Synthesizers today usually work around personal computers but they came in many various forms before its modern model. The earliest examples of synthesizers include the Dynamophone from the late nineteenth century, and the RCA Electronic Synthesizer Mark I, which was released in 1956.
The breakthrough in analog synthesizer technology was made by Robert Moog. His synthesizers produced a wide array of sounds via sine waves, saw waves, square waves, and low-frequency oscillators. Moog’s technology became more available for home consumers with the advent of the Minimoog.
Digital synthesizers came into the music scene in the 1970s and by the 1980s became a key instrument in 1980s pop music. The most ubiquitous model was the Yamaha DX7, which featured a piano-style keyboard and was portable and lightweight compared to its predecessors – though it is still considered heavy compared to today’s modern digital keyboard).
What is a synthesizer?
A synthesizer is an electronic keyboard that can generate or copy virtually any type of sound. It can mimic the sound of a traditional instrument such as the piano or drums, and it can also produce brand new sounds from thunder to the footsteps you make while walking on ice and even the noise of blood cells rummaging through your veins.
Synthesizer is an instrument that puts existing pieces together, mixing new and old sounds to create music in different ways.
What makes synthesizers work?
Traditional synthesizers use electronic oscillators to create sounds. Both digital and analog voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) are used by today’s electronic musicians. Via these oscillators, musicians can produce sounds by additive synthesis where multiple sine waves, square waves, and sawtooth waves are stacked upon one another. It can also create sounds by subtractive synthesis, where a series of filters remove frequencies from these sound waves.
A filter is set to literally filter out certain frequencies of sound, A low-pass filter allows low frequencies to pass through while blocking higher frequencies. A high-pass filter does the opposite. Filters can be set for anywhere along the audio spectrum where it can block one set of frequencies while allowing others to pass through. A filter is an extreme variant of an equalizer effect.
A low-frequency oscillator (LFO) generates electronic signals on the low end of human hearing at around 20 Hz. These devices are useful for producing rhythmic effects like tremolo, which varies the volume of a sound wave. Volume can also be manipulated by envelope filters, which control the attack, decay, sustain and release of an audio signal.
What role do synthesizers play in producing music?
Thanks to keyboard synthesizers from Yamaha, Korg, Roland, and others, electronic musical instruments are often found at major concerts. They are used to produce various sounds once solely reserved for traditional instruments such as drums and guitars.
Massive software libraries the likes of Ableton, Native Instruments, EastWest, Fruity Loops, Logic, and many more have made personal computers into synthesizers for both the studio and the stage.
Many genres of music from house, club, EDM, hip hop, pop to trance utilize synthesizers. Even classical and jazz artists have started using synthesizers although they are still dominated by acoustic instruments.
Synthetic audio has helped define twenty-first-century music and remains a key element within countless genres of music.