a Synthesizer is electronic or electronically steered equipment to the synthesis of oscillations.

most frequently is called Synthesizer a key instrument, which can produce sounds on electronic way. Synthesizer produce thereby the sounds by direct producingand changing electrical oscillations (similar Synthesizer) or by mathematical operations of discrete values (digital Synthesizer). Different kinds of synthesis , also in mixed form, are used. The additives, are common subtraktive, and/or for sound production. FM synthesis, as well as that Physical Modelling and the phase modulation. Similar Synthesizer of the 1970er years is often developed as modular system. The individual components (generators, filter, modulators) are installed and as required by jack plug cables are interconnected in a rack.

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8 Web on the left of [ work on] demarcation in electro-technology for the synthesis of monophoner, highly pure oscillations, as for instance one Sine -, triangle and square wave pulse or the production of needle pulses. Appropriate devices, also as function table admits, serve to the examination of electronic circuits, often from amplifiers. Since it concerns laboratory instruments, these possess usually an extremely low noise anda distortion factor which is because of the border of the measurability.

One calls such generators, which are realized today almost exclusively with digital elements, also digital oscillators.


Synthesizer use different Syntheseprinzipen for the sound production, whereby these similar or digitally to be illustrated. The following basic principles are well-known:


first developments

first developments for synthetic sound production found into the 1930er yearinstead of. Some developments like the Theremin, also Aetherophon mentioned, or the Trautonium aroused a certain attention, became generally accepted however - often because of their play way unusual for musicians - not wide.

1950 produce RCA experimental devices for producingof language and music. The Marks of II music Synthesizer (1958) a piece could show and had for the next again be programmed only after previous complete programming. It was steered over paper tapes.

1958 developed Daphne Oram with BBC Radiophonic Workshop a new Synthesizer, that the so-called. „Oramics “- technology used. The Synthesizer was steered over 35mm-Film. It was used some years with the BBC. Hugh Le Caine, John Hanert, Raymond Scott, Percy Grainger (with Burnett CROSS), and others built different electronic music instruments in the late 1940ern and 1950ern.

Starting from the 1960ern the development of electronics had progressed so far that sounds and tones in real time could be produced, but was these devices due to its size upthe Studiobetrieb limits. These devices were mostly modular developed and the individual components could be verkabelt manually with one another. Many of these first devices were experimental unique pieces.Donald Buchla, Hugh Le Caine, Raymond Scott and Paul Ketoff were the pioneersinto the 1960ern, whereby only Buchla offered commercial equipment.

first commercial Synthesizer (similar to mono phons)

first play and configurable Synthesizer manufactured Robert Moog and presented it 1964 on „the audio engineering Society convention “. It lastedfirst hours to configure to the Synthesizer and he was more a plaything, to 1968 the technology had so far progressed that she could be seriously used. Already during the development it knew the musician Walter Carlo (late Wendy Carlo) for thatInstrument inspire (modular Synthesizer, to hear in the film music to clockwork orange), whose practical experiences with electronic music flowed into the advancement. The new sound, like on the very successful album „Switched on brook “of walter Carlo 1968used, was sensational. Into the late 1960ern appeared now a multiplicity of photographs, which used the new Moog Synthesizer sound.

Moog set at the same time also the standards, which linking different Synthesizer permitted, like z. B. an interface for external controlover logarithmic 1 V/Oktave pitch control. The control of the Synthesizer was normally made by means of a normal keyboard or by a sequencer, with which one could program pitch sequences temporally and which headed for the Synthesizer over the interface mentioned.

the Moog modular system however for the stage and live-employment too largely and too pedantically to serve there was, integrated Moog the most important components of its Synthesizers into a compact housing, that the name Minimoog received and 1970 on thatMarket came. The Minimoog became in the subsequent years a music instrument wide-spread used by many musicians and. In the course of the 1970er years came different further enterprises with Synthesizern on the market and. A. ARP of instrument (by Alan Robert Pearlman), Upper home (of Tom upper home) and Sequential Circuits. All Synthesizer had however two crucial disadvantages: on the one hand they were only mono phons playable, on the other hand were them not durably to be programmed. One could store thus no attitudes.

Specialized neverthelessGroups and musicians such as power station, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, OD star Inc., Klaus Schulze or Vangelis on electronic music and Synthesizer.

electrical organs

all organs (also acoustic) are based on the principle that additivesSynthesis, by several sine sounds zusammgemischt a complex sound devoted. In the original Hammond organ of 1935 the sinus oscillations were produced over wave-driven gear wheels, which induced oscillations in pick-ups. For each harmonious oscillation there was a wheel. The oscillation became laterby electronic circuits produces. The sounds produced by electronic organs were far less modulatable than those the Synthesizer, had however the advantage polyp-hone to be playable.

microprocessor-controlled one polyp-hone similar Synthesizer

most the first Synthesizer was mono phons.Only few were able to produce two tones at the same time as the Moog Sonic Six, the ARP Odyssey, and the EML 101. Genuine Polyphonie was at the time at that time only over the principle of the electricalTo realize organ (Oktavteiler principle). The ARP Omni, the Moog Polymoog and the Opus 3 connected therefore both elements.

Only 1976 came the first genuine polyp-hone Synthesizer on the market, as for instance the Yamaha CS-80 and the upper homes Four Voice.This first Synthesizer was however complex and expensive. The first affordable polyp-hone and besides microprocessor-controlled and thus programmable Synthesizer was 1978 the Prophet-5 von Sequential Circuits. For the first time musicians could their attitudes store and by push of a button again call up.Besides it - compared with the modular systems - was compact and easy.


a small revolution in the development of the Synthesizer was the development of MIDI, a simple digital serial standard interface for Synthesizer. It was developed ofthe companies Roland and Sequential Circuits and 1983 presented. It was established in shortest time as standard industrial interface. Until today she is to be found in nearly unchanged form in each Synthesizer and permits it most diverse electronic devices easilyto interconnect and way.1991 took place with general MIDI (GM) an extension of the standard around the sound allocation. Thus is z. B. to always find an oboe sound at the same program place. It permits so complete music pieces with the correct sound allocationto play over GM-conformal playback units.

digital sound production - revolution I: FM synthesis

a real revolution was arising Synthesizern with digital sound production, first by FM synthesis. The FM synthesis was developed into the 70ern. Briefly said produce with thatFM synthesis digital oscillators (so-called. Operators) sinus oscillations. Complex mathematical interconnecting of the individual sinus oscillations result in complex waveform-shaping. An however position characteristic of the FM synthesis to at that time common subtraktiven synthesis was the possibility of producing particularly overtone-rich and perkussive sounds.

The patent of the FM synthesis became ofJapanese Synthesizerhersteller Yamaha licensed. The first Synthesizer, the GS-1 and GS-2 were not heavy and expensive devices and found a far spreading. 1983 appeared then with the DX7 the Synthesizer, which should revolutionize the entire market. It had the size andthe weight of the Prophet-5 and was affordable in the price for the mass. It was the Synthesizer of the 80's years and one hardly finds a Pop Musikaufnahme from this time, on which no DX7 is to be heard. After running out the patent protection foundthe FM synthesis far spreading, like z. B. into simple 4-Operatoren-Synthesizern on PC sound maps.

Arising the DX7 meant after relatively short time that many subtraktive similar Synthesizer were old fashionable, which meant from of many renowned companies as for instance Moog.

digital sound production - revolution II: Sampling

a second revolution, already the 1979 with the first Fairlight CMI announced itself was the Sampling. With the Sampling natural sounds are digitized. This digital waveform-shaping form then the basis of the sound production.With the Sampler , which so far only the old-fashionable Mellotron remained reserving , „the exact “rendition of natural instruments was somewhat possible.

The first systems, like the Fairlight CMI, the emulator I of E-MU or later also the Synclavier of new England digitalwere extremely expensive devices, which only the “large ones” of the industry were reserved. In addition the technical possibilities of the rendition were first limited due to small dissolution and storage capacity.Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush published 1982 the first photographs on those „gesampelte “soundsto hear are.1985 came with the Mirage von Ensoniq the first Sampler affordable for the broad mass on the market. Sampling coined/shaped already soon the Klangbild of the Popmusik of the 1980er.

Synthesizer and more

1987 brought Roland with the D-50 a Synthesizer on the market, which became very popular particularly due to its integrated effect equipment and the Attacksamples. 1988 drove KORG with the M1 the integration on the point. The M1 represented a new type of Synthesizer,„the workstation “. Here were for the first time a Synthesizer, effect equipment, a Drumcomputer and a Sequencer in equipment integrated. This permitted a providing of complete songs in equipment, without using external hardware. The Korg M1 is after the YamahaDX7 the usually-sold Synthesizer.

Physical Modelling Synthesizer

at the beginning of the 1990er years came the first Synthesizer with a new synthesis method, the Physical Modelling (PM) on the market. With the PM-synthesis tried on the basis mathematical descriptions one „natural “to simulate physical Klangerzeugnung digitally, D. h. one computed like for instance air oscillations in a saxophone behaves or a string of a guitar swings. The principle was not new actually. A practical application came however only into view to development of the Karplus Strong algorithm and its refinement, as well as the Verallgemeinerung of the algorithm into a digitally waveguide synthesis by Julius O. Smith III et al. For a real time computation were efficient digital signal processors (ABC DSP: digitally signal processing) necessarily, like it only endthe 80's were available.

As is the case for the FM synthesis Yamaha secured itself the rights and developed starting from 1989 with the Stanford University together the synthesis. The first commercial Synthesizer was 1994 the Yamaha VL-1. Interestingly enough one tried soonover this beginning the old similar Synthesizer with all its klanglichen inadequacies as virtual-similar Synthesizer digitally again up-arises to leave. Most well-known Synthesizer is here the Clavia north Lead, the ACCESS virus and the Synthesizer of the company Waldorf music.To the digital Synthesizerklängen of the 1980er it came into the 1990ern to one Renaissance of similar Synthesizer and/or. their sounds, in particular by arising the Techno - music. Vormals nearly worthless Synthesizer such as Roland TB-303 rose thereby again substantially in the value.

the modern Synthesizer

nearly all today's Synthesizer are completely digitally developed. They use usually special DSP (digital signal processor) of components for the sound production, whereby frequently different synthesis forms such as FM synthesis, Sampling, subtraktive synthesis etc. at the same time to be used.

Inthe last years some so-called Hybridsynthesizer were developed, which combine DSPs with similar construction units, whereby both a signal path and z digital to the majority. B. at the whale village Q+ (similar filters, otherwise DSP been based) and predominantly similar to developed Sinalweg (DSI Evolver) possibleare. The concept of the hybrid Synthesizer originates from the 1980er years, models like the ESQ1 von Ensoniq combined short Samples or addivtiv produced waveform-shaping with similar filters.

A new trend are so-called native software Synthesizer. Due to the efficiency of modern PCsit is possible to put a digital sound production on on unspezialisierten PC processors. Meanwhile there is different software Synthesizer, which is partially reproductions well-known hardware Synthesizer for each synthesis form. Also well-known old instruments become as for instance Fender Rhodes Pianos or Hammond B3 Organ simulates.

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part of 1: Synthesizer:

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Part 2: Additives synthesis:

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Part 3: Subtraktive synthesis 1:

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Part 4: Subtraktive synthesis 2: (Filters)

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in the following a list of well-known manufacturers, that coined/shaped the development of Synthesizern considerably:


technical related to the Synthesizer is the Vocoder for treatment thathuman voice.


  • Uwe G. Hoenig: Workshop Synthesizer. Sound production for musicians. PPVMEDIEN, mountain churches 2005, 2. Edition, ISBN 3-932275-27-6
  • Peter Forrest: “The A-Z OF Analogue Synthesisers”, Susurreal Publishing, England, ISBN 0-9524377-2-4. Detailed representation of all until 1998ever manufactured similar Synthesizer and organs in two volumes (English)
  • Florian Anwander: Synthesizer. Thus electronic sound production functions. PPVMEDIEN, mountain churches 2005, 3. updated edition, ISBN 3-937841-18-0
  • Thomas Alker: Reason in practice. The stairs in the virtual Musikstudio. PPVMEDIEN, mountain churches2005, 5. updated edition, ISBN 3-937841-21-0

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