Make your music sonically unique with automation

Add depth and character to your music

In this article we’ll be looking at how to create a more sonically interesting and unique composition using macro automation.
Changing the sound design over the course of a piece can add a lot of depth and character to a piece that might otherwise feel static.

We’ll dive into how the automation looks for the three main elements used in the piece, Drone, Heavy Bass Impact and Lead Arpeggiator, as well as the motivation behind the changes for each of them.


Here’s a preview of what we’ll create today with Arturia Pigments and automated macros.


Quick Tip: Use a drone to circumvent the blank canvas effect

Finding the right sounds for that elusive spark of inspiration, can at times be quite challenging and time consuming. What I like to do is to start with one of the evolving Arturia Pigments drone presets from ECLIPSE and use it as a single-note background bed to lay a foundation. You might not end up keeping the drone in the end, but it’s great for sparking ideas and you quickly circumvent the dreaded blank canvas as well.


Drone - Tethys

Here’s our starting point, a single note held down.

Without Automation

Since the drone is more of a background element in this piece, the changes are of a subtle nature. As can be seen in the image below, I drew a pulsating automation pattern for Macro 2 named “Core” to give it a nice rhythmic quality as well as a slight sense of danger leading into the next section with a 1 bar rise.

The second lane of automation controls the Modwheel, recorded live for organic and smooth filter modulation over the course of the piece.

Drone Tethys

With Automation


Bass Hit - Arkas

Next up we’ve got the heavy bass hit, somewhat similar to a soft 808 kick drum with some distortion, to give the piece a strong percussive structure to align the listeners sense of rhythm to.

Without Automation

With synthetic elements overall, I find it even more important to use automation and change a sound throughout a piece of music, otherwise it comes across as non-organic and static. We want our synthetic sounds to feel alive and emotionally engaging, macros in Arturia Pigments are a fast and easy way to accomplish that.


With Automation

For the bass element the automation of the Modwheel is fairly simple. The first hit is the most aggressive one, accentuating the start of the section, second hit is mostly low end. Then we open up the Modwheel at 80% on the third hit and the final hit of the first 4 hits is primarily low end as well.

The second part of the sequence is just a straight upwards moving line that opens up the filter which makes the bass sound more and more aggressive with each hit.

Bass Hit Arkas


Lead Arpeggiator - Ektuh

Up till now the automation has been relatively simple, but for our center piece we’re gonna do a bit more. Automating 2 macros as well as the volume for a subtle weaving effect.

Without Automation

While I absolutely love making arpeggiators it can be quite difficult to bring new life to them. However, with automated macros, it becomes a completely different sound and makes it all the more interesting and unique.


First let’s automate the volume to create that subtle weaving effect, this makes the melodic component of the track less constant and adds depth to the otherwise static pattern.

Next we automate macro 2, called “Pressure” in the Pigments preset, starting out with the highest setting, gradually fading it out and then slowly moving the aggressive nature of this macro up towards the end of the section.

Macro 3, controls “Chaos” which is connected to a variety of pitch parameters, making the sound dissonant and chaotic in nature. It steadily weaves up and down in intensity throughout the composition until the end where it goes below 50% for a brief moment.

Lead Arp Ektuh

With Automation


Explore and experiment with macros

I hope this was a useful article and I encourage you to experiment with automating the macros in your favourite synth, be it Arturia Pigments, Xfer Serum or one of the other amazing synths out there, and see what cool sounds you can come up with!

Finally I’d like to mention that in our own sound set ECLIPSE for Arturia Pigments, all presets have macros assigned and I made sure they create meaningful changes to the sound, which is great for tv, film and video game scoring in particular.