Within the combined potential of an optical lattice and a harmonic magnetic trap, it is possible to form matter wave packets by intensity modulation of the lattice. An analysis of the production and motion of these wave packets provides a detailed understanding of the dynamical evolution of the system. The modulation technique also allows for a controllable transfer (deexcitation) of atoms from such wave packets to a state bound by the lattice. Thus, it acts as a beam splitter for matter waves that can selectively address different bands, enabling the preparation of atoms in localized states. The combination of wave packet creation and deexcitation closely resembles the well-known method of pump-probe spectroscopy. Here, we use the deexcitation for spectroscopy of the anharmonicity of the combined potential. Finally, we demonstrate that lattice modulation can be used to excite matter wave packets to even higher momenta, producing fast wave packets with potential applications in precision measurements.