August 24th, 2010
By Range Producer Aaron Levinson
From their first real introduction in the early 70′s the synthesizer has played a unique role in popular music. From the pioneering work of groups like Can and Kraftwerk on the Krautrock side to the slippery funk of Sly Stone and Stevie Wonder, the synth has had its ups and downs. Some years it’s all over stuff and then for some reason it goes into the musical witness relocation program. I think it is safe to say that today it has come out of hiding again and is back with a vengeance. Like any weapon, it can be used responsibly or it can be misused with tragic consequences for all involved.
In part this rise and fall can be located in what kind of synthesis we are talking about. When they first came into prominence the reigning design model was multi-oscillator analog synthesis with names like Moog and Arp dominating the landscape. Further down the road various other designers and manufacturers got on board and those quirky sounds give way to the dreaded digital synthesis of the 80′s and the emergence of Yamaha and the ubiquitous DX-7. The DX-7 is the kind of beast that can give any instrument a bad rep for years to come. That is exactly what happened. The cheese factor of digital synthesis was so insanely high that it basically broke the cheese-o-meter in half. Read the rest of this entry »