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One approach to (often digital) synthesis is to recreate the components of actual instruments – such as a vibrating string or tube, or a resonating body such as the shell of a guitar or drum – and string those together to create sounds. There are a handful of modules available which perform this modeling to create their sounds; in this case, the technique is often referred to as physical modeling rather than as sound modeling.

When the desire is to recreate a sound without necessarily mimicking a physical system (such as additive synthesis, using a combination of sine waves and noise), the term sound modeling is used.

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