Learn Live 10: Wavetable – Changing wavetables

Learn Live 10: Wavetable – Changing wavetables

August 14, 2019 7 By Kailee Schamberger


Ableton Live’s Wavetable synthesizer comes with a plethora
of Wavetables yielding numerous options of timbre. Let’s take a closer look at how to select and change
the Wavetables. So what is a Wavetable? A Wavetable is simply a collection
of short looping samples that are arranged together. Here I’ve loaded up the Spectrum device, which I can
explode in order to see the harmonic content of the sound and how it changes when we scan through
the Wavetable position. If you play a note with the oscillators fixed
to one of these samples you gonna have a steady tone with a consistent timbre. The real power of Wavetable’s synthesis comes by moving
between the various samples in the table as the notes play. This resolves in a shifting and dramatic timbre. Wavetable comes with 12 categories, giving you the option
of selecting more than 100 Wavetables ranging from classic hardware synths
to acoustic instruments, a harmonic series, and various types of noises, angelic pads and many more. Let’s take a look at the basic shapes.
Here, we can move the Wavetable position from a sine wave, to a triangle, to an upwards saw,
all the way up to the square wave. The true power of Wavetable’s synthesis
comes from scanning through the tables. On the Modulation Matrix, I can use the LFO to change
the Wavetable position of Oscillator 1. And this creates the dramatic change of timbre
that you’re hearing. Let’s open up Wavetable’s interface and add in the second oscillator.
Here we can see all the movement happening. There are no filters applied to the oscillators,
it’s just a timbrel change being introduced by moving through the Wavetable. Let’s create an epic pad.
So on Track 2, in the Complex category I’ve selected the Wavetable Dubstep Organ.
Check out how it sounds. So this is a complex waveform, and by scanning through
the Wavetable, we can hear how the timbre changes gradually.´ This is nice to add in if you want some more characteristic
sounds, so let’s open up Wavetable’s interface and add in the second oscillator.
This is from the Distortion category and is called Malice. Look at the hard shapes of the Wavetable. This is easy to hear. We’re having some very harsh sounds,
and altogether, we’ve created a very nice, lush sound. As mentioned earlier, the true power of Wavetable’s
synthesis comes from modulation. So let me increase the Global Amount of modulation here,
which will add movement to the Wavetable position and the Filter Frequencies. On Track 3, I’m running an Arpeggio to the Wavetable
from the former category. It’s called AEIOU, and it’s the vowel sounds. To create some movement I’m using LFO 2
in Re-trigger Mode. This means that whenever a key is pressed
the LFO restarts. Alright, let’s beef up this sound by adding in the second
oscillator which takes its table from the Instrument category and Marimba. Check out how it sounds on its own. So a cool thing that I added here in the Modulation Matrix
is that the Pitch value, the note that I’m playing, is affecting the Wavetable position. With a negative value,
a higher pitch will result in a lower position in the wavetable. If I increase the number, higher pitches will result
in a higher position in the Wavetable. OK, let’s hear both oscillators together. Almost there. Let’s beef it up a notch more
by adding in the Sub oscillator. Boom. Super rich sound. Let’s hear the full composition altogether. If you feel the need to add even more sounds to Wavetable,
you’re able to import your own custom waves under the User category. Alright, that’s it.
Enjoy having fun with Wavetable.