Synthesizers are mysterious and intimidating boxes to me, but electronic music company Ableton is setting out to explain and demystify the instrument. The company has created an interactive browser game called Learning Synths that teaches users the basics of synthesizers. The friendly tool is thoughtfully designed with fun illustrations and widgets that make it perfect for beginners to tinker around with.
Learning Synths starts out with a lesson on amplitude and pitch, but if you want to skip ahead to synth concepts, you can click on the hamburger menu on the top left corner to learn about envelopes, LFOs, and oscillators. The lessons culminate in the Playground, seen above, where users can play with presets and sequences. The site works in mobile Safari, but you can also connect a MIDI keyboard to your laptop if you’re using Google Chrome.
Drag-and-drop sliders let you adjust to find the sound you want, and there are little surprises as you move through the lessons. It’s a great way to learn about how synths generate certain tones and visually match waveform shapes to their sound.
When you’re finished, you can keep the lessons going by jumping over to the basics of music making through one of Ableton’s earlier browser tools, or take what you’ve learned and move onto Ableton Live.