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An Introduction to Modulators

A step-by-step tutorial

A Modulator is a signal generator that is used to automatically control parameter values. In this way, Modulators can introduce movement to an otherwise static sound, giving it a life of its own.

Bitwig Studio offers a state-of-the art modulation system, that is not only advanced and flexible, but also intuitive and genuinly fun.

Watch the video playlist above to get started, or scroll down for an in-depth step by step tutorial.

Modulators in Bitwig Studio 2

In Bitwig Studio Modulators are available as freely combinable building blocks within every device - flexible and limitless.

Each device in Bitwig Studio (Instruments, Audio Effects, Note Effects, and even VST plug-ins) is equipped with Modulator slots, ready to insert any modulators you like. You can choose from 29 different types of Modulators, and the total number of Modulators per device is unlimited. Several classic and creative variants of LFOs and Envelopes are available, as well as all kinds of new and unique modulator concepts.

For a full list of the currently available modulators, please go to this page...

Accessing Modulators

Every device in Bitwig Studio now displays a Modulators icon in its bottom left corner.

Click the icon to open the Modulators pane. While one column of three slots is visible by default, if you fill all three available slots, a new column, with three more available slots, will appear.

As with any other "+" button in Bitwig Studio, clicking "+" in the Modulators panel opens the Popup-Browser, showing the available Modulators. As you select one, it is inserted into the respective slot, displaying its miniature view.

You are also free to move Modulators between slots by drag & drop:

Routing Modulations

Each of the modulators has one or more of Bitwig’s familiar Modulation Routing buttons (dot with arrow). When you click on it, it starts flashing, and the parameters in the Device panel turn blue (or green, of which more later), to indicate the Modulator is now in Routing mode.

Just by clicking and dragging parameters, you can now specify the direction and depth at which the output value of the Modulator alters the value of a parameter:

Many devices (e.g. Polysynth, which is shown in this example) are equipped with additional FX slots, making it possible to nest further devices into the main device. Modulations are assignable to these nested devices as well:

Modulator Parameters

Click on a Modulator to show or hide its detail view, which gives access to all of the Modulator’s own parameters. A little arrow indicates which Modulator is currently shown:

TIP! Hold SHIFT while clicking to open multiple Modulators:

Modulating Modulators

Of course a Modulator can also be assigned to parameters of other Modulators.

In the example below, Modulator #2 (LFO) modulates the Decay and Sustain values of Modulator #1 (ADSR).

The number of interconnections, dependencies and possibilities is limitless and makes the complexity of a modular system available to you in the most user-friendly way.

CONSULT THE INSPECTOR PANEL TO STAY ON TOP OF THINGS

When you select a Device, the Inspector panel lets you comfortably view, edit and remove any of the current Modulation routings of the Device. This helps you to stay on top of things at any time. Click the "i" symbol in the bottom left corner to show or hide the Inspector panel.

MONOPHONIC OR POLYPHONIC MODULATION

When using internal Bitwig instruments, many modulators can be set to polyphonic mode, enabling per-voice modulation. The Inspector Panel lets you toggle this setting when a single Modulator is selected. The "Per-Voice" checkbox switches the Modulator from monophonic (blue) to polyphonic (green) mode, which specifies that now each note is modulated individually.

In this mode, the Modulator’s miniature view now also displays a dot to visualize the modulation values of each single note.

Monophonic Mode

Assign Button and assignable parameters are blue.

Polyphonic Mode (Per-Voice)

Assign Button and assignable parameters are green.

TIP! The Per-Voice toggle is also available in the contextual menu of the Modulator (right-click on the Modulator).

MODULATORS IN VST PLUG-INS

Bitwig Studio makes its Modulator slots also available to VST plug-ins, just as with all the internal devices. This enables you to expand your favorite plug-ins with any modulation capabilities you like, such as LFOs, step sequencers, randomizers, and even sidechaining functionality.