Video: Tips for Improvising Live With Synths

Natalie Chami—who you may know as TALsounds or from her previous Reverb videos—is here with us today to share her techniques for improvising with synthesizers on the fly. As TALsounds, Natalie creates a lot of experimental and ambient music and much of it is born out of live improvisation with synths. So, how does she get started?

For the purposes of this lesson, Natalie is zeroing in on a few important factors to concentrate on when you're improvising with synthesizers. The first is timbre—the character or quality of a musical sound as distinct from its pitch and intensity, or as Natalie puts perfectly simply it, "the way something sounds."

Think first about the kind of music you want to create, the feeling you want to inspire with your sounds, and start with a note that reflects what you're after. "So if I'm thinking about creating some sort of all-encompassing kind of mood, I might want to start with a tone that is warmer and sustained and long-toned."

Natalie goes on to talk about the importance of considering things like texture, rhythm, and dynamics when improvising with synths. It's important, for example, to think about volume as related to pitch. "When you play something in a higher frequency, anticipate that our ears are going to hear that first no matter what. Higher pitches are more triggering, I guess, in our ears, so think about turning the volume down ahead of time so that we're not shocked by that higher squealing, tone, or pitch."

Check out the full video above for all of these tips and more, and click the links below to shop the gear Natalie used in this video right here on Reverb.

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