Technology has changed our way of life, music included. It has made the creation of musical rhythms simpler and much quicker. Tinkerers and electronic pioneers generated synthesizers, an electronic musical instrument that evolved the music industry.
The instrument itself has changed much since its invention. In this article, we’ll discuss a brief history of the synthesizer instrument, plus some famous songs that incorporated it. Before we delve in, let’s look at what synthesizers really are.
What Are Synthesizers?
Generally, a synthesizer is an instrument that generates tones that you can control and alter by input. The equipment will synthesize the sounds of other instruments like guitars or pianos to get a more experimental sound. A synthesizer operates with a sequencer, controllable fingerboards, piano-like keyboards, and electronic drums together with a guitar synthesizer.
These components combine to create a musical tone responsible for some of the famous songs we love today. They’re also used in movie soundtracks and have made their mark in other genres too.
History of Synthesizers
The first synths to develop the first synthesizer were Herbert Berlar and Harry Olson in 1955 at a Radio Corporation of America Laboratory in New Jersey. They fed some information to a synthesizer connected to a paper punch tape. It was invented for the purposes of research regarding sound properties.
The invention went on to attract composers who wanted to extend their range of sound and gain total control of their music. In the 1960s, more synthesizers were created with compact designs and had a piano-like keyboard and other performing mechanisms. A good example was the Moog III, invented by Robert Moog.
It consists of two-five octave keyboards that control voltage changes. One was able to create pitch, attack, timbre, and decay tones, among other aspects of sound, which gave composers a variety of musical tones. It formed the basis of other creations moving forward.
Using Moog III as his basis, Donald Buchla invented the Buchla synthesizer that was activated by touch mode-sensitive keyboards. It was somewhat similar to the fingerboard of a violin. The synthesizer used subtractive methods to remove unwanted components from signals from important tones.
Another excellent type was invented by James Beauchamp, which had a harmonic tone generator. It uses additive synthesis that basically builds tones to form pure tones without sine wave signals and various advantages as opposed to the previous ones.
More and more synthesizers with compact designs were invented in the 70s and 80s, with microcomputers and various synthesis techniques. They included; sampling techniques, Fourier synthesis, and FM synthesis with sine waves.
The synthesizer that was invented in the 80s took the digital form. They were way different from the analog ones as they used emulated analog sounds with digital signals. These digital instruments were, however, not as thick, vintage, and warm as their analog counterparts.
The good thing about them is that they were cheaper to produce and were seminal digital models. Moreover, they sprew up new wave music that used digital synthesizers. Some of the best albums, like Duran Duran or Talking Heads, incorporated these instruments.
Analog purists were, however, not convinced by the new invention. They described and compared the two synthesizers as fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. They say analog synthesizers attain their sound from special characteristics of analog devices.
The purists continued to say their analog devices can distort the sound wave into a more warm and pleasant form, which can’t be said for the digital synthesizers.
Old is Gold
Digital synthesizers have changed the musical game, and that can’t be said enough. However, analog devices have recently had somewhat of a revival. You can say they’re getting their groove back on as they were fed up with what sterile and cold sound of digital synthesizers,
More and more composers and hobbyists started buying obsolete analog buttons. It made their price skyrocket in the 2000s as the old synthesizers became popular. Analog purists like Roland started releasing modular synthesizers while others made a remake of the old synths.
It definitely met modern buyers’ demand for synths with pitch stability, with no unintentional distortion. The revival can also be attributed to the backlash digital synthesizers received from produced music. It has also been driven by artists who desire the most authentic sound.
Some Famous Songs that Used Synths
Whether digital or analog synthesizers, they’ve made their mark in the music industry. With composers incorporating them into their work. Here’s a list of famous songs that had synthesizers in them.
The song is not as popular as the rest on this list, but it uses major synth riffs on it. They’re also great on the piano.
It’s a Sin by Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys are iconic synth bands. They’ve not shied away from using synthesizers in their songs. The synth in ‘it’s a sin’ is well orchestrated and carries the whole song. If you wish to learn how to play the synthesizer, this song works fine.
The synthesizer tone on Midnight City is catchy, allowing you to listen to the song repeatedly. Its chorus is a whole synth which is impressive. Overall, the synth in the song makes it beautiful.
This is certainly one of the most iconic songs that uses synthesizers to date. It’s pretty much because you’ll notice the synths right at the very instance you start listening to the song. If you’ve ever been to any sporting event, then you definitely must have heard this song. The riff carries the song throughout its entirety.
The synthesizer instrument has made composers and musicians alike have a wide range of musical tones. They’re able to create beautiful songs with unique songs. How did the instrument come about? The brief history above allows you to understand better how these incredible instruments came to be.
More and more inventions are still being created around this instrument. Let’s wait and see what they have to offer.