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In Pulse Tips this week, we take a look at how to generate pseudo-polyphonic chords in a small system using Braids from Mutable Instruments. Polyphony is not exactly a simple process in a modular synth, requiring a set of modules for each voice, including an oscillator, amp and envelope at the very least. For four voice polyphony, 4 of each of these modules would be needed, possibly more. While Braids does not offer true polyphonic chord creation, the methods available can lead to some interesting experiments in composition.
Chords are combinations of individual notes played at the same time, stacked in pitched intervals usually within a certain scale. Chords with 3 stacked notes are often called Triads. Of course, chords (and sequences of them) can lend a lot of important information to the listener, especially the emotional character of the piece.
With Braids, chord creation is as easy as selecting the correct wave page. Four of the pages (each dedicated to a specific basic wave shape) include 3 oscillators, centrally tuned by the Coarse frequency knob. The other two oscillators can be detuned up to 2 octaves above or below the central frequency, using the Timbre or Color controls. For basic wave shape chords, these modes are extremely useful.
For more complex sounds and chord shapes, the WTx4 (4 wavetable oscillators) mode may be handy. In this mode, the Timbre knob controls morphing of a large body of wave shapes. The color knob, however, wipes across 14 different chord combinations, including 9th and 11th chords, which are more often found in jazz harmony. By modulating or sequencing the Timbre and Color controls, some extremely interesting and useful progressions can be generated.
How are you getting chords and/or polyphony in your system? Let us know in the comments!