What Is A Synth Pad In Music? (Explained For Beginners)

A pad, also known as a Synth Pad in music, is a kind of background sound, usually a chord, which sets the mood or add atmosphere to a piece of music. It fills the dry music and gives it depth.

Some musicians use it as a way to trick themselves into playing “better” by making the instrumentation more interesting.

Others use it as a more organic way of allowing the music to breathe. It’s important to know the difference between using a synth pad correctly and incorrectly. Incorrectly can hurt your chances for commercial success.

Why Is A Synth Pad Called A Pad?

The term “pad” comes from the word “padded,” meaning padded out. This means adding extra notes on top of something already there. For example: If we were playing a song where the main melody was C major, then we would play another line over the top of it, but instead of just one note, we’d use two different chords so that we could make our harmony.

No one knows who first come up with the term ‘pad.’ It’s a huge mystery, and there is no evidence where this pad sound exactly started from. We might think the term pad is used not so long ago, but it is also possible that the pad’s music dated several hundred years. 

Composers like JS Bach have already used string instruments to pad out textures beautifully, and this pad concept hasn’t changed much at all. It is just that the instruments and the tools used to make this kind of padding sound have evolved quickly. 

The pad is an atmospheric sound that runs beautifully in the background like soft padding of music.

What Is A Synth Pad In Music?

How Do You Use PAD Sound In Music

There are many ways you could use a pad in music:

1) To create a sense of space – This is probably the most common usage of pads. The idea here is to give the listener a feeling of being somewhere else than they are.

You may want to do this because you feel that the song needs some extra breathing room. Or maybe you’re trying to get away from the main melody line and let another party take over.

2) For texture purposes – You can add more depth or complexity to your track by using different types of pads. If you play around with these sounds, you will find out what works best for you.

3) As a way to hide mistakes – Sometimes, when you record yourself playing on guitar, piano, etc., you’ll notice that sometimes you miss notes or chords accidentally. When you listen back later, you realize how vital those missing parts were.

If you don’t hear them clearly enough, then you won’t be able to tell if someone has played badly or not. So, instead of letting people know immediately, you can simply put in a few seconds of silence before continuing.

4) To help you focus on other things – Some composers use pads to help them concentrate better while writing their songs.

How Do You Make A Synth Pad?

A good synth pad should always be made carefully. There are several steps involved in creating a great synth sound.

Step 1: Choosing Your Instrument

First off, you need to choose the right type of instrument to start working with. Most synths today offer multiple choices of pads.

So, the first thing you should do is check out what choices your synth has. Here are some of the more common ones: Choosing the right instrument for the job can be tricky.

But, if you know what you’re looking for, it will make the rest of the process a lot easier. If you have a choice, you might as well go for something with a rich, warm and deep sound.

Something that has a bit of body and a presence. Something that will give the listener a real sense of being “in the room” with you. In this example,

I’m going to use the Korg Wavestation, which comes with a massive library of sounds. But, you could use any synth with a good pad library. (The one I use is called and it’s here: http://www.korg.com/products/wavedetail.php?p=halbert)

2: Choosing Your Sounds

After you’ve got your synth cranked up the volume, it’s time to start selecting your sounds. The first thing you should do is make sure all the effects are off. This will give you a clearer sound.

After that, you should choose a sound that has a slight attack time. This will give you the “pop” that makes a good pad sound. Next, you want to find a sound that has a decay time. This is the part where the sound starts to fade away and become quieter.

And finally, you need to find a nice round-sounding loop. This is the part that repeats over and over. Once you’ve got all these parts, what you do next is layer them on top of each other. Start with the attack sound.

Then add the decay sound. Follow that with the round loop sound. And finally, add the rich, warm body of the instrument. If you do this correctly, you should end up with a pad that has all the elements you need to make a great sounding pad.

3: Adding Variation

So far, we’ve only looked at creating a pad from a single sound. But life isn’t that

simple. Most pads have a lot of “dead air” between sounds.

This is where the skill of the pad maker comes into play. What he does is adds variation such as release time, using filter envelope or filter sweeps. Variation is adding something new over and over. In our case, what we are adding is more sounds—lots of them.

4: Compressing The Loop

Once you’ve got all your sounds layered and your variation added, it’s time to compress the loop. This is one of the most important steps in making a good sounding pad.

What you are doing here is taking all those sounds and tying them together, so they sound like a single continuous sound. This will give the listener a feeling of being “in the room” with you.

It will also give your song or track more power and presence.

5: Finishing Touches

Now that you’ve got your basic sound down, it’s time for some finishing touches. First off, make sure you’ve got plenty of reverb added. This will give the pad some body and presence.

And, if you want to take it to the next level, you could add some space. This will make the listener feel like he’s in a large room and you are “in the room with him”. Another thing you should do is add a small amount of delay.

This will make your pad sound “dance-able”. And lastly, you should fade out the loop at the end. This will give the listener a chance to catch his breath before the next part of the song or track begins.

There you have it. A simple description of how to make a synth pad. I hope it was helpful. 

What are the benefits of using a pad?

A pad can be used to create an atmosphere around a vocalist or instrumentalist. It can help set the mood of a song or piece of music.

It gives a “body” and presence to a track. Pads are often used in hip-hop and dance music. They provide the listener a chance to “breathe” between the more intense parts of the song.

Pads can also be used to add interest and contrast to a vocal performance. If your vocalist is doing a ballad, for example, you might use a pad to bring out the drama and intensity of the song.

Or, if your vocalist is doing a rap song, you might use a pad to bring out the energy and excitement of the song.

Pads are also used extensively in cinematic, orchestral music. It can give a bright sound or a darker sound according to the mood of the music used. 

The way you use pads is up to you. They are one of the tools in your songwriting kit that can be used in many ways. The only real rule is: Use Pads When Necessary! Don’t use them just because they are there.

Use them only when you have a good reason. In truth, there is no hard-and-fast rule about when or how you should use pads.

It’s something you will learn through experience. And the best way to learn how to do something is to do it! So get out your guitar, your mic, your synthesizer, and your piano.

Write some words, sing some melodies, arrange them into a song and see if it needs a pad in your music.

What Is The Difference Between Synth Pad And Synth Lead?

Even though both are a product of synth-based sound, they play a different role in the music process. 

Synth pad sounds are usually in the background. They are the atmospheric, ambient sound that is designed to fill the empty or dry space in the sound.

They are not meant to be heard as much as the other instruments but rather to provide a certain ambiance to the whole composition. 

They can be soft and flowing like water, warm and fuzzy like a campfire, thunderous and powerful like a waterfall, or even a distant foghorn. It’s all up to your imagination.

Synth leads, on the other hand, are more upfront and center stage. They are more of a single note/individual notes played. They have a particular purpose; to drive the song forward and add energy and excitement to it.

Synth Lead

They are the sound that grabs your attention, the one which makes you say, “wow!” They are crisp and clear and usually have a bright, shining quality about them. 

A good example of synth lead music style is the main riff in Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law.” It’s a simple, catchy melody that carries the entire song.

Conclusion – What Is A Synth Pad In Music?

IIn this blog post, I have outlined that a pad is a sound coming in the background that can often fill the space. Pads are sheets of sound running in parallel like a chord.

A synthesizer using a pad is an overdubbed piano note or instrument played by someone else, usually held relatively long.

Pad is often layered with other elements of music like effects and samples to add feeling to songs! Feel free to share this article if you think it is worth it. 

Jacob Miller

Hi, I'm Jacob Miller, and welcome to AudioOver, a platform designed to help aspiring music producers create music from home. With a musical background inspired by my award-winning father, I've been passionate about music since I was young.

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