What is a Synthesizer ?
A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that create sounds by generating waveforms.
These sounds may be altered by components such as filters, which cut or boost frequencies; envelopes, which control articulation, or how notes begin and end; and low-frequency oscillators, which modulate parameters such as pitch, volume, or filter characteristics affecting timbre
Wendy Carlos demonstrates her Moog Synthesizer in 1970
How it started?
The first synthesizer was invented at around 1900,
when scientists first started experimenting with electricity.
But its only in the 1960 that the synths started
to take off.
Tom Dissevelt & Kid Baltan – Song of the Second Moon (1957)
Moog synth developed by the American engineer Robert Moog, made it first debut in 1964.
Synthesizer initially viewed as experimental music instrument and valued by the 60s psychedelic and counter-cultural scenes for their ability to make new sounds.
Early Moog Recordings 1964-1969
Switched-On Bach (1968)
While the Moog synthesizer was used in several pop songs in the late 1960s, mostly adding subtle background sounds,
it was this groundbreaking album by Wendy Carlos that brought the Moog synthesizer to the fore as a true musical instrument. Switched-On Bach, released in October 1968, was the best-selling classical album and remained so for many years. It won two GRAMMY awards and remains a standard for innovative use of the early technology.
Young People’s Concert (1969)
Bach-Stokowski ‘Little Fugue’ – New York Philharmonic
Young People’s Concert (1969)
Bach-Stokowski ‘Little Fugue’ – Moog Synthesizer
The Doors – Strange Days(1967)
Formed in 1965, the Doors were one of the biggest of the early American rock bands. They were considered both controversial and influential, mostly due to vocalist Jim Morrison’s lyrics and his mercurial persona on stage.
In 1967, The first year Moog Synthesizer began to appear on commercially available, The Doors produced an album called Strange Days. The Moog Modular was part of the creative process for this album, in a slightly unorthodox manner to modify Morrison’s voice on the title track, as he striking the keyboard as he sang each word.
The Doors – Strange Days
The Monkees – Daily Nightly(1967)
While being recognised as one of the first examples of a created boy band and enormously popular at the time, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees purchased the 19th Moog ever sold and played it on the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.
Paul Beaver, Moog’s representative in California, programmed the “spacey UFO noises” (0:09), which were played by Dolenz
The Monkees – Daily Nightly
The Beatles – Abbey Road(1969)
The Abbey Road recording sessions found the Beatles experimenting in the studio with a brand new instrument: the Moog synthesizer that Harrison purchased with a dual keyboard specially made for him, and represents the last time all four Beatles would appear together in the studio and the only Beatles record to feature the synthesizer.
The Moog synthesizer’s unique electronic sound made it into the final mix of 4 of Abbey Road’s tracks: “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “Here Comes The Sun”, and “Because”.
The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun
Jazz in the Garden – MOMA 1969
The sounds of the Moog synthesizer filled MoMA’s Sculpture Garden during the final event of the 1969 Jazz in the Garden concert series.
This was one of the first times that multiple large modular synthesizers were used in live performance.
On the night of the concert, on August 28, roughly 4,000 people (quadruple the attendance of previous events) jammed into MoMA’s Sculpture Garden, climbing onto sculptures and into trees to get a better view and listen to the “alien” sounds, as described by the press.
This historic concert at MoMA launched the use of the synthesizer as a live performance instrument
Discover more synth music from the 60s and before..