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Programming Sounds for Eighties Songs on Your Synth Workstation

Are you a musician in an eighties band looking to recreate the iconic sounds of the decade on your sample playback or analog modelling synth workstation? Here are some tips on how to program the sounds for popular eighties songs:

  1. Start by researching the specific sounds and synths used on the original track. Many eighties songs used iconic synths such as the Roland Juno-106, Yamaha DX7, and Korg M1. It’s helpful to know which synths were used in order to replicate the sound as closely as possible.

  2. Use samples or patches that closely mimic the original synths. Many workstations offer patches or samples of classic synths, which can save time and effort in trying to recreate the sound from scratch.

  3. Experiment with different oscillator shapes and waveforms. Oscillators are the foundation of synthesizer sounds, and the shape and type of waveform used can greatly affect the character of the sound. For example, a sawtooth waveform is often used for lead sounds, while a square wave is often used for bass sounds.

  4. Use filters to shape the sound. Filters are used to cut or boost specific frequencies in the sound, which can give it a brighter or darker character. Many eighties synth sounds used resonant high-pass filters to give them a sharp, cutting edge.

  5. Use effects to add depth and character. Effects such as chorus, delay, and reverb can add depth and dimension to your synth sounds. Experiment with different settings to find the perfect balance for your track.

  6. Organize your performance. Plan out the sequence of sounds on your keyboard for each part of the song. Position splits and layers in a way that makes it easy to access and play them during the performance. By properly organizing your sounds, you can ensure that your performance flows smoothly and intuitively.


By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to programming the iconic sounds of the eighties for your band’s performances. Happy synthesizing!


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