Key Secrets: Mono Poly Lead

An easy way to get more expressive solo sounds
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Here’s an easy way to get more expressive solo sounds: Grab a MIDI cable and layer a punchy lead from a monophonic synth with a swelling pad on a polyphonic one. When you play quickly, you hear just the monosynth. Hold individual notes longer, and the pad sneaks in behind, adding ambience. Play an arpeggio and hold all the notes, and a chord echoes the melody in call-and-response fashion. You can then bend or modulate the chord to add more surprise. Mixing analog and digital synths heightens the contrast. I especially like the combination of smooth sawtooth leads with glassy wavetable chords. (Tweak the attack and decay to suit your playing style.) Visit for audio examples.