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A trigger is a very short electrical pulse signal, rising from 0 volts to a standard level such as 5 or 10 volts for a few milliseconds before falling back to 0 volts. It is often used to start or “trigger” the playback of a percussion sound, including starting an envelope generator. They can also be used to pass clock signals around a synth so connected modules all know when a note (or finer subdivision of a note) starts.

A trigger usually has a fixed duration, compared to a gate signal which also rises from 0 volts to a higher voltage and falls back to zero again, but which stays “high” a variable length of time depending on the length of a note.

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