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By Dennis Kambury
Making the most of your synthesizer
You've sprung for that killer new synth, and it's sitting in your room all shiny and new. You know how much power is contained behind those knobs and LEDs, and you know it's going to take a while to master it. However, there are couple things you can do right away to maximize its out-of-the-box potential.
Use all your outputs
Many of today's synths, such as the popular Korg Triton, or Kurzweil K2600, have multiple outputs as well as the usual left and right outputs. Use all of them - you will gain an incredible amount of creative headroom! For example, instead of using the stereo drum patch as-is, you can divide the patch so that the snare and kick are on individual channels while the toms and cymbals are each assigned to a separate stereo pair. Now you can adjust EQ, reverb, pan, and level for each element of the kit.
Layer your sounds
It's easy enough to dial up a horn patch, grab a handful of keys, and call it a horn section - perfect! Or is it? For more realism, take the time and think about a real horn section - each horn will be very slightly out of tune with the other horns. As well, each horn will attack the note at not quite the same instant in time. Your job as an arranger, then, is to vary the MIDI information for each part somehow. One of my favorite ways to do this is to first record the part in my typically ham-fisted fashion, and bang out the chords using an appropriate patch. Now that I've got something to play against, I go back and record each individual part with a different or tweaked patch. After all the parts are recorded, I delete the scratch track, and am left with a horn section that sounds far more realistic.