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How To Make A Monophonic Synth ‘Polyphonic’

a moog voyager

I am a proud owner of a Moog Voyager. I am also the owner of a lazy ass. So, whenever I want something ‘Moogy’, something not too complex, with two or three oscillators maybe, a filter, and polyphony…I fire up a plugin. Arturia stuff, or Logic Pro’s ES P. Let’s change that.

Here’s a simple way to make a monophonic synth ‘polyphonic’, with a little help from Logic Pro 9. It’s more time consuming than working with virtual synths, but once in a while it pays to record a real synth like it’s a true artist.

From Monopoly To Polyphony – Splitting Voices

Let’s assume you’ve got your real-world monosynth all set up with the external instrument plugin, but it’s just sitting in a corner, doing nothing. You’ve played some chords, using some softsynth that sounds like the real thing. Suppose your region looks like this:

matrix editor

In order to have these chords played by a real monophonic synth, you’ll have to record it at least three times, one take for each voice. First, you’ll have to split the voices. You can have Logic Pro do this automagically by clicking Functions->Note Events->Voices to Channels.

If you’d like to have more control over what channel each voice gets assigned to, you can do so manually. Select the top line by pressing +up arrow. In the Event list, change the channel of the selected events to 3. Select the middle line, change the channel of the selected events to 2. Leave the bottom line as it is (channel 1). You may want to read up on how to set all velocities to one value, since this works on channel values too.

Then, in the Arrange window, click on MIDI->Separate MIDI Events->By Event Channel. Result:

separate MIDI Events

Separating MIDI Events by Event Channel

Recording Monophonic Voices Separately

Now you’ll have three separate regions, each region containing one voice. Put them next to each other, to prepare for recording each voice. Leave some room between the sequences if the ADSR envelope of your sound has release. Drag the sequences to the track on which you’ve setup your monosynth, and start recording, one voice at a time. Make sure you have an audio track ready to record and have its input set to the proper channel.

recording a moog voyager

Ready to record each voice, played by a Moog

Beautiful! You now can split your audio region, and drag each region to individual audiotracks. You could pan voices separately, process them individually, and soon you’ll find that this is even better than owning a polyphonic synth… Maybe it makes you rethink how you use your virtual synths too: by using multiple instances of the ES P synth for example, you can turn it into a stereo synth. For a fatter sound, you could do a second run, or third, with the same sound, slightly detuned. That way, you’ll get the most beautiful Unison sound you will ever hear.

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