by Thomas Henry
There is no doubt that synthesizers have changed the face of music
over the past 30 years. Synthesizers’ initial impact was in the
area of “academic” music, since their almost brutish size,
extreme complexity, and exorbitant cost fairly much confined them to
university settings. But as interested experimenters became more
familiar with the concepts of electronic music, and the linear
integrated circuit revolution kicked into high gear, homebrew
analog synthesizers started to pop up.
And so this versatile instrument made the transition from
“new” music to popular music; there’s hardly a song on the radio
today that doesn’t feature it. But literally, it’s thanks to thousands of
amateurs toiling away in their home workshops and studios that the
electronic music synthesizer was propelled into the mainstream.
Would you like to join in on the fun? Well then, the purpose of this
article is to explain how you can get started in the fascinating field of
electronic music synthesis. As a reader of this magazine, you already
have an interest in and knowledge of electronics. But perhaps the
principles of electronic music circuitry and what it takes to make
a truly useful performance instrument are new to you. This
article will help bridge that gap between technology and art.
January 2006 57