Recreating the Synth Sound from “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney


In this blog, we’ll explore the steps to recreate the iconic synthesizer sound from Paul McCartney’s holiday classic, “Wonderful Christmastime.” This guide is perfect for musicians and synth enthusiasts who want to capture the essence of this festive tune.

Starting with the Saw Waveform

The journey begins with a simple saw waveform, a universal starting point for any patch.

Increasing Polyphony

Next, we switch the synthesizer to Poly mode. This allows us to play Paul’s chords, adding depth and complexity to the sound.

Changing the Waveform to Medium Pulse

To mimic the distinctive timbre of the song, we change the waveform to a pulse wave with medium pulse width. This is kind of similar to a saw waveform, but with a slightly more hollow and artificial sound, in a good way!

Adjusting the Amp Release

Make the Amp Envelope’s release a little longer. This tweak allows the notes to fade out more naturally, instead of abruptly cutting off. This gives the sound playable feel, much like you get from a traditional keyboard instrument like a piano.

Creating the “Meow” Sound

The signature “meow” shape is achieved using the filter envelope. This involves setting the cutoff to the desired endpoint, adjusting the envelope amount for the starting point, lowering the sustain so that the decay moves the cutoff down, and then shortening the decay and release parameters. The goal is to have a quick, sweeping effect. To make the sound “juicy,” we increase the resonance. This “squeezes” the filter and creates that “meow” shape.

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Implementing Key Tracking

Key tracking is used to make the lower notes darker and the higher notes brighter. While you could use this sound without it, key tracking gets us closer to an exact match.

Incorporating Pulse Width Modulation

Pulse width modulation (PWM) is added to introduce movement into the sound, giving it a subtle “smear” effect. This is a subtle step that removes stiffness and adds a little life.

Softening the Attack

Slightly increasing the amplifier’s attack time softens the onset of each note, reducing the percussive element and creating an almost “compressed-like” sound.

Adding Delay

The finishing touch is the addition of delay. This effect is prominent in the original track, echoing each chord we play. Set the rate to 1/8 so that we hear an echo between each chord during the chorus.


By following these steps, you can recreate the unique synth sound from Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” Each step in this process contributes to capturing the essence of this festive classic, allowing you to add a touch of holiday spirit to your own music creations. Whether you’re a fan of the song or a synth enthusiast, these techniques offer a fun way to engage with one of the most recognizable holiday tunes.