Tutorial: Programming 8 classic synthesizer sounds inside GP

Hello there!

While creating a teaching platform for personal use when giving private synthesizer lessons, I decided to expand the idea by modifying the platform into an interactive self-study tutorial.

TAL Noisemaker, a free synthesizer plugin, is used on this tutorial. Make sure you download and install the VST3 version before opening the .gig-file.

This .gig-file will guide you through simple steps, teaching you how to create 7 simple but classic synthesizer sounds:

  • Lead sound for “Separate ways” by Journey
  • Brassy pad sound for “Separate ways”
  • Lead sound for “Take on me” by A-ha
  • Synth bass for “Kyrie” by Mr Mister
  • Simple filter sweep sound
  • Alarm sound effect
  • Helicopter sound effect

On the way you’ll learn about oscillators, envelopes, filters, LFOs and basic effects reverb and chorus.

You will navigate the tutorial inside the Panel view with arrow keys of you keyboard, starting from Rackspace 1 “Welcome / Initialize synth settings”. Everything else you need to know is explained within the tutorial.

You can demo the sounds that you program either by using your midi keyboard, utilizing the Midi file player included or opening up the Midi in block and pressing keys with your mouse/trackpad.

On startup, Gig Performer will give you an error message about files missing. You can ignore this error, the Midi files are pre-loaded inside the player plugin in the Global Rackspace.

Just like in my drawbar organ tutorial, this .gig-file will introduce you to the basics. It won’t turn you into a synth wizard (only loads of practising will do that) but it’ll certainly help you get started on your way.

Also notable: the sounds progammed propably won’t match 100% with the original sounds from the studio versions, but they will get you in the ballpark and showcase you some of the versatility provided by a simple free synth plugin.

Most recent version updated for Gig Performer version 4.8.2
Eight classic synthesizer sounds tutorial UPDATE.gig (16.4 MB)

Old version made with Gig Performer version 4.5
Eight classic synthesizer sounds tutorial.gig (16.1 MB)

Huge thanks go to @jpt, @npudar and Lotte for “beta-testing” this file and giving valuable feedback and ideas. If you find any bugs or feel like the tutorial could be improved some way, feel free to write feedback below this post or via a private message! All of this is a part of a bigger process of finding new ways to teach practical sound design techniques to beginners and intermediate keyboardists, an all kinds of student feedback is valuable!

A couple of screenshots to give you the rough idea



  • A friend of mine pointed out a bug in one lesson (the reverb controls were not routed correctly, so they were pretty much useless).
  • Since the main point of this tutorial is to teach basics that can be utilized with any subtractive synth, I decided to include a small Vocabulary rackspace, so the student doesn’t get too confused when they start tweaking their own synth and the terminology is different (DCO, VCF, DAHDSR etc.).
  • While making a teaching demo for applying to a master’s programme, I improvised a quick lesson where I transformed the first Separate ways sound into a bell sound pretty similar to the one heard on Computer Liebe by Kraftwerk. I added the instructions here in form of a rackspace called “Bell-like sounds”.


Heads up - Mikko added a new gig file for v4.8.2!
See the first post.

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