Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Note-Grid Modulators Synthwave Polysynth EQ-plus

Using Polyphony Mode in Bitwig Studio to Create Complex Patches

Tutorial | Jun 23, 2021

In this video, I discuss how to use Bitwig Studio and the Grid to utilize polyphony mode. This allows you to build a patch, and then create multiple instances of this patch by using multiple voices. I show how to use the envelope modulator to keep the voices alive and how to use the pitch input to tweak the voices differently. I also discuss how to use the volume knob, the loop mode, the phase input, and the reverse switch to achieve the desired effect. Finally, I explain how to use the Replacer to create a self-playing patch without notes.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

What is the polyphony mode of the grid?

The polyphony mode of the grid is a way to create multiple instances of a single patch by using multiple voices. This allows you to change each voice differently, creating much more complex sounds than would be possible with just one patch.

How can I trigger multiple voices from outside the grid?

In Bitwig Studio, you can trigger multiple voices from outside the grid by using a keyboard or piano roll. You can also use the envelope modulator to analyze the audio stream and decide which voices are active or not.

How can I create different melodies for each voice?

You can create different melodies for each voice by using the pitch input. You can select one or the other input via the pitch, and then tweak the pitch input signal with a volume knob to spread it out evenly. You can also use a multiply module to amplify the octaves between C3 and C4.

How can I use the replacer to make a self-playing patch?

You can use the replacer to make a self-playing patch by outputting MIDI notes and using a test device to bring the threshold down


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] In today's video, I want to talk about the topic I talked about in the recent streams.
[00:05.920] It's about the polyphony mode of the grid and how you can utilize it to your advantage
[00:11.360] by building just a small patch and then create multiple instances of this patch by using
[00:18.320] multiple voices and then change each voice differently and you get much more out of just
[00:24.680] one patch with multiple voices.
[00:27.480] And it's not possible from within the grid.
[00:31.680] You need to trigger multiple voices from outside the grid but there are multiple possibilities
[00:38.080] of course in Bitwig Studio, I want to show you all of them.
[00:41.760] So let's start and maybe switch over here to my desktop so you can see how it looks like
[00:47.360] in Bitwig.
[00:48.760] So we have here the beta version of Bitwig Studio, but this works in all Bitwig versions
[00:57.680] with the grid in it.
[00:59.400] So what we need is of course a polygrid and for me the default mode for polygrid is
[01:09.720] the mono here, as you can see in the inspector on the left side, it's a mono mode which
[01:14.680] means we only have one instance running when we press a key, when we press multiple keys,
[01:23.680] all the other keys are basically muted and we only hear the last key we are pressed.
[01:31.440] So it's monophonic, right?
[01:35.040] So when we build something inside the grid, we don't need an ADSR to keep the voice alive,
[01:42.840] the voice or this one voice is always active.
[01:46.680] So when we use maybe a gate here to trigger something in AD, maybe a sign, a Sine-Oscillator
[01:57.520] and we hook this up here, maybe use an audio out and then maybe use the pictures here,
[02:08.720] it's a nice thing to do.
[02:11.760] Maybe you can draw in here some random melody, it's not really important for the sake of
[02:16.640] this tutorial.
[02:18.640] So maybe we use here my beloved scale, hook this up, turn this down, I use my headphones
[02:32.760] and let's connect these two here.
[02:35.080] So now we have like a patch running without using keyboard or piano roll or anything.
[02:52.760] And what we do now is we switch this to a polyphonic mode here, we have now two voices available,
[02:59.440] we can use and you can see the patch basically stops running.
[03:04.360] The reason for that is the grid now uses the envelope modulator here to see if one voice
[03:15.800] or some voice is still active and when there is no active voice available, then everything
[03:22.400] is muted.
[03:23.400] So to trigger at least one voice, we need some input from the outside, maybe a key from
[03:28.480] the keyboard or maybe a note from the piano roll, it doesn't matter.
[03:34.800] And in this iteration of the grid, I think in the beta, I disabled here the pre-cord for
[03:41.640] the gates and also when I disabled the pre-cord for the pitch input here, can trigger this
[03:49.280] grid which should not be possible, but it's possible, I don't know if it's a bug or
[03:55.520] if I'm completely wrong.
[03:57.640] But when I press the key on the keyboard now, I can start the grid at least with one voice,
[04:03.960] when I press the second key, now we have two voices running, but they're playing the
[04:10.520] same melody in the same speed and so on.
[04:15.600] So what we're trying to do is, maybe let's stop this here, as you can see when I pull
[04:23.160] down here the decay setting, it's muting then all the voices and this happens because
[04:30.080] when you select here the envelope, you can affect the voice lifetime, maybe you can pull
[04:35.760] down here the decay setting.
[04:37.520] So basically the audio stream that goes through the envelope is analyzed and when there's
[04:45.160] no audio stream that we commutes the voice.
[04:48.840] So this is basically the analyzing part which decides if it's a voice active or not and
[04:56.480] you can change this on envelope here, I think you can also change this on the output, there's
[05:01.480] an effect voice lifetime switch here, just to explain why this happens.
[05:09.880] So now we have one voice, you can trigger this with a keyboard and the pitch input from
[05:15.120] the keyboard is not so important, it's important that you trigger multiple voices.
[05:22.000] So we press two keys on the keyboard or you paint two notes on the piano roll and you
[05:26.800] can create two instances of this patch which plays the same melody and the same speed
[05:34.920] and the same gate signals and so on.
[05:37.360] And what we now trying to do is to differentiate between these two instances with modulations.
[05:47.400] So one voice plays one melody and the other voice plays a different melody and we can
[05:52.960] do this by for instance using the pitch input here because when I press two keys they
[06:03.200] have probably different pitch informations or different values of pitch.
[06:10.240] And you can see this by now Cisco should not work in the polyphenol mode.
[06:17.440] Maybe I use and select and the pitch decides which input we use.
[06:27.600] So maybe we use also here a phase input and the reverse and also the tri input.
[06:40.720] So now we have the phase input here in input check one and the reverse signal on input
[06:45.800] check two and which one we take decides the pitch from the keyboard.
[06:52.840] And now our mission is basically to tweak the pitch input signal.
[06:59.760] So we select one or the other and you can do this by using a volume knob.
[07:12.480] So all this does is basically takes the signal and we can raise or amplify the signal
[07:19.120] and spread it out even more.
[07:21.960] So when I press now two keys on the keyboard I'm using here C3 which is important C3 is
[07:32.920] exactly zero in the grid.
[07:37.880] So this gives us a signal of zero in the pitch input and then maybe take your one octave
[07:45.120] higher and then we go here to loop mode and make this a bit smaller.
[08:02.080] And now we try to yeah I can see we have now selected your two inputs at the same time.
[08:12.400] So this is voice 1 and this is voice 2 now.
[08:16.960] And what we need to do here is we need something that affects the voice lifetime.
[08:22.880] So maybe I implement here an ADS R. It's a bit longer with the pitch input from the
[08:29.640] input with gate input from the outside.
[08:32.560] So now we keep the voices alive with this one here for a longer amount of time and you
[08:36.920] can see we have now two voices active.
[08:41.760] You can see we playing here the same pitch pitch as a pattern but in different directions.
[08:59.840] So instead of one voice we have now two voices playing the same patch but with different
[09:10.960] modifications.
[09:14.640] What we can do now is also duplicate this here and instead of the pitch input we maybe change
[09:21.880] also the octave which we are playing in.
[09:43.760] And then we have the same one octave higher and we select the input here also via the pitches.
[09:56.280] So now one voice plays reverse one octave higher and the other one plays the default octave
[10:05.600] and forward okay so what we can do now is we can exchange here the select maybe let's
[10:15.160] turn this down.
[10:16.880] We can exchange the select module or a merge module and we can go for three inputs.
[10:30.560] We also need three voices now and maybe for the third voice we use our scalars we change
[10:39.840] the playback speed and for the pitch we go here on one octave higher so okay.
[10:53.080] So now we need something to change here for the input because the volume input or the
[11:00.040] volume spread out for the input of the notes worked quite well for just having select and
[11:05.840] two voices but for three voices we need to spread out the octave a bit more evenly.
[11:12.960] So what I'm doing here is using just a multiply and multiplying it by roughly 10.
[11:26.440] But the stars are basically I'm taking the octave from C3 which is 0 or value 0 inside
[11:34.440] the grid 2 C4 which is I don't know 0 dot 1 or something multiply this everything by 10
[11:43.160] which gets basically C3 is still 0 because 0 times 10 is still 0.
[11:50.960] But we amplify all the above notes basically in terms of value much much higher so we can
[11:58.920] spread out everything here between 0 and 1 which is here probably when I switch here
[12:05.680] to which which is when I have normalized active.
[12:09.880] So I put this in here also in here switch to nearest and now we need three notes between
[12:17.520] C3 and C4 maybe use one here so I try to spread out evenly.
[12:24.080] So basically this is my range from 0 to 1 this is what I'm trying to achieve here.
[12:30.920] So we have now three active voices as you can see all three LEDs are lighting up and
[12:37.960] now we have also you can see three columns here playing.
[12:53.880] It sounds a bit weird but it kind of works for now.
[12:59.400] What we need to do now is because the playback speed is different here.
[13:06.800] The playback speed for the gates are still the same for every instance so we need to change
[13:12.280] this also here maybe switch this off and go in here.
[13:18.920] So now we have also three voices playing here with the gates for all the voices so let's
[13:26.360] listen to this.
[13:55.560] So this kind of is interesting enough because now we have just one pitches module that defines
[14:06.400] all the notes.
[14:08.120] What we playing this add on basically in different rhythms or in different speeds and also in
[14:14.640] different directions which if you are familiar with the app on iOS I think it's called
[14:22.680] Fuku Fuku which does basically the same you have a pattern and you play it in different
[14:30.280] speeds in different directions and you get nice rhythms out of this.
[14:42.280] And you can clone this device, the smudge device here to everywhere in your patch and
[14:49.600] use this to differentiate between each voice.
[14:54.520] So you can say maybe I want to use different modulations for different things on each voice.
[15:06.240] Maybe use a modulator out here.
[15:13.520] We want to maybe modulate here the skew and you can now dial in for each voice different
[15:19.040] value.
[15:23.720] So each voice has a different skew modulation now or clone this over and choose it maybe
[15:33.960] here for it.
[15:50.680] So now you get basically different AD settings for each voice.
[16:00.400] So in this way you can make a simple patch pretty complex just by using multiple note inputs.
[16:12.280] There's also the possibility to instead of using here the notes we use maybe just one
[16:20.280] note, go inside the grid, turn the note FX and use a moody note output.
[16:27.200] To have our first note here maybe go to 7 and have the same outcome basically just with
[16:42.600] one note.
[16:45.160] If you don't like the note at all and you want to still have a self-playing patch then
[16:51.200] you can use here the replacer which outputs MIDI notes and you can see you have the key
[16:59.920] of C3 and then just use a sign or also called test device test tone and just bring it down
[17:13.520] here to threshold.
[17:23.200] They can define a button here and say use this button and call it play and modulate here
[17:36.200] to threshold down and every time we press this nothing happens.
[17:51.400] So now you have basically a self-playing patch without notes anything but it's polyphonic
[18:00.000] and you can use this to make these kind of interesting patterns out of just one patch
[18:08.360] module.
[18:09.360] Maybe go to 16 here.
[18:22.480] Also quite interesting is maybe use your quantizer and I can use your all the notes from the
[18:31.200] scale maybe for one or one thing but we can also maybe use different parts of the scale
[18:43.920] here for different voices.
[19:03.920] You can spread out different notes here and use them for different reasons maybe for
[19:10.720] bass line and the melody and so on so you can simplify certain parts.
[19:40.720] Yeah this is basically what I wanted to show you so you can make out of a simple patch
[19:52.680] much more complex things so yeah that's it switching back here to my so I hope it wasn't
[20:02.280] too complicated this time I try to explain everything as simple as possible try out to
[20:08.300] build this patch yourself it's a nice technique you get nice results out of it and if you
[20:14.780] have problems splitting it then keep asking questions here in the comments or in my
[20:20.200] discord the link is in the description below.
[20:23.280] Yeah I want you all to become nice grid pros and to become addicted to grid to the grid
[20:33.360] and bitwix studio itself so this is my mission.
[20:36.520] So keep pushing have some fun and I see you in the next video thanks for watching and bye.