I Don't Care About All That Math Crap, I Just Want To Know How To Make Interesting Sounds With It

You're a very practical person, aren't you? You hate small-talk, your wardrobe is small and functional, and you hate the fact that this "manual" is chock full of conversational, lame-jokey banter. Well, I can relate. I mean let's not kid ourselves; making electronic music means you just fuck with some knobs on the interface until it sounds cool, right? Right. You didn't *have* to know how FM synthesis works in order to have been able to coax some cool sounds out of the Yamaha DX7, and that's really the way it should be. You're a musician, after all, not a programmer.

Alright then, without further ado, let's go over each setting in the user interface and see how it affects the sounds you're making.

First things first though; the widgets, namely, the apples. Yeah, I'm using apples instead of knobs. Why? Because apples are sexy and will get me laid. So, when you click and drag up or down on the apples, it changes their value and their sexual intensity/color. You can also type a numerical value in the number box next to it (then naughtily hit enter), or scroll your mouse wheel up and down in the number box to change the value too. But do it slowly; it's more pleasurable that way.

The less pornographic explanation is that it works, it's pretty simple, and it provides the necessary visual feedback critical to a good UI. There ya go. On to the parameters.


Amp. Env.

If you've ever used a synthesizer before, you know what these controlls do (it's an ADSR envelope), and I'll just say that all envelope transition times are linear and can last up to ten seconds. Otherwise, the following controls describe the note amplitude in a series of sequential steps.


When you first hit the note, this is how long it takes the note to go from silence to the maximum loudness it can go. Then...


...the amplitude will decrease to a certain level. This control specifies how long it takes to do that. The level is indicated by...

Sustain Level

...this control. This is a fraction of the maximum note loudness. The note will remain at this amplitude for the rest of the duration of the note, until the note is released. Then...


...the note's amplitude decreases down to silence in this amount of time. Note that subsequent notes played will play on top of this one until the release time is up. If this value is large, you will quickly run into the polyphony limit of this soft synth, which is a pathetic, measly three notes of polyphony (meaning only three individual notes can be playing at a time; no four-note chords for you! (Yeah, sorry about that. In future releases I will concentrate my efforts on making this synth more efficient)).

Clip Wobble

This set of controls is subtle. They control overtones that may or may not show up, depending on how you have the synth setup (but they usually do show up, FYI). In general, if you want to hear more of these overtones, try setting the Ceiling Behavior parameter to Ext. Clipping and messing with the section called “Gravity Mod.” or the section called “Floor Mod.”, or any number of other controls. You'll see.


The higher this is, the more prevalent the overtones will be. However, the higher this parameter is set, the quieter the rest of the note's sound will be. To think of it another way, the note's sound and these overtones share the same amplitude space; when one gets bigger, the other has to get smaller.


Controls how prevalent the overtones are, but in a different way. Doesn't affect the tonality, necessarily.


(Are you loving these parameter names yet? Sorry about this; they just get thrown into an equation and don't really have a real-world equivalent, but if you like, you can name them whatever you want. i.e. A = Donkey Idol Sacrilege, B = Milk Breath Verility)

The lower this is, the more prevalent the overtones will be, but... (wait for it) ...in a different way.


Ah, finally something that sounds musical. And yes, it does affect the timbre of the overtones; lower=lower frequencies, higher=higher.


This set of controls, unlike Clip Wobble, can have drastic effects on the sound. Some of these may in fact be too drastic for the algorithm and cause awkward silences in your music, like the kind of silence that ensues when you ask somebody when their hilarious grandfather who's so full of life will be coming around for some drinks, and forgot that they died two years ago.

Switch Velocity

In general, checking this checkbox makes for some pretty rough sounds. As in not very musical. It usually sounds pretty rumbly and tumbly, and will have even more of an effect when Channel Separation is set to a high value (this parameter brought to you by Pooh Bear).

Velocity Reset

If you want your notes to, you know, sound like the notes you told it to sound like, then this is the parameter you want. Experiment with the whole range to get your sound in line and more melodic. There are pllllenty of controls on this synth that will make it sound inharmonic, so you'll probably be coming back to this one a lot.

Velocity Delay

A fun parameter, if you can get it to not make your synth go silent. If you're getting dead notes in one of your synth patches, look to this parameter first as a possible culprit.

Velocity Sample And Hold

This one is similar to Velocity Delay, both audibly and behaviorally speaking. It can kill your patches too, so set it to zero when you're in doubt. Also note that the higher this value is, the less of an effect the section called “Gravity Mod.” and the section called “Floor Mod.” will have.

Velocity Ring Mod.

This one can give a sharp edge to your tone. Another good method of getting your melodicity (is that a word?) back is to set this and Depth to high values, and maybe mess with Envelope.


Miscellaneous sound parameters that do stuff I couldn't categorize into neat, racist categories.

Ceiling Behavior

This has a huge effect on your sound. Three choices:

Ext. Clip

The bad boy of the group. Generally speaking, using this setting will make for some roudy sounds, but will take a bit more effort to control. You'll probably find yourself tweaking many different parameters when you have this behavior selected, but it's worth it.

Int. Clip

The nice guy of the group. If you're ever having problems with your sound, like it is too rough, too inharmonic, or not even on the map, change to this ceiling behavior and see how you fare.


Unpredictable, like most settings in this synth. Once you set the behavior to this, you'll have to do a lot of experimentation with Ceiling Bounce to get it to sound the way you want.

Ceiling Bounce

When Ceiling Behavior is set to Bounce, this control is enabled and you can adjust it accordingly. In fact, you'll probably have to. Generally speaking, I would recommend trying to set it into the negatives, just a little at first then decrease it more as needed. If you're coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, then try setting it into the positives and see what happens.

Gravity Readjust

Wanna try something cool? When you first start up The Newtonator and get the default settings, and it makes a real bland tone, uncheck this parameter then try it out. Yeah. And the really stupid thing? Setting Ceiling Behavior to Int. Clip will make any other changes to this checkbox almost (almost) unheard.

When everything is real tame-sounding on your synth and/or you haven't messed with many of the other controls on the synth, check this parameter to ensure the frequency of each note isn't just a tad bit off as it would be if this weren't set.

Channel Separation

Increase this to have a more pronounced stereo sound signal. Left and right channels should sound more distinct the higher this value is. Usually.

Gravity Mod.

Most (not all) of the controls in this tab control a particular sound, or overtone, or timbre, whatever you want to call it. I'll call it the Gravity Mod. Timbre here, and the main waveform controlling this timbre I will call the Gravity Mod. Waveform. Got it? Good.


Remember Amp. Env.? Well, this is the same deal, but it affects the amplitude of the Gravity Mod. Timbre. So, if the effects of the settings you set in this tab should, for instance, gradually fade in after the note has been played for half a second, set Attack to .5. Likewise, if you want it to fade out after 1 second after releasing the note, set Release to 1.

You may find that you never mess with these settings, but they're here if you need that much control over your sound. Also, Keep in mind, these controls will not be enabled until Depth is set to anything above zero (because when that's at zero, you wouldn't be able to hear the effect of changing these settings anyway).


All of these parameters control the frequency of the Gravity Mod. Waveform, so your timbre will sound low or high depending on these settings. Just experiment. Go crazy. Go nuts. Grab the Tequila, grab that .38 special, and pay a visit to the nearest Pottery Barn.

Ok, my lawyers informed me I shouldn't tell you to do that. I could be held liable for your retarded actions. And so, I ammend my previous statement by replacing Pottery Barn with Walmart.

Also, like Envelope, these controls will not become visible until Depth is set above zero.

Follow Frequency

You'll want to check this if you want your sound to be more harmonic and follow the frequency of the intended note played. When this is checked, Freq. Drift and Freq. Divider are enabled, and Absolute Frequency is disabled. When it's unchecked, those controls switch their enabledness (yup, it's a word).

Freq. Drift

When we're following the frequency of the note played, we can have this particular frequency either a little above or below the actual note's frequency. Keep in mind this parameter affects the frequency in conjunction with Freq. Divider, so you can have this frequency be just a bit below a full octave below the note frequency. Clear as mud? Just mess around with it, you'll see.

Freq. Divider

Indicates how many octaves above or below the current note's frequency we want this frequency to be.

Absolute Frequency

Sets the intended frequency to an absolute frequency. Keep in mind you can set fractional frequencies, so you can have a verrry slow wavecycle (LFO) here.


This section has a few controls that do not affect the Gravity Mod. Timbre, but they do affect how gravity behaves in the main algorithm, so they will always be enabled, whether or not Depth is set or not. Unless stated otherwise, every other control in this tab is only enabled when Depth is set above zero.

Gravity Scaling

This can have an almost filter-like effect on your sound, and is a very good way to tame your sound if it's getting too out of hand. This control is always enabled.


This is pretty much the main control for this section of settings. It controls how strong (potentially) the Gravity Mod. Timbre is in your sound. Put another way, it controls the amplitude of the Gravity Mod. Waveform, which in turn drives the Gravity Mod. Timbre. Experiment, as always.

DC Offset

This can alter the frequency of the note being played directly (if Depth is mostly kept at zero) as a ratio. So, if it's at ".5", the notes will sound an octave lower, and likewise "2" will play an octave higher. When Depth is set, though, that isn't the case. Try experimenting and set this control above and below the Depth setting and see how that affects the sound.

Grav. Mod. Waveform

This indicates which waveform to use for the Gravity Mod. Waveform. Just experiment. Keep in mind, though, that the External optional will have no effect unless you hook another audio signal into the Newtonator's GMod audio input. It may not even be available, if that setting hasn't been compiled into the synth; it depends on your distribution or on how you compiled The Newtonator in the first place. Please see Grav. Mod. Waveform for more info.

Floor Mod.

As with the section called “Gravity Mod.”, the controls listed in this section control a particular timbre/sound/cacauphony of the synth. I'll refer to that sound as the Floor Mod. Timbre. Also, like the section called “Gravity Mod.”, that timbre is driven by a waveform, which I will refer to as the Floor Mod. Waveform. That, however, is where the similarities end, my friend. For within the bowels of Floor Mod. lies a terrible secret that only the pure of heart can be capable of... of...

I dunno. Something something dark side (that joke may very well date this manual, but if people are still reading this damned thing ten or twenty years from now, mission accomplished).


Same as Amp. Env., but it controls the amplitudinal changes to the Floor Mod. Waveform.

Amplitudinal. Start throwing that word around at the next party you go to, and email to me the results of your little social experiment: mbechard@users.sourceforge.net


Same as Frequency, but it applies to the Floor Mod. Waveform. Same advice regarding craziness, too.


Miscellaneous controls for the Floor Mod. Timbre. Like Misc., there are controls here that aren't necessarily attached to the Floor Mod. Timbre, so they will always be enabled. Unless otherwise noted, all the controls in this section will be disabled until Floor Scaling or Floor/Ceiling Reflect are set to something above zero.

Floor Scaling

Tha hart of tha beast, arr! This controls how much of the Floor Mod. Timbre will be present in your sound. Put another way, this controlls the amplitude of the Floor Mod. Waveform, which in turns drives the Floor Mod. Timbre.

Dead Zone

Changes the sound by kind of making it sound more like a triangle wave. This parameter is less likely to be very audible if the signal is clipping significantly.

Floor Waveform

Just like Grav. Mod. Waveform, but it applies to the Floor Mod. Waveform.

Floor/Ceiling Reflect

This is another good way to force the sound to sound more like the note you're currently playing, rather than sounding like, say, a succession of exploding walruses, or whatever it is sounding like when you press a key. Or for something different, try it with Ceiling Behavior set to Bounce