Description of a Synthesizer

by Johnny Kilhefner Google
The synthesizer is a versatile instrument that continues to influence modern music.

The synthesizer is a versatile instrument that continues to influence modern music.

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In 1949, Minao Shibata predicted that a musical instrumental capable of playing any kind of sound would change music forever. He was right. The first commercial synthesizer, invented by Robert Moog, was featured prominently throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s by artists and groups such as The Monkees, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Doors. Synthesizers continue to influence a new generation of musicians in all sorts of music genres.

What it Does

The novelty of a synthesizer is that it can recreate the sound of virtually any instrument. If you want to play a trumpet but don't have the chops for it, pick up a synthesizer, and those high notes you dreamed of will be much easier to play. Synthesizers also have pitch-bending properties, which allow you to manipulate notes, similar to a guitarist bending the strings of his instrument.

Analog Synthesizers

Original synthesizers were only used in a finite box of hardware. Such synthesizers are still used today, and use piano keys to play the different sounds and notes of a wide variety of instruments. Because of their piano-like interface, hardware synthesizers are commonly referred to as "keyboards."

Digital Synthesizers

Modern synthesizers are available as downloadable programs to run on your computer, smart phone or tablet. These synthesizers work in a similar fashion to hardware synthesizers, but they are controlled by musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) keyboards hooked up via USB, or by touchscreen. The potential of digital synthesizers is infinite because you can download new and improved sound kits, allowing you to tweak the sound in virtually any way possible.


Synthesizer workstations enable you to create, produce and record music. The timbre, resonance, intensity and release of each note can be controlled to create new and unusual sounds, which can then be tweaked by frequency with added effects and recorded in multiple tracks.

About the Author

Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.

Photo Credits

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