I want to know what is the sound (or instrument) which forms the main melody in the drops from these songs:

What is that sound / instrument called? If I had a digital keyboard and a way to modify the output, how could I reproduce it (what modifications should I apply)?


If you listen carefully to the first track, the odd sounding instrument is the same as the live or synthesized string section that plays just prior, with the addition an effect applied over (see Tetsujin's answer) that causes the sound to drop off suddenly (similar to muffling the strings on an acoustic instrument). Because this is quite different from the natural sound of strings, it makes it sound like an entirely different instrument.

The second track sounds like a synthetic brass section with a similar effect applied. The third track also has the same effect. The voice is a bit harder to identify, in part because it plays together with a synthesized bass line that changes the feel of the instrument.

  • Yeah that's what I was looking for. The instrument, not the effect. Thanks a lot. Is the one in All We Know really a different type of the synthesizer from the one in the other songs? Oct 13 '16 at 16:37
  • Well, the whole idea of a synthesizer is that it can make a huge range of sounds, so it's a bit hard to answer the question "is this the same synthesizer or not"? Even a dirt-cheap modern synthesizer might easily have 500+ different voices. Subjectively, to me, the first two sound like a standard "brass section" voice on an older synthesizer (or a "synthetic brass" setting on a newer synthesizer). The third one doesn't, although it has a similar effect applied to it as the first two. Oct 13 '16 at 19:46
  • After another listen, I had to change my answer. The first track is NOT a synthetic brass section, although it sounds quite a lot like one. Oct 13 '16 at 19:56
  • That's the one I'm most interested in haha. So any idea on what it actually is? Oct 13 '16 at 20:23

It's not an 'instrument' it's a production method - sounds like a side-chained ducking compressor...
when the 'beat' happens, the entire rest of the mix is pushed down in volume, then allowed to rise up again just in time for the next beat.

It's probably more complex than that - & in fact all 3 are different interpretations of the same effect.

  • I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing - I have to look up what a side-chained ducking compressor is first (I'll do it tomorrow). By digging the internet a bit however I found the term "synth lead". Is that by any chance appropriate for what I'm looking for? Oct 12 '16 at 21:12

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