The 4 Element Synth by Rob Papen is the culmination of years and years of sound design and subtractive synthesis experience. Rob Papen packed in these 200+ pages and four DVDs, over 10 hours of content, showcasing “his own method to explain the secrets of subtractive synthesis.”  Rob Papen calls this method “The 4 Element Synth.”  This book and set of DVDs is Papen’s book of tips and tricks for anyone that is interesting in learning for the first time and even those who wish to further develop their sound design and subtractive synthesis skills.

According to Rob Papen’s site “In 2001, Rob Papen began giving exclusive master classes teaching ‘synthesizer sound design” in his studio.” It was in these masters’ classes that the 4 Element Synth method was born.

From my perspective as a beat maker, hip-hop artist / musician, and in the interest of The BBoyTechReport Book Club, I’ve always wanted to introduce like-minded cats to anything that might incite creativity or new ways to approach making beats. That’s where I believe a book like this, from an expert like Rob Papen, is important enough to recommend to those that follow The BBoyTechReport Book Club.

Firstly, in an age where e-readers, e-books and PDF files rule, I have to mention that The 4 Element Synth book is made to last like a sleek hard back text book. The 200+ page hard back is definitely coffee table worthy (for those of us that regard music equipment as a common part of daily conversation). It even has a little book marker ribbon that will help you keep your place in the book when you return to it.

So what does The 4 Element Synth (The Secrets to Subtractive Synthesis) by Rob Papen have to offer both the budding and seasoned synthesizer enthusiast? Well, as mentioned above, Rob exposes his tried and true 4 element synth techniques. The techniques and terminology that Rob introduces to the reader / viewer makes synthesis clear, understandable and digestible. Included is a chart where Rob breaks down each of the 4 Elements. It this chart it is clear that you may already know of the four elements, especially if you’ve had any amount of gear lust in the last two years (what I’d like to refer to as the Analog Renaissance Era). The question then becomes… if you’ve heard of the four elements, do you know what to do with them?

How about those waveforms? What are they good for? Which should you choose of you want to model a sound after, say, an oboe? What do you choose if you want that mean bass / lead? Which waveform is best if you want to design a nice lush pad? Not too sure? Well, you will understand this and a good grip more after reading this book and /or watching the DVDs.

Speaking of which, the four DVD set could very well be a retail package of its own. Fortunately, Rob Papen has included them with the book. In effect, the 4 Element Synth is a self-paced masters’ class to subtractive synthesis.  You can choose to simply read the book, read the book and watch the DVD’s later or read and follow along with DVD with the book as a reference. But I’d recommend using both as the DVDs do refer to the text for more detail at times.

All in All, I think that beat-makers of all genre’s (especially hip-hop – emphasis on this due to my perspective as a hip-hop head) can truly benefit from expanding outside of the box. I understand that we 16padians can be a bit skittish when it comes to learning more about the keys and synths. But I also understand that most of us lust for the latest greatest synths like the Arturia Minibrute, Moog Sub/Slim/Little Phatty, Moog Minitaur, DSI Mopho, NI Massive, Waves Element and even iOS apps / synths like Thor, iMini, Arctic Keys etc. I also know that we could all stand to sharpen the blade of understanding with regards to yielding the power of these deep synths where many of their owners never even scratch the surfaces.  To that end, I’d say do yourself the favor and take the time to dig into this set of DVDs and the book. It will save you time in the long run and I’m certain it will add a bit more inspiration to your beat making process. It may even extend the life of your various synths (apps, software and/or hardware) once you know what to do with them beyond cutoff and resonance.

So allow me to introduce a refreshing, fun and simplified way to learn synthesis. The Four Element Synth

The BBoyTechReport Book Club features and recommends exemplary books for the composer, beat maker & producer looking to expand his/her knowledge of making music and “making it” in music. The books featured here represent the high standard of BboyTechReport’s quest to present beat makers & producers with the tools and knowledge that will inspire the creation of incredible music. Stay tuned to The BBoyTechReport Book Club… “Better reads for better beats.”



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