A waveform refers to the shape of the audio signal generated by an oscillator or sound source, such as a Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) module. The shape of the waveform determines the harmonic content and timbre of the sound produced. Different waveforms have distinct characteristics and are used as building blocks for creating various sounds and textures in modular synthesis.
Some common waveforms in modular synthesis include:
- Sine wave: A smooth, continuous waveform with only one harmonic (the fundamental frequency). It produces a pure, simple tone with no overtones.
- Triangle wave: A waveform with a linear, triangular shape, containing odd harmonics that decrease in amplitude as the frequency increases. It has a slightly more complex sound than a sine wave but is still relatively soft and mellow.
- Sawtooth wave: A waveform with a linear, ramp-like shape, containing both odd and even harmonics that decrease in amplitude as the frequency increases. It has a rich, bright, and buzzy sound, making it suitable for creating brass-like and string-like sounds.
- Square wave: A waveform with a rectangular shape, containing only odd harmonics that decrease in amplitude as the frequency increases. It has a hollow, somewhat nasal sound, often associated with retro or chiptune music.
- Pulse wave: A variation of the square wave, where the duty cycle (ratio of high and low states) can be adjusted. This alters the harmonic content and timbre of the sound, creating various pulse-like tones.
In modular synthesis, these waveforms can be combined, processed, and modulated by other modules, such as filters, amplifiers, and effects, to create a wide range of complex and evolving sounds.