There have been many technological advances during the last hundred years alone. Global society has benefited from one invention after the other, gradually changing the world bit by bit. However, do we ever take a moment to stop and think about what has changed the face of the music world? We are bombarded by music in our everyday lives everywhere we go; be it shopping centers, the radio or even the the boy with his headphones too loud on the tube.
The synthesizer has changed the music we listen to like no other instrument has. Without the synthesizer, there would be no dubstep, drum and bass, garage or David Guetta. The reality of it is that synthesizers are used in most music production, either in digital or analogue forms. Take away the synthesizer and you will eliminate probably around 49 songs off the top 50 chart.
However, were did it all start?
Robert Moog was the brains behind the synthesizer. In the 1960s Moog looked into using electronics and circuit boards as a way of modulating raw wave sound. Walter Carlos (the composer behind the original Tron & Clockwork Orange soundtracks) was the first musician to utilize the moog synth in 1964 with his album ‘Switched on Bach’. After this, the synth was recognized in the music industry as a powerful force to be reckoned with; quickly snowballing in popularity through the music scene.
Artists and the true power of the synthesizer
In the 1970s, artists such as the Monkees, the Stones, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel all wanted a piece of the synthesizer pie. After this, a wide variety of synthesizers had come onto the market; especially aimed at live performance. However, there were a few notable artists over the years which really utilised the synthesizer to change the face of music forever.
Kraftwerk - German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk are known as being one of the biggest influences to contemporary dance music that surrounds us today. Using synths in production and live performance, Kraftwerk used their instruments to create pieces of art which took their listeners deep into an electronic trance.
Brian Eno - Brian Eno was originally one of the members of Roxy Music, but left due to conflicts with Brian Ferry. Eno became monumental in the world of music production as a musician who put ‘theory over practice’; Eno understood the science of music. Eno saw the infinite possibility in being able to design his own instruments through synthesizers and that it never will be a perfect sound.
Chromeo - Chromeo are an example of how contemporary artists are still dedicated to using analogue synths to this day in live performance. Many artists now use digital synths; which are a cheaper and easier alternative.
Korg MS-20 Mini Monophonic Synthesizer
The Korg MS-20 Mini monophonic synthesizer is an example of how a synth can have both analogue and digital functionalities. Artists such as Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, Soulwax are artists to have used the original Korg MS-20; however it is very hard to get your hands on one of these synthesizers anymore so you better snap one up when you it. The Mini Korg provides the very sound as the original but within an analogue/digital environment; and coming at 86% of the original size. This modern classic will be able to hook in old and new fans alike with its features.
The synthesizer is an instrument which is here to stay and will be constantly evolving to accommodate itself to the music around us. Train your ear to determine in songs which is synth and which is authentic instrument; with synth technology evolving as it is, it is becoming harder and harder to differentiate between the two.
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