Designing Magic Spells 2/2

Axel Speller

In the first part of this tutorial, we designed elemental magic patches with GameSynth, progressively adding variation, control, and logic. Now that all the basics have been covered, let’s have some fun and create other types of spells!


First, let’s swap the previous generators (Fire, Rock, etc.) for something a bit more unruly such as the Chaos module, in order to create a darker invocation patch:

  • Set low values for the two frequency parameters of the Chaos module to generate a synthetic sound that still has an organic feel to it.
  • It will be paired with a Noise Bands module using narrow bands and going through a Chorus.
  • Two Animal modules are added, one generating a growly component, the other producing a breath-like sound.
  • All generators are then mixed and sent to the stereo outputs of the patch. On their way, they are modulated in amplitude by phase-shifted LFOs and sent through Spectral Delay This reinforces the organic feeling of the sound.

Among the 130+ generators and effects available in the GameSynth patching environment, several modules allow for the design of vocalization-based sounds, like the Animal module used above, the Glottis module in the next patch, as well as the Creature and Formant Filter modules. For a quick overview of all the modules and their capabilities, you can always check the Periodic Table of Modules.

The following patch seats on the opposite side of the magic spectrum. It produces pad-like sounds that are perfect for white magic spells:

  • Three Glottis modules are mixed, with their pitch modulated and detuned to create a chord-like sound.
  • Configured with narrow bands in the high-frequencies, a Noise Bands module produces a shimmery sound.
  • The signals are mixed and sent through an 8-voice Chorus for a broader sound.
  • Finally, the highpass EQ Filters and Delay effects smooth the sound and give it a longer release.

Magic Poof

Shorter sounds such as magic poofs are also fun to create! Once the basic whoosh sound of the poof is done, it is simple to add other branches to the patch to create your own flavor. Here is our take on it:

  • A short pink Noise and a 50 Hz sine Oscillator are mixed together, and sent to a lowpass EQ Filter whose cutoff frequency goes up and down, then to a Chorus . This creates the movement required for the poof sound.
  • To make it more impactful, a Blip module is added on another branch. A Spectral Delay creates a longer release for the Blip’s output, helping it to blend with the poof.
  • A shimmering tone is produced by a Noise Bands module (with bands in the high frequencies) while a Chorus adds a bit of modulation and variation to it.
  • Everything is then glued together through a Wavefolder and spread in the stereo field by separate Delay.

Cartoon Charm

Finally, using physical modeling will work well for magic events in cartoons or anime-style projects.

For instance, let’s try this really simple patch:

  • Start with a Clock around 20 Hz that triggers an Impact module for 2 seconds.
  • The Impact’s pitch is modulated by an Envelope to create a kind of arpeggiated sound. The mood of the sound can easily be modified by editing this pitch envelope.
  • A Delay with a long feedback is enough to transform the sound into a magical chime.

By adding some effects and a bit of modulation, a more enigmatic sound can be designed:

  • This time, we use a Modes module with large random ranges instead of the Impact
  • The Clock triggers a smoothed Envelope controlling the Gain at the output of the Modes module to tame the attack as much as possible.
  • The LFO, Flanger and Spectral Delay modules will create the magical effect we are looking for.

With random ranges added on different parameters, this patch can generate a lot of interesting variations.

This concludes our foray into the enchanted realms of procedural audio. As usual, all the patches described in this tutorial can be download below. We recommended checking the GameSynth Repository as well (look for the Magic tag and category) as a lot more patches are available that are sure to inspire you and transform you into a true sonic wizard!