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I've been wanting to recreate a keyobard/synth tone I keep coming across but I'm not too savvy with it and don't really know where to begin. The tone I'm talking about can be heard in these two songs:

June Marieezy & FKJ

(main keyboard melody first heard at the start of the song)

Homeshake — Call Me Up

(similar sound found here)

If anyone could shed any light on this I'd appreciate the insight.

closed as off-topic by Richard, Tim, Todd Wilcox, MattPutnam, Dom Mar 20 '17 at 2:52

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To my ear, the first one sounds like a square wave with about 70-30 pulse modulation, with a low pass filter with quite a bit of resonance (which gives the sound that nasal quality). The low pass filter is tied into the envelope with about an 80ms attack (which gives it that wah-wah effect) and a very very short release. I think it also has a bit of detune on it, or two oscillators a few cents apart.

The second one sounds more like a sawtooth with a low pass filter set pretty low, so we're hearing a lot of the third harmonic (which sounds like a perfect fifth above the root). This one doesn't have the detune, I think it has a pitch LFO with a short delay, giving it that cheesy vibrato sound. I agree with Dave it sounds like the patch was designed to sound like a horn or brass instrument.

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To me the two sounds seem to be different sorts:

The first seems like a "plucked string" type of synth -- short attack, and some combination of a downward filter sweep or an actual change to the the oscillator frequencies. Very little, if any, sustain, and a relatively short decay.

The second strikes me a more of a synthesized horn (esp. some of the intermediate stages in the first video), or here the main difference being a less pronounced filter sweep and more sustain than the plucked string type of patch.

  • My ear is pretty untrained with this stuff so you're probably right! Those MarcusJamesProducer videos look especially helpful. – Chrish Mar 13 '17 at 15:56
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The thing that seems most in common between these two, to me, is the envelope, particularly the attack. The basic tone of each is different, as Dave and John Wu point out. But the attack, while short, is a little on the soft side. I'd guess the attack, presuming it goes from 0 to 100% in the first stage, is something in between 0.06 and 0.1 seconds. (60 and 100 milliseconds.)

The sustain part stays high, like an organ or a patch with a slow decay. Then the release is again kind of soft-quick, e.g., around 0.1 second rather than abrupt or particularly long.

If you take a harp patch, say for the first case, or a brass patch for the second, and lengthen the attacks (most keyboards are shorter than 0.05 secs, it seems to me, and the same for most brass that has a hard attack) I bet you could get yourself into the ball park of what attracted you to these synths.

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