kontakt Grand Piano (Native Instruments), String Studio (Applied Acoustics Systems, physically simulated cello), Chris Hein Guitars.

Comparing the simple input with the lively output, that's what I am referring to as "Synfire takes care". The challenging part is you need to be sure about rhythm. Harmony, voice leading, scale selection, intelligent transposition and everyting else is delivered by Synfire.

Note: The arrangement file is attached. You can download and play with it.