CV/Gate - Basic Usage

Basic Usage

In early, modular synths, each synthesizer component (e.g. LFO, VCF) can be connected to another component by means of a patch cable that transmits voltage, with changes in that voltage causing changes to one or more parameters of the component. This frequently involved a keyboard transmitting two types of data (CV and Gate), or control modules such as LFOs and envelope generators transmitting CV data:

  • CV (Control Voltage) indicates which note (event) to play: a different voltage for each key pressed; those voltages are typically connected to one or more oscillators, thus producing the different pitches required. Note that such a method implies that the synthesizer is monophonic. CV can also control parameters such as rate, depth or duration of a control modules.
  • Gate (sometimes called Trigger) indicates when a note should start, a pulse that is used to trigger an event, typically an ADSR envelope. In the case of triggering a drum machine, a clock signal or LFO square wave could be employed to signal the next beat (or rest).

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