Reference Entry

Synthesizer

Kyle Devine

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print November 2013 |
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2258246

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Electronic musical device or software program used to generate and combine audio signals, using either analog or digital processes.

Analog sound synthesis is typically achieved through the electronic filtration of a harmonically rich sound source (i.e., subtractive synthesis). Although precedents date back to some of the earliest electronic instruments, more direct forerunners to the modern analog synthesizer include Hugh Le Caine’s electronic sackbut (1945), Harold Bode’s Melochord (1947), and Raymond Scott’s Clavivox (1952). Better known was the RCA electronic music synthesizer (1950s). Machines like these were large, specialized studio tools, and featured predominantly in the musical avant garde, as well as in some radio and television broadcasting, and certain film soundtracks. During the 1960s, composers and experimenters began searching for ways to achieve the sounds of electronic music in the context of a live performance. This led to the introduction of modular units by ...

Reference Entry.  676 words. 

Subjects: Music

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