Welcome to Synthesizer World, my personal, evolving site dedicated to the golden age of synthesizers from their early use in popular music in the 1960’s, through their rise in popularity in the 1970’s leading to their new sonic dominance in the 1980’s and beyond. This is very much a personal project. It's not all inclusive of every synth produced (although it's an ever expanding project), but it represents the synths that have influenced me, that I've played, programmed and dreamed of.

My obsession with synthesizers started when I heard Rick Wakeman's "Six Wives of Henry VIII". It was 1973 and the synthesizer was a very recent addition to a keyboard player's arsenal. I was intrigued and excited by the piercing lead sound produced by Rick's Minimoog Model D's so I set about finding out more about these strange instruments. The gatefold of the Album showed Rick surrounded by magical looking keyboards, and perched on top of a couple of mellotrons were the magical Minimoogs. It was in the days way before the convenience of the internet and Google searches, so getting my hands on any information about synthesizers was far from straight forward. I eventually got hold of a clear photo of a Minimoog and, by listening to Rick and looking at the picture, I managed to work out with what transpired to be a great deal accuracy, exactly what effect each knob had on the sound produced by the synth. The first synth I got my hands on and learned to program was an EMS Synthi A, a far less user (or musical) friendly synthesizer than the Minimoog. It was complicated piece of equipment that required a knowledge of signal path routing via a pinboard matrix before even a squeak could be coaxed out of it. The keyboard that it was equipped with was capable of microtonal scales so it had to be calibrated to produce act as a traditionally scaled keyboard. It wasn't conducive to creating spontaneous and blisteringly expressive solos like Rick's but programming the Synthi A taught me valuable lessons about the fundamentals of subtractive synthesis that served me well in my role of synth programmer in the years that followed.

So what is a synthesizer? The dictionary definition of a synthesizer is put simply as “An electronic musical instrument, typically operated by a keyboard, producing a wide variety of sounds by generating and combining signals of different frequencies”. The early synthesizers were cumbersome and often unpredictable machines, more at home in a laboratory, but used to great effect by pioneering electronic music artists like Wendy (originally Walter) Carlos with her ground breaking 1968 album, “Switched-On Bach” created on a Moog modular system.

The introduction of instruments like the legendary Minimoog in 1970 and the Arp Odyssey in 1972 saw the synthesizer emerge from the confines of the studio and out onto the road with keyboard virtuosos like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman taking them centre stage with their lightning fast screaming lead solos.

The synthetic quality of the early analog synthesizer was embraced by bands like Kraftwerk and hit the top of the Disco charts in 1977 with the driving bass line sequencer of the Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer track “I feel love”. British bands like The Human League, Ultravox, OMD and used synthesizers at the heart of their sound, and with Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army 1979 “Are ‘Friends’ Electric”, the sound of the synthesizer hit the mainstream.

As the price of synthesizers became more affordable, the early 1980’s saw the of Synth “pop” dominance in the charts with acts like Depeche Mode, Yazzoo, Soft Cell, Thomas Dolby, the Pet Shop Boys and Howard Jones creating almost purely synthetic backing tracks.

The introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) heralded a new era in electronic music as it gave synthesizers a greater ability to “talk” to each other and to computers. This led to the rise of more sophisticated sequencers capable of driving multiple keyboards and sound modules, giving musicians the capability of producing vast orchestrations without the need for expensive studio time and the ability to reproduce complex arrangements live. This gave rise to genres like Techno and Acid house.

Since those pioneering days the Synth has become an essential part of popular music, often less “up front” but still creating the heart of many a track with their ability to create a multitude of sonic soundscapes. Capable of producing thumping base lines, lush pads and cutting leads, the synthesizer is the powerhouse of modern music with the ability to produce an almost infinite pallete of sounds.

 

Nord Drum 1 Virtual Analog Drum Synthesizer

£250.00
End Date: Wednesday Oct-18-2017 2:02:02 BST
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Rakit Analogue Drum Synthesizer, Kit or Assembled, Boss PC-2 AMDEK PCK-100 clone

£65.00
End Date: Wednesday Oct-11-2017 15:22:10 BST
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Korg Volca FM Digital Synthesizer - Free P&P. Excellent condition.

£100.00
End Date: Thursday Oct-19-2017 20:14:03 BST
Buy It Now for only: £100.00
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Rakit Analogue Drum Synthesizer, Kit or Assembled, Boss PC-2 AMDEK PCK-100 clone

£45.00
End Date: Wednesday Oct-11-2017 15:22:10 BST
Buy It Now for only: £45.00
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Rakit Analogue Drum Synthesizer, Kit or Assembled, Boss PC-2 AMDEK PCK-100 clone

£45.00
End Date: Wednesday Oct-11-2017 15:22:10 BST
Buy It Now for only: £45.00
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Bastl Instruments Kastle Mini Modular Synthesizer (assembled version)

£68.99
End Date: Thursday Oct-19-2017 17:30:50 BST
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Critter & Guitari SEPTAVOX Synthesizer Black

£290.00
End Date: Thursday Oct-19-2017 10:26:48 BST
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Doepfer A-143-1 Complex Quad Envelope Generator/LFO Eurorack Synthesizer Module

£155.00
End Date: Sunday Sep-24-2017 21:52:35 BST
Buy It Now for only: £155.00
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