Logic Pro X: Sculpture overview
This section contains key information and concepts that you need to understand before looking at Sculpture features and parameters. If you’re new to synthesizers, it might be best to start off with Synthesizer basics overview, which will introduce you to the terminology and give you an overview of different synthesis methods and how they work.
Sculpture is a synthesizer that generates sounds by simulating the physical properties of a vibrating string. This approach to tone generation is called component modeling. It enables you to create a virtual model of an acoustic instrument, such as a violin or cello. Components such as the length of the neck, the material the instrument is made of—wood or metal, for example—the diameter, tension, and material of the strings—nylon or steel, for example—and the size of the instrument body can be modeled.
In addition to the physical properties of the instrument, you can determine how and where it is played—softly bowed, or plucked, on top of a mountain, or under the sea. Other aspects such as finger noise and vibrato can also be emulated. You can even hit your virtual instrument strings with a stick, or emulate dropping a coin onto the bridge.
Sculpture is not limited to recreating real-world instruments. You are free to combine components in any way, leading to bizarre hybrids such as a six-foot-long guitar with a bronze bell for a body—played with a felt hammer.
You can also create more traditional synthesizer tones in Sculpture. These benefit from the modeling process itself, which tends to add a level of richness and an organic quality to sounds. The end results are lush, warm pads, deep and round synthesizer basses, and powerful lead sounds. If you need to create an endlessly evolving texture for a film soundtrack, or a spaceship takeoff sound, Sculpture is the perfect instrument for the job.
Like a real instrument, Sculpture generates sounds by using an object, such as a fingertip, wind, drumstick, or violin bow, to stimulate another object, such as a guitar string or reed.
Note: For clarity, the stimulated object is always referred to as the string.
As with a real instrument, the sound consists of multiple elements. It’s not only the string that is responsible for the tonal color, but also the objects that stimulate or otherwise affect the string, and therefore the sound.
For example, imagine a steel-stringed guitar that is alternately strummed with your thumb and then picked strongly with your fingers. Changing to nylon strings, or 12 strings, would significantly change the tone. Now imagine the impact of pressing the strings down onto the fretboard, which not only changes the chord but also momentarily bends the strings, and therefore their pitch. Other aspects to consider are the size and material of the guitar body and how they influence the resonant characteristics of your sound. Further elements, such as the size or type of sound hole—round or F-shaped—the finger noise on the strings, and the medium that the guitar is played in, also have roles to play in the overall sound that you produce.
Sculpture enables you to virtually model the physical consistency and behavior of all components involved—hence component modeling synthesis.
This figure shows the signal flow of the core Sculpture synthesis engine.
Following the stimulation of the string by various objects, the vibration of the string is captured by two movable pickups—you can view these as being similar, in concept and operation, to the electromagnetic pickups found on guitars, electric pianos, or clavinets.
The pickups send the signal to the ADSR-equipped amplitude stage, a Waveshaper module, and a multimode filter. These all serve to sculpt your sound.
Note: All elements described above exist on a per voice basis.
The sum of all voice signals can then be sent to an EQ-like module (the Body EQ), which simulates the spectral shape/body response of your instrument, and then processed by an integrated delay effect. The resulting signal is then fed to a level limiter section.
A vast number of modulation sources are also available, from tempo-synced LFOs to jitter generators and recordable envelopes. These can control the string and object properties, the filter, and other parameters. You can even modulate other modulation sources.
A recordable morph function also allows for smooth or abrupt transitions between up to five morph points. A morph point is essentially a collection of parameter settings at a given moment in time.
Important: The interaction between various sections of the component modeling synthesis engine is more dynamic and more tightly intertwined than that of other synthesis methods. This can lead to some truly unique sounds, but sometimes even a small parameter change can deliver dramatically different, and unexpected, results. Sculpture requires a more measured approach to sound creation than a traditional synthesizer design. Refer to the flowchart while learning the interface and programming.
Sculpture is a performance-oriented synthesizer that benefits from the use of controllers, modulations, and different playing techniques. Take time to experiment with all available controls and parameters when you initially audition some of the supplied sounds, and when you create new ones of your own.
Several tutorial sections will help you learn about creating sounds with Sculpture.
Sculpture is an instrument that requires some investment of your time, but it can reward you with beautifully warm and organic sounds, evolving soundscapes—or a harsh and metallic “Hell’s Bells” patch, if required. Don’t be afraid to experiment; that’s what Sculpture was created to do.