The 1-bit sonic environment (perhaps most famously musically employed on the ZX Spectrum) is defined by extreme limitation. Yet, belying these restrictions, there is a surprisingly expressive instrumental versatility. This article explores the theory behind the primary, idiosyncratically 1-bit techniques available to the composer-programmer, those that are essential when designing “instruments” in 1-bit environments. These techniques include pulse width modulation for timbral manipulation and means of generating virtual polyphony in software, such as the pin pulse and pulse interleaving techniques. These methodologies are considered in respect to their compositional implications and instrumental applications.

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