The Art of a New Technology

Early Synthesizer Sounds

Authored by: Trevor Pinch

The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138780613
eBook ISBN: 9781315770567
Adobe ISBN: 9781317672777


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One of the most difficult issues in studying sound is the fundamental one of how sounds are to be described or represented. In this chapter I address this topic by considering some of the first sounds produced by one of the few new musical instruments of the 20th century to gain popularity—the electronic music synthesizer. Developed by engineer Robert Moog in the period 1964–1968, the first commercially available synthesizers went on to revolutionize popular music, moving from the avant-garde and fringe to become staple parts of musical production, film scoring, TV music, advertising, and the world of digital sound. Indeed, synthesizers today are ubiquitous—every cell phone contains one on a chip.

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