Frequency Modulation (FM) is well known as the broadcast signal format for FM radio. It is also the basis of the first commercially successful method for digital sound synthesis. Invented by John Chowning , it was the method used in the the highly successful Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer, and later the Yamaha OPL chip series, which was used in all ``SoundBlaster compatible'' multimedia sound cards for many years. At the time of this writing, descendants of the OPL chips remain the dominant synthesis technology for ``ring tones'' in cellular telephones.
A general formula for frequency modulation of one sinusoid by another can be written as
Figure 4.14 shows a unit generator patch diagram  for brass-like FM synthesis. For brass-like sounds, the modulation amount increases with the amplitude of the signal. In the patch, note that the amplitude envelope for the carrier oscillator is scaled and also used to control amplitude of the modulating oscillator.
It is well known that sinusoidal frequency-modulation of a sinusoid creates sinusoidal components that are uniformly spaced in frequency by multiples of the modulation frequency, with amplitudes given by the Bessel functions of the first kind . As a special case, frequency-modulation of a sinusoid by itself generates a harmonic spectrum in which the th harmonic amplitude is proportional to , where is the order of the Bessel function and is the FM index. We will derive this in the next section.4.9