2 To Think about instrument vs. system automation, performing with electrons how did these devices change the role of the performer? composer? engineer? in what ways did analog synthesizers influence the language, metaphors, and interfaces of our current digital systems?
3 SYNTHESIZER HISTORY (REVIEW) 1897 Telharmonium (Thaddeus Cahill) 1919 Theremin (Leon Theremin) 1928 Ondes Martenot (Maurice Martenot) 1930 Trautonium (Trautwein) 1935 Hammond Organ (Laurens Hammond) 1945 Electronic Sackbut (Hugh Le Caine) 1956 RCA Mark I & II (Olson and Belar)
4 Types of Synthesis Additive Synthesis Combines sine waves to make more complex waveforms. Subtractive Synthesis Removes some aspect of a sound through filtering. Modulation - Amplitude Modulation --> Tremolo - Frequency Modulation --> Vibrato
5 Donald Buchla West Coast Robert Moog East Coast In 1964, Buchla, an engineer with a musical background, was approached by the San Francisco Tape Music Center to build a customized synthesizer for their studio. The Buchla 100 used voltage control and featured the first sequencer. Instead of a keyboard, it had programmable metal plates. Moog studied physics and electrical engineering, putting himself through school by selling theremins he built. In 1964, Moog began experimenting with voltage-controlled oscillators, eventually completing an early synthesizer with keyboard control; his first synthesizer was sold in 1965.
6 Moog and Buchla created the first commercially available voltage-controlled synthesizers. The modular design allowed each unit to be custom made and reconfigurable.
7 Voltage Control Voltage control allows for the automation of synthesis parameters. Instead of changing a parameter by hand, one signal can be used to control another. An oscillator producing a sine wave, for example, could be used to control the cut-off of a filter, the volume, or the frequency of another oscillator. Buchla 200
8 Modules Independent modules connected by patch cables Moog developed general standards for synthesizer voltages including logarithmic 1-volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signals Modules typically run on 5 volts, so that an oscillator s lowest pitch would be at 0 and highest at 5V, the lowest volume 0 and the loudest 5, etc. Generally (at least initially) monophonic MOOG MODULAR
9 EMS Moog 4 Companies Arp Buchla
10 Synthesizer Functions 1. Sources: produce or generate a signal Oscillators, noise generators, input sounds 2. Processors: modify a signal Filters, envelope generators (ADSR), effects. 3. Controllers: control the behavior of another function (module) Physical input devices: keyboard, joystick, pedal Automated controls: sequencer, LFO
11 SOURCES OSCILLATORS (VCO) sine pulse triangle sawtooth NOISE GENERATORS Often the simplest module on the machine. There may be a choice of white or pink noise, or even a species of low frequency noise for random control voltages.
12 FILTERS signal processing module, Voltage-controlled filter (VCF) much of the timbral flexibility of a synthesizer comes from the filters Boost or cut the amplitude of spectral components Common varieties: low pass (LPF), high pass (HPF), band pass (BP), notch Q characterizes a resonator's bandwidth relative to its center frequency. Higher the Q, narrower the filter
13 ENVELOPES An envelope generator produces a control voltage that rises and falls once, according to a voltage command. The output rises to full on (ATTACK) and then falls over some time (DECAY) to an intermediate value (SUSTAIN) remains there before continuing to zero (RELEASE), often when the key is released. ADSR design built by Moog at request of Ussachavesky
14 SWITCHED-ON BACH Performed by Wendy Carlos on a Monophonic Synthesizer! Recorded on an 8-track tape recorder custom-built by Carlos. One of the first classical albums to go platinum Won Three Grammy awards Brought the sound of the Moog synthesizer to the masses.
15 WENDY CARLOS Masters in Music Composition at Columbia, with Ussachevsky Met Robert Moog in New York and became one of his first customers, providing feedback for the development of the Moog Synthesizer. Sonic Seasonings is a double album of original music dedicated to the four seasons, with each season taking one entire side. It blended recorded sounds with the synthesizer. The long, atmospheric tracks were predecessors of ambient music. Winter
16 FILM SCORES BY WENDY CARLOS
18 The San Francisco Tape Music Center was formed as a cooperative studio in 1962, pooling together tape-composition resources of composers from the San Francisco Conservatory: Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, Ramon Sender, & Terry Riley (who would use tape loops as an inspiration for minimalism) among others
19 Morton Subotnick Silver Apples of the Moon (1967) created entirely with the Buchla 100 Synthesizer that he helped develop with Donald Buchla.
21 A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur (1978)
22 The In Sound from Way Out (1966) Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley Vanguard Records set up a laboratory in New York for the Perrey-Kingsley experiments. Kingsley was a staff arranger there, and Perrey had been experimenting with tape loops, which he had been introduced to by Pierre Schaeffer. They used several synchronized tape recorders, with an 18-track mixing board to combine early electronic musical instruments (Ondioline, Martenot Waves, etc.), and electronic sounds from oscillator with sounds from natural and acoustic instruments, and a Moog Modular. Their philosophy: The future is upon us, and the future is fun. "To take the mystery out of the legend that says electronic music is an art that is esoteric, exclusively-reserved for a few initiates, an elite of avant-garde intellectuals and artists." One Note Samba - exploration of timbre as main compositional element.
23 Notes from In Sound from Way Out (1966) Here are a dozen electronic pop tunes. They are the electrifying good-time music of the coming age, the switched-on dance music that will soon be it. This is the lively answer to the question that puzzles and who knows, even frightens people who have heard the serious electronic compositions of recent years and wonder, is this the music of the future? As for that avant-garde wing, we say more power to it. But there are other things in the future, such as pleasure. And so presented here is the electronic "Au Go Go" that might be heard soon from the juke boxes at the interplanetary way stations where space ships make their rest stops. The idiom is strange and yet familiar; here a touch of rock, there a touch of bosa nova, a whiff of the blues in one piece and a whiff of Tchaikowsky in another. But these atoms of pop music are exploded into fresh patterns. They outline a strange new sound world. Computer in Love
24 ISAO TOMITA Like Carlos, built a career on covering classical works on monophonic synthesizers. Pioneer of Space Synth Music 4 Grammy nominations for his album Snowflakes are Dancing, 1974 Played a Moog III modular synthesizer His sounds are often emulated in synth presets
25 ARP 2600 Fixed arrangement of modules... a transition towards portable forms. had more stable oscillators that solved the pitch-drifting problem plaguing earlier synths. Dominated the synth market in 1970 ARPS were made popular by Herbie Hancock, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, Orbital, Joe Zawinul, Depeche Mode, David Bowie, 808 State and many others. Movie director Steven Spielberg used the ARP 2500 in his film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), while the ARP 2600 was the voice of R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies.
26 Minimoog (1970) The first pre-patched, portable performance synthesizer. Featured pitch bend and vibrato wheels (modulation wheels), which are now standard on all digital synthesizers. popular and affordable ($1500) - sold 13,000 units. the analog circuits were largely the same, but switches replaced patch points in a simplified arrangement called "normalization" Made famous by Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP), first to tour with the instrument. Later used by groups such as Yes, Kraftwerk, Devo, Bob Marley, George Clinton, Chuck Corea and Pink Floyd.
29 Keith Emerson In designing the minimoog, Bob Moog worked with virtuoso keyboardist Keith Emerson. Emerson played in the band Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) and gladly swapped his modular touring rig for the portability of the Minimoog. ELP also covered a few classical tunes...
31 Prophet 5 First readily available (almost affordable) polyphonic synthesizer Used by Kraftwerk, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Thomas Dolby, New Order, Prodigy, INXS, Jean-Michel Jarre, Pink Floyd, the Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys, Vangelis, filmmaker/composer John Carpenter