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The 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music

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  • published
    28 Feb 2014
  • words by
    John Twells
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The 14 Synthesizers That Shaped Modern Music

In 2014 the synthesizer is as important, and as ubiquitous, in modern music as the human voice.

The concept is simple enough – a basic circuit generates a tone, and the tone can then be controlled by some sort of input, human or otherwise. It’s a concept that has provided the backbone for countless instruments over the last 100-or-so years, and like it or not, has informed the direction of modern music both in the mainstream and in the underground.

These days it’s easy enough to boot up your cracked copy of Ableton Live or Logic and open any number of VST synthesizers, giving you access to decades of technological innovation. It is however important to know how these sounds took hold in the first place, and why they were so successful. Sometimes it was simply the fact that there was no competition (the Minimoog) and sometimes the success was simply down to price and availability (the MS-20).

The following list contains a few of the key instruments that helped shape electronic music, from the obvious (the unmistakable Roland TB-303) to the obscure (the humble Alpha Juno 2). You might be surprised how many of them lie at the center of your favorite tracks.

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