Electronic music instruments weren't called synthesizers until the 1950s, but their lineage began in 1919 with Russian inventor Lev Sergeyevich Termen's development of the Etherphone, what we now know of as the Theremin. The past century has seen remarkable developments in synthesizers, documented in the first chapter of this book by a historical look at the most important instruments and how they advanced methods of a musician's control, of sound generation, of improved capabilities for live performance, of interfaces that improved the musician's interaction with the instrument, and of groundbreaking ways to compose music. Chapter two covers the basics of acoustics and synthesis, including descriptions of individual synthesizer components and how they affect the generation of sound and the production of music. Today's synthesizer industry covers a vast range of devices, from affordable to expensive workstations, from analog to digital to hybrid forms of sound generation, from the expanding universe of software instruments to the vigorously revived world of modular synthesizers, from state-of-the-art all-digital instruments to those that function directly with analog machines of the past, and from synthesizers and controllers sporting traditional interfaces such as the organ- or piano-style keyboard to those that appeal to musicians in search of novel approaches to making music. Chapter three addresses many of the valuable considerations to make when shopping for synthesizers. The final two chapters outline strategies noted and successful synthesists use to program, compose and perform with, and record the ultimate electronic music instrument.
"Synthesizers are wonderful musical instruments that cover a very wide range of implementations and uses. Mark Vail's The Synthesizer is a must-read for anyone who has interest in learning about these engineering marvels. It is a great introduction if you are new to synths, but also very informative and up-to-date for the seasoned synth player." --Dave Smith, Dave Smith Instruments "A hugely detailed, exhaustively researched and splendidly idiosyncratic work which nails its extensive subject matter. Mark Vail enthusiastically charts the development of the synthesizer from the Trautonium to the latest software instruments, and also gives us valuable insights and tips from leading electronic composers, including legendary synth pioneer Wendy Carlos." --Dave Stewart, Keyboardist "In the past few decades, the synthesizer has finally come of age. Mark Vail's extensive work documents this journey from its austere and rarified beginnings to its present technologically sophisticated state. His well-illustrated book is filled with anecdotes and insights, amazing successes and ridiculous flops, expert advice on how to roll your own, lots of commentary on artists, their gear and their methodology, and finally, a guide to recording and disseminating your own musical masterpieces. Stash this volume where it's easy to get to; you'll be using it a lot." --Don Buchla, Composer and Instrument Designer, Berkeley, California "Mark Vail is the best explainer and historian of music synthesizers that I know. I highly recommend this book, which is a whole lot of fun to read." --Roger Linn
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: 19th February 2014
Dimensions (cm): 27.9 x 21.6 x 2.86
Weight (kg): 0.92