Here’s a quick beginner tip thats important for everyone making music with computers. Polyphony is when two or more notes are being played at the same time. An instrument capable of doing this is called polyphonic. This is opposed to an instrument which can only play one note at a time (monophonic) such as a Moog Voyager. While it may seem strange to limit the amount of voices in your synth there are a few good reasons to do it.
For one, roaring prog rock keyboard solos rely on each note getting the full ear’s attention. Taking a keyboard into mono makes sure that when each new note is hit the last one stops playing completely. If your using a software synthesizer another good reason to limit polyphony is to save CPU power. Each note you play at the same time is practically another complete instance of the plug-in running. Be aware that each note of sound with a long decay such as pads or strings continues to register until every piece of the sound completely fades out. Some plug-ins let you set the polyphony globally and others save the amount of voices within each preset.
Drum machines also use this trick to have the closed hi-hat cut off the open hat. In Ableton’s Impulse plug-in, put your open hi-hat in the last drum slot and the closed hat one slot to the left of it. Now click the Link button at the bottom left of the plug-in. Depending on what I am looking for stylistically I will leave Link on or off. Of course you can even Automate the Link button!
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