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A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an
electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power ...
that generates
audio signal Audio most commonly refers to sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion ( ...
s. Synthesizers typically create sounds by generating
waveforms File:22b02.wav, A waveform generated by a synthesizer In electronics, acoustics, and related fields, the waveform of a signal is the shape of its Graph of a function, graph as a function of time, independent of its time and Magnitude (mathemati ...
, through methods including
subtractive synthesis Subtractive synthesis is a method of sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its ...
,
additive synthesis Additive synthesis is a sound synthesis technique that creates timbre by adding sine waves together. The timbre of musical instruments can be considered in the light of Fourier series, Fourier theory to consist of multiple harmonic or inharmonic ...

additive synthesis
and
frequency modulation synthesis Frequency modulation synthesis (or FM synthesis) is a form of sound synthesis whereby the frequency of a waveform A waveform generated by a synthesizer In electronics, acoustics, and related fields, the waveform of a signal is the shape of ...
. These sounds may be altered by components such as
filters Filter, filtering or filters may refer to: Science and technology Device * Filter (chemistry), a device which separates solids from fluids (liquids or gases) by adding a medium through which only the fluid can pass ** Filter (aquarium), critical ...
, which cut or boost
frequencies Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. Frequency is measured in Hertz (unit), hertz ( ...
;
envelopes An envelope is a common packaging item, usually made of thin, flat material. It is designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter (message), letter or Greeting card, card. Traditional envelopes are made from sheets of paper cut to one of ...
, which control articulation, or how notes begin and end; and low-frequency oscillators, which modulate parameters such as pitch, volume, or filter characteristics affecting
timbre In music, timbre ( ), also known as tone color or tone quality (from psychoacoustics Psychoacoustics is the branch of psychophysics involving the scientific study of sound perception and audiology—how humans perceive various sounds. More spec ...

timbre
. Synthesizers are typically played with
keyboards Keyboard may refer to: Text input * Keyboard, part of a typewriter A typewriter is a machine, mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters similar to those produced by a printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an arr ...

keyboards
or controlled by sequencers, software or other instruments, and may be synchronized to other equipment via
MIDI File:Synth rack @ Choking Sun Studio.jpg, alt=Several rack-mounted synthesizers that share a single controller, Using MIDI, a single controller (often a musical keyboard, as pictured here) can play multiple electronic instruments, which incre ...

MIDI
. Synthesizer-like instruments emerged in the United States in the mid-20th century with instruments such as the , which was controlled with
punch cards A punched card (also punch cardSteven Pinker, in ''The Stuff of Thought'', Viking, 2007, p.362, notes the loss of ''-ed'' in pronunciation ''as it did in ice cream, mincemeat, and box set, formerly iced cream, minced meat, and boxed set.'' or pu ...

punch cards
and used hundreds of
vacuum tube A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric voltage, potential difference has been applied. The type k ...
s. The
Moog synthesizer The Moog synthesizer is a modular synthesizer Modular synthesizers are synthesizers composed of separate modules of different functions. The modules can be connected together by the user to create a patch. The outputs from the modules may in ...
, developed by
Robert Moog Robert Arthur Moog ( ; May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005) was an American engineering physicist and pioneer of electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circui ...
and first sold in 1964, is credited for pioneering concepts such as voltage-controlled oscillators, envelopes,
noise generator A noise generator is a circuit that produces electrical noise In electronics, noise is an unwanted disturbance in an electrical signal. Noise generated by electronic devices varies greatly as it is produced by several different effects. In c ...
s, filters, and sequencers. In 1970, the smaller, cheaper
Minimoog The Minimoog is an analog synthesizer first manufactured by Moog Music between 1970 and 1981. Designed as a more affordable, portable version of the modular Moog synthesizer, it was the first synthesizer sold in retail stores. It was first popular ...

Minimoog
standardized synthesizers as self-contained instruments with built-in keyboards, unlike the larger
modular synthesizer Modular synthesizers are synthesizers composed of separate modules of different functions. The modules can be connected together by the user to create a patch. The outputs from the modules may include audio signals, analog control voltages, or ...
s before it. In 1978,
Sequential Circuits Sequential is an American synthesizer company founded in 1974 as Sequential Circuits by Dave Smith (engineer), Dave Smith. In 1978, Sequential released the Prophet-5, the first programmable Polyphony and monophony in instruments, polyphonic synthe ...
released the
Prophet-5 The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by Sequential (company), Sequential. Designed by Dave Smith (engineer), Dave Smith and John S. Bowen (sound designer), John Bowen, the Prophet-5 was the first fully programmable Polyphony and mon ...
, which used
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit, or a small number of integrated circuits. The microprocessor contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitr ...

microprocessor
s to allow users to store sounds for the first time. 1982 saw the introduction of MIDI, a
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes un ...
means of synchronizing electronic instruments that remains an industry standard. The first mass-produced synthesizer, the
Yamaha DX7 The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units. In the early 1980s, t ...

Yamaha DX7
, was launched in 1983, popularizing digital synthesis.
Software synthesizer A software synthesizer, also known as a softsynth or software instrument, is a computer program or plug-in that generates digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal proces ...
s now can be run as
plug-ins Plug-in, plug in or plugin may refer to: * Plug-in (computing), a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. ** Audio plug-in, adds audio signal processing features * Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle * Plug-in e ...
or embedded on single microchips in any electronic device. Synthesizers were initially viewed as
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or ' vanguard', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society.John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical ...
, valued by the 1960s
psychedelic Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness (known as psychedelic experience A psychedelic experience (known colloquially as a trip) is a temporary altered state ...
and counter-cultural scenes but with little perceived commercial potential. ''
Switched-On Bach ''Switched-On Bach'' is the first album by the American composer Wendy Carlos Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music Electronic music is music that ...
'' (1968)'','' a bestselling album of
Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the '' Brandenburg Concertos'' and the '' Goldberg Variations'', and for vocal music such as the ' ...

Bach
compositions arranged for synthesizer by
Wendy Carlos Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, cir ...
, took synthesizers to the mainstream. They were adopted by electronic acts and pop and rock groups in the 1960s and 1970s, and widely used in
1980s rock : ''For music from a year in the 1980s, go to 80 , 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 , 88 , 89'' This article includes an overview of the major events and trends in popular music in the 1980s. The 1980s saw the emergence of el ...
.
Sampling Sampling may refer to: *Sampling (signal processing), converting a continuous signal into a discrete signal *Sample (graphics), Sampling (graphics), converting continuous colors into discrete color components *Sampling (music), the reuse of a sound ...
, introduced with the
FairlightFairlight may refer to: In places: * Fairlight, East Sussex, a village east of Hastings in southern England, UK * Fairlight, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, Australia * Fairlight, Saskatchewan, Canada In other uses: * Fairlight (company), an A ...

Fairlight
synthesizer in 1979, has influenced all genres of music and had a major influence on the development of electronic and
hip hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture and art movement that was created by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans in the Bronx, New York City. The origin of the name is often disputed. It is also argued as to whether hip hop sta ...
music. Today, the synthesizer is used in nearly every genre of music, and is considered one of the most important instruments in the music industry. According to ''
Fact A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Science, Scientific ...
'' in 2016, "The synthesizer is as important, and as ubiquitous, in modern music today as the human voice."


History


Precursors

As
electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its positio ...

electricity
became more widely available, the early 20th century saw the invention of
electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power ...
s including the
Telharmonium The Telharmonium (also known as the Dynamophone) was an early electrical organ, developed by Thaddeus Cahill circa 1896 and patented in 1897. , filed 1896-02-04. The electrical signal from the Telharmonium was transmitted over wires; it was hea ...
,
Trautonium , Friedrich Trautwein and Oskar Sala from 1931 onwards. The Trautonium is an electronic musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be con ...
,
Ondes Martenot The ondes Martenot ( ; , "Martenot waves") or ondes musicales ("musical waves") is an early electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic circuitry. Such ...
, and
theremin The theremin (; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electr ...

theremin
. In the late 1930s, the Hammond Organ Company built the
Novachord The Novachord is often considered to be the world's first commercial polyphonic synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produc ...
, a large instrument powered by 72 voltage-controlled amplifiers and 146
vacuum tube A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric voltage, potential difference has been applied. The type k ...
s. In 1948, the Canadian engineer
Hugh Le Caine Hugh may refer to: *Hugh (given name) Noblemen and clergy French * Hugh the Great (died 956), Duke of the Franks * Hugh Magnus of France (1007–1025), co-King of France under his father, Robert II * Hugh, Duke of Alsace (died 895), modern-day F ...
completed the electronic sackbut, a precursor to voltage-controlled synthesizers, with keyboard sensitivity allowing for
vibrato Vibrato (Italian language, Italian, from past participle of "wikt:vibrare, vibrare", to vibrate) is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch (music), pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. V ...

vibrato
,
glissando In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the socia ...

glissando
, and
attack Attack may refer to: Warfare and combat * Offensive (military) * Charge (warfare) * Attack (fencing) * Strike (attack) * Attack (computing) * Attack aircraft Books and publishing * The Attack (novel), ''The Attack'' (novel), a book * ''Attack No. ...
control. In 1957,
Harry Olson Harry Ferdinand Olson (December 28, 1901 – April 1, 1982) was a prominent engineer at RCA Victor and a pioneer in the field of 20th century acoustical engineering. Biography Harry F. Olson was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa to Swedish immigrant par ...
and Herbert Belar completed the
RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer The RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer (nicknamed ''Victor'') was the first programmable electronic synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrumen ...

RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer
at the
RCA The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a patent trust owned by General Electric General Electric Company (GE) is an American Multination ...
laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. The instrument read
punched paper tape file:PaperTapes-5and8Hole.jpg, Five- and eight-hole punched paper tape file:Harwell-dekatron-witch-10.jpg, Paper tape reader on the Harwell computer with a small piece of five-hole tape connected in a circle – creating a physical program loop P ...

punched paper tape
that controlled an
analog synthesizer An analog (or analogue) synthesizer is a synthesizer A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronics, electronic ...
containing 750
vacuum tube A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America), is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric voltage, potential difference has been applied. The type k ...
s. It was acquired by the
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center The Computer Music Center (CMC) at Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in New York Ci ...
and used almost exclusively by
Milton Babbitt Milton Byron Babbitt (May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011) was an American composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was original ...
, a composer at
Princeton University Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...

Princeton University
.


1960s: Early years

The authors of ''Analog Days'' define "the early years of the synthesizer" as between 1964 and the mid-1970s, beginning with the debut of the
Moog synthesizer The Moog synthesizer is a modular synthesizer Modular synthesizers are synthesizers composed of separate modules of different functions. The modules can be connected together by the user to create a patch. The outputs from the modules may in ...
. Designed by American engineer
Robert Moog Robert Arthur Moog ( ; May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005) was an American engineering physicist and pioneer of electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circui ...
, the synthesizer was composed of separate
modules Broadly speaking, modularity is the degree to which a system's components may be separated and recombined, often with the benefit of flexibility and variety in use. The concept of modularity is used primarily to reduce complexity by breaking a syst ...
which created and shaped sounds, connected by patch cords. Moog developed a means of controlling pitch through
voltage Voltage, electric potential difference, electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential The electric potential (also called the ''electric field potential'', potential drop, the electrostatic potential) is the ...

voltage
, the voltage-controlled oscillator. This, along with Moog components such as
envelopes An envelope is a common packaging item, usually made of thin, flat material. It is designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter (message), letter or Greeting card, card. Traditional envelopes are made from sheets of paper cut to one of ...
,
noise generator A noise generator is a circuit that produces electrical noise In electronics, noise is an unwanted disturbance in an electrical signal. Noise generated by electronic devices varies greatly as it is produced by several different effects. In c ...
s,
filters Filter, filtering or filters may refer to: Science and technology Device * Filter (chemistry), a device which separates solids from fluids (liquids or gases) by adding a medium through which only the fluid can pass ** Filter (aquarium), critical ...
, and sequencers, became standards in the synthesizer market. Around the same period, American engineer
Don Buchla Donald Buchla (April 17, 1937 – September 14, 2016) was an American pioneer in the field of sound synthesis A synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument An electronic musical instrument is a musical instru ...
created the Buchla Modular Electronic Music System. Instead of a conventional keyboard, Buchla's system used touchplates which transmitted control voltages depending on finger position and force. However, the Moog's keyboard made it more accessible and marketable to musicians, and keyboards became the standard means of controlling synthesizers. Moog and Buchla initially avoided the word synthesizer for their instruments, as it was associated with the RCA synthesizer; however, by the 1970s, "synthesizer" had become the standard term.


1970s: Portability, polyphony and patch memory

In 1970, Moog launched a cheaper, smaller synthesizer, the
Minimoog The Minimoog is an analog synthesizer first manufactured by Moog Music between 1970 and 1981. Designed as a more affordable, portable version of the modular Moog synthesizer, it was the first synthesizer sold in retail stores. It was first popular ...

Minimoog
. The Minimoog was the first synthesizer sold in music stores, and was more practical for live performance; it standardized the concept of synthesizers as self-contained instruments with built-in keyboards.Franklin Crawford (August 23, 2005)
"Robert Moog, Ph.D. '64, inventor of the music synthesizer, dies of brain cancer"
Cornell University News Service. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
After retail stores started selling synthesizers in 1971, other synthesizer companies were established, including ARP in the US and
EMS#REDIRECT EMS Ems or EMS may refer to: Places and rivers * Domat/Ems Domat/Ems ( rm, Domat ; german: Ems) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powe ...
in the UK. ARP's products included the
ARP 2600 The ARP 2600 is a semi-modular analog circuit, analog Subtractive synthesis, subtractive Synthesizer, audio synthesizer produced by ARP Instruments, Inc.. History Developed by a design team headed by ARP namesake Allen R. Pearlman and engineer D ...
, which folded into a carrying case and had built-in speakers, and the
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major Ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek Epic poetry, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern ...
, a rival to the Minimoog. The less expensive EMS synthesizers were used by European
art rock Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that generally reflects a challenging or avant-garde approach to rock, or which makes use of modernist, experimental, or unconventional elements. Art rock aspires to elevate rock from entertainment to an arti ...
and
progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as classical rock or symphonic rock; sometimes conflated with art rock) is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid-to late 1960s, peaki ...
acts including
Brian Eno Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (; born Brian Peter George Eno; 15 May 1948) is an English musician, record producer, visual artist, and theorist best known for his pioneering work in ambient music and contributions to r ...
and
Pink Floyd Pink Floyd were an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1964. Gaining an early following as one of the first British psychedelic music, psychedelic groups, they were distinguished for their extended compositions, sonic experime ...
. Designs for synthesizers appeared in the amateur electronics market, such as the "Practical Electronics Sound Synthesiser", published in ''
Practical Electronics ''Practical Electronics'' (previously known as ''Everyday Practical Electronics'') is a UK-published magazine that is available in print or downloadable format. Publication history ''Practical Electronics'' was founded in 1964 by IPC Magazines ...
'' in 1973. By the mid-1970s, ARP was the world's largest synthesizer manufacturer, though it closed in 1981. Early synthesizers were
monophonic Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction (often shortened to mono) is sound intended to be heard as if it were emanating from one position. This contrasts with stereophonic sound Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of ...
, meaning they could only play one note at a time. Some of the earliest commercial
polyphonic synthesizer Polyphony is a property of musical instruments that means that they can play multiple independent melody lines simultaneously. Instruments featuring polyphony are said to be polyphonic. Instruments that are not capable of polyphony are monophonic ...
s were created by American engineer
Tom Oberheim Thomas Elroy Oberheim (born July 7, 1936, Manhattan, Kansas Manhattan is a city and county seat of Riley County, Kansas, United States, although the city extends into Pottawatomie County, Kansas, Pottawatomie County. It is located in northeaster ...
, such as the (1979). In 1978, the American company
Sequential Circuits Sequential is an American synthesizer company founded in 1974 as Sequential Circuits by Dave Smith (engineer), Dave Smith. In 1978, Sequential released the Prophet-5, the first programmable Polyphony and monophony in instruments, polyphonic synthe ...
released the
Prophet-5 The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by Sequential (company), Sequential. Designed by Dave Smith (engineer), Dave Smith and John S. Bowen (sound designer), John Bowen, the Prophet-5 was the first fully programmable Polyphony and mon ...
, the first fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer. Whereas previous synthesizers required users to adjust cables and knobs to change sounds, with no guarantee of exactly recreating a sound, the Prophet-5 used
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit, or a small number of integrated circuits. The microprocessor contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitr ...

microprocessor
s to store sounds in patch memory. This facilitated a move from synthesizers creating unpredictable sounds to producing "a standard package of familiar sounds".


1980s: Digital technology

The synthesizer market grew dramatically in the 1980s. 1982 saw the introduction of
MIDI File:Synth rack @ Choking Sun Studio.jpg, alt=Several rack-mounted synthesizers that share a single controller, Using MIDI, a single controller (often a musical keyboard, as pictured here) can play multiple electronic instruments, which incre ...

MIDI
, a
standardized Standardization or standardisation is the process of implementing and developing technical standard A technical standard is an established norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task. It is usually a formal document that establishes un ...
means of synchronizing electronic instruments; it remains an industry standard. An influential sampling synthesizer, the
Fairlight CMI The Fairlight CMI (short for Computer Musical Instrument) is a digital synthesizer, sampler, and digital audio workstation introduced in 1979 by Fairlight. — with links to some Fairlight history and photos It was based on a commercial lice ...

Fairlight CMI
, was released in 1979, with the ability to record and play back
samples Sample or samples may refer to: Base meaning * Sample (statistics), a subset of a population - Complete data set * Sample (signal), a digital discrete sample of a continuous analog signal * Sample (material), a specimen or small quantity of somet ...
at different pitches. Though its high price made it inaccessible to amateurs, it was adopted by high-profile pop musicians including
Kate Bush Catherine "Kate" Bush (born 30 July 1958) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, dancer and record producer. In 1978, aged 19, she topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks with her debut single "Wuthering Heights (song), Wuthering Hei ...
and
Peter Gabriel Peter Brian Gabriel (born 13 February 1950) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and activist. He rose to fame as the original lead singer of the progressive rock Progressive rock (shortened as prog; also known as clas ...

Peter Gabriel
. The success of the Fairlight drove competition, improving sampling technology and lowering prices; early competing samplers included the
E-mu Emulator The Emulator is a series of digital sampling synthesizers using floppy disk storage, manufactured by E-mu Systems from 1981 until the 1990s. Though not the first commercial sampler, the Emulator was among the first to find wide use among ordina ...

E-mu Emulator
in 1981 and the Akai S-series in 1985. In 1983, Yamaha released the first commercially successful
digital synthesizer performing with a digital synth A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. This in contrast to older analog synthesizers, which produce music using analog electronics, and Sam ...
, the
Yamaha DX7 The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units. In the early 1980s, t ...

Yamaha DX7
. Based on frequency modulation (FM) synthesis developed by
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. Stan ...

Stanford University
engineer
John Chowning John M. Chowning John M. Chowning (; born August 22, 1934 in Salem, New Jersey) is an American composer, musician, discoverer, and professor best known for his work at Stanford University , mottoeng = "The wind of freedom blows" , type = Pri ...
, the DX7 remains one of the bestselling synthesizers in history and was the first synthesizer to sell over 100,000 units. It was widely used in 1980s pop music. Compared to the "warm" and "fuzzy" sounds of analog synthesis, the DX7 was characterized by its "harsh", "glassy" and "chilly" sounds. Digital synthesizers typically contained preset sounds emulating acoustic instruments, with algorithms controlled with menus and buttons. The
Synclavier The Synclavier is an early digital synthesizer performing with a digital synth A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. This in contrast to older analog synthesizers, ...
, a digital synthesizer made with FM technology licensed from Yamaha, offered features such as 16-bit sampling and built-in digital recording. With a starting price of $13,000, its use was limited to universities, studios and wealthy artists. The success of the DX7 led to competing digital synthesizers. The
Roland D-50 The Roland D-50 is a synthesizer produced by Roland and released in April 1987. Its features include subtractive synthesis, on-board effects, a joystick for data manipulation, and an analogue synthesis-styled layout design. The external Roland P ...

Roland D-50
(1987) blended Roland's linear arithmetic algorithm with samples, and was the first mass-produced synthesizer with built-in digital effects such as delay,
reverb Reverberation, in psychoacoustics Psychoacoustics is the branch of psychophysics involving the scientific study of sound perception and audiology—how humans perceive various sounds. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the ps ...
and
chorus Chorus may refer to: Music * Chorus (song) or refrain, line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse * Chorus effect, the perception of similar sounds from multiple sources as a single, richer sound * Chorus form, song in which all verses ...
. In 1988, the Japanese manufacturer
Korg , founded as Keio Electronic Laboratories, is a Japanese multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC) is a corporation, corporate organization that owns and controls the production of goods or services in at least one country other t ...
released the , a digital synthesizer
workstation A workstation is a special computer designed for technical or scientific applications. Intended primarily to be used by one person at a time, they are commonly connected to a local area network A local area network (LAN) is a computer net ...
featuring sampled transients and loops; with over 250,000 units sold, it remains the bestselling synthesizer in history. The advent of digital synthesizers led to a downturn in interest in analog synthesizers.


1990s–present: Software synthesizers and analog revival

1997 saw the release of
ReBirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
by
Propellerhead Software Reason Studios (formerly known as Propellerhead Software) is a music software company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and founded in 1994. It produces the studio emulation Reason. History Propellerhead Software was founded in 1994 by Ernst Natho ...
and Reality by Seer Systems, the first
software synthesizer A software synthesizer, also known as a softsynth or software instrument, is a computer program or plug-in that generates digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal proces ...
s that could be played in real time via MIDI. In 1999, an update to the music software
Cubase Cubase is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by Steinberg for music and MIDI recording, arranging and editing. The first version, which was originally only a MIDI sequencer and ran on the Atari ST computer A computer is a machin ...
allowed users to run software instruments (including synthesizers) as
plug-ins Plug-in, plug in or plugin may refer to: * Plug-in (computing), a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. ** Audio plug-in, adds audio signal processing features * Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle * Plug-in e ...
, triggering a wave of new software instruments. Propellerhead's
Reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with the aim of seeking the truth. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philoso ...
, released in 2000, introduced an array of recognizable virtual studio equipment. The market for patchable and modular synthesizers rebounded in the late 1990s. In the 2000s, older analog synthesizers regained popularity, sometimes selling for much more than their original prices. In the 2010s, new, affordable analog synthesizers were introduced by companies including Moog, Korg,
Arturia Arturia is a French electronics company founded in 1999 and based in Grenoble, France. The company designs and manufactures electronic musical instruments, including software synthesizers, drum machines, analog synthesizers, MIDI controllers, Mus ...
and
Dave Smith Instruments Sequential is an American synthesizer company founded in 1974 as Sequential Circuits by Dave Smith (engineer), Dave Smith. In 1978, Sequential released the Prophet-5, the first programmable Polyphony and monophony in instruments, polyphonic synthe ...
. The renewed interest is credited to the appeal of imperfect "organic" sounds and simpler interfaces, and modern
surface-mount technology File:SMDcompared.jpeg">A MOSFET transistor, placed upon a British postage stamp for size comparison. Surface-mount technology (SMT) is a method in which the electrical components are mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board ...

surface-mount technology
making analog synthesizers cheaper and faster to manufacture.


Impact

Early synthesizers were viewed as
avant-garde The avant-garde (; In 'advance guard' or ' vanguard', literally 'fore-guard') are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society.John Picchione, The New Avant-garde in Italy: Theoretical ...
, valued by the 1960s
psychedelic Psychedelics are a subset of hallucinogenic drugs whose primary effect is to trigger non-ordinary states of consciousness (known as psychedelic experience A psychedelic experience (known colloquially as a trip) is a temporary altered state ...
and counter-cultural scenes for their ability to make new sounds, but with little perceived commercial potential. ''
Switched-On Bach ''Switched-On Bach'' is the first album by the American composer Wendy Carlos Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music Electronic music is music that ...
'' (1968)'','' a bestselling album of
Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the '' Brandenburg Concertos'' and the '' Goldberg Variations'', and for vocal music such as the ' ...

Bach
compositions arranged for Moog synthesizer by
Wendy Carlos Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, November 14, 1939) is an American musician and composer best known for her electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, cir ...
, demonstrated that synthesizers could be more than "random noise machines", taking them to the mainstream. However, debates were held about the appropriateness of synthesizers in
baroque music Baroque music ( or ) is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music, Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical period (music), Classical era, wit ...
, and according to the ''Guardian'' they were quickly abandoned in "serious classical circles". The Moog was adopted by acts including the
Doors A door is a hinge A barrel hinge A hinge is a mechanical bearing that connects two solid objects, typically allowing only a limited angle of rotation between them. Two objects connected by an ideal hinge rotate relative to each other about a ...
, the
Grateful Dead The Grateful Dead was an American rock music, rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of Rock music, rock, Folk music, folk, country music, country, jazz, bluegrass music, ...
, the
Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical ...

Rolling Stones
, the
Beatles The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. Its population in 2019 was approximately , making it the List of Englis ...

Beatles
, and
Keith Emerson Keith may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Keith (singer), an American singer * ''Keith'' (film), an independent film directed by Todd Kessler * '' Keith and The Girl'', an Internet podcast hosted by Keith Malley * Keith (album), 2019 studio ...
. Emerson was the first major rock musician to perform with the Moog and it became a trademark of his performances, helping take his band
Emerson, Lake & Palmer Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) were an English progressive rock Supergroup (music), supergroup formed in London in April 1970. The band consisted of Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (vocals, bass, guitar and producer) and Carl Palmer (drums a ...
to global stardom; according to ''Analog Days'', the likes of Emerson, with his Moog performances, "did for the keyboard what
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...

Jimi Hendrix
did for the guitar". The portable Minimoog (1970), much smaller than the modular synthesizers before it, made synthesizers more common in live performance. The Minimoog took a place in mainstream
black music Black music is music created, produced, or inspired by black people Black people is a Racialization, racialized classification of people, usually a Politics, political and Human skin color, skin color-based category for specific populations ...
, most notably in the work of
Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Wonder is credited as a pioneer and influence by musicians across a range of genres that includ ...

Stevie Wonder
, and in
jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recognize ...
, such as the work of
Sun Ra Le Sony'r Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993), better known as Sun Ra, was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, and poet known for his experimental music, "cosmic" philosophy, prolific out ...

Sun Ra
. It was also used by electronic artists such as
Kraftwerk Kraftwerk (, "power station") is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, it was among the first successful acts to popularize the genre ...

Kraftwerk
, who used it on their albums ''
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'' (1974) and ''
The Man-Machine ''The Man-Machine'' (german: link=no, Die Mensch-Maschine) is the seventh studio album by German electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circuitry-based mu ...
'' (1978)'','' and later by
Tangerine Dream Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circuitry-based music technology in its creation. It includes both music made using el ...
,
Klaus Schulze Klaus Schulze (born 4 August 1947) is a German electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circuitry-based music technology in its creation. It includes both ...
, and
Gary Numan Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known as Gary Numan, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He entered the music industry as the frontman of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releas ...

Gary Numan
. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, the Micromoog was widely used in the emerging
disco Disco is a music genre, genre of dance music and a subculture that emerged in the 1970s in music, 1970s from the United States' urban nightclub, nightlife scene. Its sound is typified by four-on-the-floor (music), four-on-the-floor beats, syncopa ...
genre by artists including ABBA, Abba and Giorgio Moroder. Some acts felt that using synthesizers to create sounds was "cheating"; Queen (band), Queen wrote in their album liner notes that they did not use them. Early synthesizers could Monophonic (synthesizers), only play one note at a time, making them suitable for basslines, leads and solos. With the rise of polyphonic synthesizers in the 70s and 80s, "the keyboard in rock once more started to revert to the background, to be used for fills and atmosphere rather than for soloing".
Sampling Sampling may refer to: *Sampling (signal processing), converting a continuous signal into a discrete signal *Sample (graphics), Sampling (graphics), converting continuous colors into discrete color components *Sampling (music), the reuse of a sound ...
, introduced with the
FairlightFairlight may refer to: In places: * Fairlight, East Sussex, a village east of Hastings in southern England, UK * Fairlight, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, Australia * Fairlight, Saskatchewan, Canada In other uses: * Fairlight (company), an A ...

Fairlight
synthesizer in 1979, has influenced all genres of music and had a major influence on the development of electronic and
hip hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture and art movement that was created by African Americans, Latino Americans and Caribbean Americans in the Bronx, New York City. The origin of the name is often disputed. It is also argued as to whether hip hop sta ...
music. In the 1970s, electronic music composers such as Jean Michel Jarre and Isao Tomita released successful synthesizer-led instrumental albums. This influenced the emergence of synthpop, a subgenre of New wave music, new wave, from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The work of German krautrock bands such as
Kraftwerk Kraftwerk (, "power station") is a German band formed in Düsseldorf in 1970 by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, it was among the first successful acts to popularize the genre ...

Kraftwerk
and
Tangerine Dream Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or electronics, circuitry-based music technology in its creation. It includes both music made using el ...
, British acts such as John Foxx,
Gary Numan Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known as Gary Numan, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He entered the music industry as the frontman of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releas ...

Gary Numan
and David Bowie, African-American acts such as George Clinton (funk musician), George Clinton and Zapp (band), Zapp, and Japanese electronic acts such as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kitaro were influential in the development of the genre.
Gary Numan Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known as Gary Numan, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. He entered the music industry as the frontman of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releas ...

Gary Numan
's 1979 hits "Are 'Friends' Electric?" and "Cars (song), Cars" made heavy use of synthesizers. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, OMD's "Enola Gay (song), Enola Gay" (1980) used distinctive electronic percussion and a synthesized melody. Soft Cell used a synthesized melody on their 1981 hit "Tainted Love#Soft Cell version, Tainted Love". Nick Rhodes, keyboardist of Duran Duran, used various synthesizers including the Roland Jupiter-4 and Roland Jupiter-8, Jupiter-8. Chart hits include Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough (Depeche Mode song), Just Can't Get Enough" (1981), the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" and works by Ultravox. In the 1980s, digital synthesizers were widely used in pop music. The
Yamaha DX7 The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units. In the early 1980s, t ...

Yamaha DX7
, released in 1983, became a pop staple, used on songs by A-ha, Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang. Its "E PIANO 1" preset became particularly famous, especially for Power Ballad, power ballads, and was used by artists including Whitney Houston, Chicago (band), Chicago, Prince (musician), Prince, Phil Collins, Luther Vandross, Billy Ocean, and Celine Dion. The Roland TB-303 (1981), in conjunction with the Roland TR-808 and Roland TR-909, TR-909 drum machines, became a foundation of electronic dance music genres such as House music, house and techno when producers acquired cheap second-hand units later in the decade. Korg M1 presets were widely used in 1990s house music, beginning with Madonna's 1990 single "Vogue (Madonna song), Vogue". Today, the synthesizer is used in nearly every genre of music. It is considered by the authors of ''Analog Days'' "the only innovation that can stand alongside the electric guitar as a great new instrument of the age of electricity ... Both led to new forms of music, and both had massive popular appeal." The authors draw a connection to the synthesizer's origins in 1960s psychedelia to the raves and British "Second Summer of Love, second summer of love" of the 1980s and the club scenes of the 1990s and 2000s. According to ''
Fact A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Science, Scientific ...
'' in 2016, "The synthesizer is as important, and as ubiquitous, in modern music today as the human voice." It is one of the most important instruments in the music industry.


Film and television

Synthesizers are common in film and television soundtracks. ARP synthesizers, for example, were used to create sound effects for the 1977 science fiction films ''Close Encounters of the Third Kind'' and ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'', including the "voice" of the robot R2-D2. In the 70s and 80s, synthesizers were used in the scores for thrillers and horror films including ''A Clockwork Orange (film), A Clockwork Orange'' (1971), ''Apocalypse Now'' (1979), ''The Fog'' (1980) and ''Manhunter (film), Manhunter'' (1986). They were also used to create themes for television shows including ''Knight Rider (1982 TV series), Knight Rider'' (1982)'', Twin Peaks'' (1990) and ''Stranger Things'' (2016).


Jobs

The rise of the synthesizer led to major changes in music industry jobs, comparable to the earlier arrival of Sound film, sound in film, which put live musicians accompanying silent films out of work. With its ability to imitate instruments such as strings and horns, the synthesizer threatened the jobs of session musicians. For a period, the Moog was banned from use in commercial work, a restriction negotiated by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). Robert Moog felt that the AFM had not realized that his instrument had to be studied like any other, and instead imagined that "all the sounds that musicians could make somehow existed in the Moog — all you had to do was push a button that said 'Jascha Heifetz' and out would come the most fantastic violin player". Musician Walter Sear persuaded the AFM that the synthesizer demanded skill, and the category of "synthesizer player" was accepted into the union; however, players were still subject to "suspicion and hostility" for several years. In 1982, following a tour by Barry Manilow using synthesizers instead of an orchestra, the British Musicians' Union (United Kingdom), Musicians' Union attempted to ban synthesizers, attracting controversy. That decade, a few musicians skilled at programming the popular
Yamaha DX7 The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units. In the early 1980s, t ...

Yamaha DX7
found employment creating sounds for other acts.


Sound synthesis

Synthesizers generate audio through various forms of analog synthesizer, analogue and digital synthesizer, digital synthesis. * In
subtractive synthesis Subtractive synthesis is a method of sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its ...
, complex waveforms are generated by oscillators and then shaped with filters to remove or boost specific frequencies. Subtractive synthesis is characterized as "rich" and "warm". *In
additive synthesis Additive synthesis is a sound synthesis technique that creates timbre by adding sine waves together. The timbre of musical instruments can be considered in the light of Fourier series, Fourier theory to consist of multiple harmonic or inharmonic ...

additive synthesis
, a large number of waveforms, usually sine waves, are combined into a composite sound. * In frequency modulation (FM) synthesis, waveforms are modulated with the frequency of other waveforms; the resulting complex waveform can, in turn, be used to modulate another, and this another, and so on. FM synthesis can imitate acoustic sounds such as piano, strings and organs. FM synthesis is characterized as "harsh", "glassy" and "chilly". * Phase distortion synthesis, implemented in Casio CZ synthesizers, is similar to FM synthesis. *In wavetable synthesis, synthesizers modulate smoothly between digital representations of different waveforms, changing the shape and
timbre In music, timbre ( ), also known as tone color or tone quality (from psychoacoustics Psychoacoustics is the branch of psychophysics involving the scientific study of sound perception and audiology—how humans perceive various sounds. More spec ...

timbre
. * In sample-based synthesis, instead of sounds being created by synthesizers,
samples Sample or samples may refer to: Base meaning * Sample (statistics), a subset of a population - Complete data set * Sample (signal), a digital discrete sample of a continuous analog signal * Sample (material), a specimen or small quantity of somet ...
(digital recordings of sounds) are played back and shaped with components such as filters, envelopes and LFOs. * In vector synthesis, pioneered by the Prophet VS, users crossfade between different sound sources using controllers such as joysticks. *In granular synthesis, an audio sample is split into "grains", usually between one hundredth and one tenth of a second in length, which are recombined and played back. *In physical modelling synthesis, a mathematical model of a physical sound source is created.


Components


Oscillators

Electronic oscillator, Oscillators produce waveforms (such as Sawtooth wave, sawtooth, Sine wave, sine, or pulse waves) with different
timbre In music, timbre ( ), also known as tone color or tone quality (from psychoacoustics Psychoacoustics is the branch of psychophysics involving the scientific study of sound perception and audiology—how humans perceive various sounds. More spec ...

timbre
s.


Voltage-controlled amplifiers

Voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs) control the volume or Gain (electronics), gain of the audio signal. VCAs can be modulated by other components, such as LFOs and envelopes. A VCA is a preamp that boosts (amplifies) the electronic signal before passing it on to an external or built-in power amplifier, as well as a means to control its amplitude (volume) using an attenuator (electronics), attenuator. The gain of the VCA is affected by a ''control voltage'' (CV), coming from an envelope generator, an LFO, the keyboard or some other source.


Filters

Voltage-controlled filters (VCFs) "shape" the sound generated by the oscillators in the frequency domain, often under the control of an envelope or LFO. These are essential to subtractive synthesis. Filters are particularly important in
subtractive synthesis Subtractive synthesis is a method of sound In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its ...
, being designed to pass some frequency regions (or "bands") through attenuation, unattenuated while significantly attenuating ("subtracting") others. The low-pass filter is most frequently used, but band-pass filters, band-reject filters and high-pass filters are also sometimes available. The filter may be controlled with a second ADSR envelope. An "envelope modulation" ("env mod") parameter on many synthesizers with filter envelopes determines how much the envelope affects the filter. If turned all the way down, the filter produces a flat sound with no envelope. When turned up the envelope becomes more noticeable, expanding the minimum and maximum range of the filter. The envelope applied on the filter helps the sound designer generating long notes or short notes by moving the parameters up and down such as decay, sustain and finally release. For instance by using a short decay with no sustain, the sound generated is commonly known as a ''stab (music), stab''. Sound designers may prefer shaping the sound with filter instead of volume.


Envelopes

Envelopes control how sounds change over time. They may control parameters such as amplitude (volume), filters (frequencies), or pitch. The most common envelope is the ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) envelope: *Attack is the time taken for initial run-up of level from nil to peak, beginning when the note is triggered. *Decay is the time taken for the subsequent run down from the attack level to the designated sustain level. *Sustain is the level during the main sequence of the sound's duration, until the key is released. *Release is the time taken for the level to decay from the sustain level to zero after the key is released.


Low-frequency oscillators

Low-frequency oscillators (LFOs) produce waveforms used to modulate parameters, such as the pitch of oscillators (producing
vibrato Vibrato (Italian language, Italian, from past participle of "wikt:vibrare, vibrare", to vibrate) is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch (music), pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. V ...

vibrato
).


Arpeggiators

Arpeggiators, included in many synthesizer models, take input Chord (music), chords and convert them into arpeggio, arpeggios. They usually include controls for speed, range and mode (the movement of the arpeggio).


Controllers

Synthesizers are often controlled with electronic or digital
keyboards Keyboard may refer to: Text input * Keyboard, part of a typewriter A typewriter is a machine, mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters similar to those produced by a printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an arr ...

keyboards
or MIDI controller keyboards, which may be built into the synthesizer unit or attached via connections such as CV/gate, USB, or MIDI. Keyboards may offer Keyboard expression, expression such as velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, allowing for more control over the sound. Other controllers include Ribbon controllers, which track the movement of the finger across a touch-sensitive surface; wind controllers, played similarly to woodwind instruments; motion-sensitive controllers similar to video game motion controllers; Electronic drum, electronic drum pads, played similarly to the heads of a drum kit; touchplates, which send signals depending on finger position and force; controllers designed for microtonal tunings; touchscreen devices such as Tablet computer, tablets and smartphones; and fingerpads.


Clones

Synthesizer clones are unlicensed recreations of previous synthesizers, often marketed as affordable versions of famous musical equipment. Clones are available as physical instruments and software. Companies that have sold software clones include
Arturia Arturia is a French electronics company founded in 1999 and based in Grenoble, France. The company designs and manufactures electronic musical instruments, including software synthesizers, drum machines, analog synthesizers, MIDI controllers, Mus ...
and Native Instruments. Behringer manufactures equipment modelled on instruments including the Minimoog, Pro-One, and Roland TB-303, TB-303, and drum machines such as the TR-808. Other synthesizer clones include the MiniMOD (a series of Eurorack modules based on the Minimoog), the Intellijel Atlantis (based on the SH-101), and the x0x Heart (based on the TB-303). Creating clones of older hardware is legal where the patents have expired. In 1997, Mackie lost their lawsuit against Behringer as Copyright law of the United States, copyright law in the United States did not cover their circuit board designs.


See also

;Lists * List of synthesizers * List of synthesizer manufacturers ;Various synthesizers * Guitar synthesizer * Keyboard bass * Keytar * Modular synthesizer * Semi-modular synthesizer * String synthesizer * Wind controller ;Related instruments & technologies * Clavioline (Musitron) * Electronic keyboard * Musical instrument * Music workstation * Sampler (musical instrument), Sampler * Speech synthesis ** Vocaloid ;Components & technologies * Analytic signal * Envelope detector * Low-frequency oscillation *
MIDI File:Synth rack @ Choking Sun Studio.jpg, alt=Several rack-mounted synthesizers that share a single controller, Using MIDI, a single controller (often a musical keyboard, as pictured here) can play multiple electronic instruments, which incre ...

MIDI
;Music genres * Computer music * Electronic music ;Notable works * ''List of compositions for electronic keyboard''


References


Citations


Sources

* * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * *


External links

* b:Sound Synthesis Theory, Sound Synthesis Theory wikibook
Principles of Sound Synthesis
at Salford University
Synthesizer Tutorial
{{DEFAULTSORT:Sound Synthesis Synthesizers, Keyboard instruments Bass (sound) Hip hop production New wave music Rhythm section Electric and electronic keyboard instruments