Originally Posted by Babyslayer
so i have no idea how to read what they are saying.
That's because those are intended for a DX7 which has a little label next to each knob. Choose the function with that particular name, set the value, rinse and repeat.
Could anyone give me a brief overview?
Let's take the "Glide" patch in the Brian Eno article as an example:
When they say "algorithm 3", you need to rebuild the algorithm nr. 3 of the DX7. FM8 should have that in its list of preset algorithms. If not, here's what it looks like on the DX7 itself.
However, in FM8, there's a fully flexible setup, which makes the translation from this algorithm to FM8's version not really obvious. To know what it should look like, we can study the values at "27: Output" (27 matches the number of the function button on the DX7)
On the DX7, you could describe this algorithm in words as follows:
Operator 3 modulates operator 2, which in turn modulates operator 1. (this is the left pair)
Operator 6 (which has a feedback loop) modulates operator 5, which in turn modulates operator 4. (this is the right pair)
The end result (audio) of operators 1 and 4 is mixed and sent to the output.
Conceptually, the algorithm is a pair - 2 groups of 3 operators each. You also have algorithms that have 3 groups of 2 operators each. Each pair can be seen as a complex (or not so complex) oscillator; so in this case, the DX7 is in what you'd call "2-oscillator mode" on a regular subtractive synth.
The left pair is really simple; Op 3 and Op 2 aren't doing anything, so the result is a simple sinewave. It says "+4" and "-4" for the detune of Op3 and Op2, but they don't do anything. Parameters like this can be used as "protection" - if someone would have engineered this patch from scratch, they would both be set to zero since hey, they don't do anything. If the patch was copied outright, it would have this "junk DNA" in it.
The right pair is more complex. Op6 modulates Op5 with an output of 73. Op6 is tuned to 2.884 (mode is "F", which, if I recall correctly, means that the pitch does not change throughout the keyboard, though I'm not sure. I have to try this).
Op5 modulates Op4 with an output of 89, tuned to 9.00. Op4 is tuned to 2.00.
In FM8, you could use A, B and C for the left pair, and D, E and F for the right. But, since Op 2 and Op 3 aren't doing anything, you could simplify this.
Use Operator A as the sinewave at pitch 1.00, and send its output to the mixer at full volume.
Let Operator B assume the role of Op6. Send its output to Operator C, which assumes the role of Op5. Send the output of Operator C to Operator D, which assumes the role of Op4. Send the output of D to the mixer.
Then you have to translate the rate/level in the EG, and then you're almost there.
If all of the above is Greek to you, don't feel bad; the translation is an arduous process and the reward's probably not going to be that big. It makes more sense to buy a DX7 or TX7 and use a dedicated DX7 editor to recreate the patch there because all the values there will match perfectly - save it, and then have FM8 import the sysex.