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The Synthesizer: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing, and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Music Instrument

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A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing, and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Music Instrument

Mark Vail

• Explains the important developments throughout the history of the synthesizer

• Describes how engineers, musicians, and visionaries have advanced its capabilities

• Gives important practical tips on choosing a synthesizer

• Reveals the deep creativity and imagination of those who work with synthesizers

• Thoroughly illustrated with over 350 images

• Includes a companion website

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 2 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 3 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.

Publishing Details
Written by: Mark Vail
About the author:
Building on his life-long interest in music, Mark Vail discovered synthesizers in 1973 and bought his first in 1976. After earning an MFA in electronic music in 1983, he served on the editorial staff at Keyboard magazine from 1988 to 2001. The author of Vintage Synthesizers and The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B, Mark is internationally acknowledged as a foremost authority on synthesizers.
Year Published: 2014
Date Published: 02/14/2014
Format: Hardback, Paperback
Dimensions: 8-1/2 x 11 inches
Pages: 432
Language(s): English
Editions: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN-10: 0195394895
ISBN-13: 978-0195394894
Official Site:

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