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The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:52 pm
by JDK
Hello everyone, this is my first post on this forum.
I found this forum because I was looking for more information about synthesizers.
I study music and for my last year in high school I have to make a paper (of roughly 20 pages) about a certain subject within music.
I chose the "The history and evolution of electronic music".
(EDIT: just to clarify, I produce music in software, so I have used synths before)

Since there are a lot of passionate and experienced people on this forum, I thought It would a good idea to ask some questions here. So here we go!

The most influential electronic instruments of all time?
I'm talking about stuff like the Minimoog, DX7, TR-808,...
Instruments that changed the way we make music and were (or still are) essential for musicians.
But I'm wondering if there are other famous electronic instruments that people should know about.
Every suggestion, from every time period is welcome. Digital VST instruments are welcome too.

Influential artists?
A similar question, but for influential and popular artists

If there's anything else you can think of that might be useful to me, feel free to tell me!

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:14 pm
by gcoudert
It depends on whether you define ‘electronic music’ as ‘any music made with electronic instruments’ or whether you are referring to the genre(s) referred to as ‘electronic music’.

Sampling with the Fairlight CMI, Emulator, etc.
Mellotron / Chamberlin and other tape-based instruments
Theremin (important but maybe not influential as such)
Hammond organs (B3, C3)
MIDI (not an instrument but its invention marked a turning point in the industry)
Early sequencers

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:14 pm
by ItsMeOnly
You do realize that there's even a documentary about that? We can't all do the homework for you...

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:01 pm
by JDK
thank you gcoudert for the suggestions.
Because electronic is very broad topic and I can't cover it all in 20 pages, I have to draw a line somewhere. I'll be discussing the instruments that generate sound without the help of anything mechanical or acoustic. (so no organs, no electric piano's or anything with magnetic pickups. Just electronic instruments that can generate a sound all on their own by generating an electric signal. I'm not sure if I'm going to discuss tape-based instruments, because they don't generate the sound itself.)
I'll also be talking about the artists who used these instruments.

I didn't know there was a documentary about that, what's the title of that documentary?
I've done a lot of research already, and that's what makes it hard: there's so much and I have to be selective.
I just want to make sure that I don't miss anything important, and that's why I asked these questions here.

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:40 pm
by ItsMeOnly
The documentary was The Instruments that Changed the Music Forever, unfortunately I can't find the complete release data (it seems to have been pulled off Youtube as well)

Anyway, the general consensus is, in order of appearance: Hammond B-3 organ, EMS VCS3/Synthi (arguably the first truly portable synth), Moog Modular, Minimoog (the first "accessible" synth), Yamaha CS-80 (the first polysynth), SCI Prophet 5 (THE polysynth), Fairlight CMI (the all-in-one workstation with sampling capabilities), Yamaha DX7 (the first affordable digital polysynth), EMU Emulator/II (the sampler everybody needed), TB-303 (THE bass machine), Ensoniq Mirage (the sampler for the masses), NED Synclavier Studio System (with capabilities limited only by your wealth), Roland TR drum machines, Linn Drum, Roland D-50 (the one with effects), Korg M1 (the workstation for the masses), AKAI S1000 (the sampler everybody had), Yamaha VL-1 (the synthesizer that started the "virtual" revolution), Roland JP-8000 (The one that added analog to virtual).

Arguably worth mentioning: ARP Odyssey, Korg MS and followups, PPG Wave, Yamaha GX-1 (The literally white crow), Roland Jupiter series (especially JP-6, the first analog synthesizer to have MIDI as standard), TX81Z (yes, THAT bass and that organ) and Korg Wavestation and 01W.

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:17 pm
by JDK
Wow! Thank you so much!
This was exactly what I was looking for.

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:14 am
by Kenneth
For influential artists, check out Pierre Schafer's pioneering work in "Musique Concréte", a style of proto-ambient music that focused primarily on using tape splices to create sound collages which were often very unsettling, otherworldly pieces that would have fit nicely into movies like Nosferatu or other early horror. Wendy Carlos' "Switched-on Bach" came out in 1968 I think, and that was probably the first electronic recording that got any kind of mainstream attention. Then in the 70s we got Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", Tangerine Dream's "Phaedra", plus a bunch of other really influential artists you should check out like Yellow Magic Orchestra, Suzanne Ciani, Jean Michel Jarre, Morton Subotnick, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The 80s brought us synthpop: Depeche Mode's "Speak and Spell", Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's self-titled album, as well as their "Organisation" album that followed are great examples of the genre. email me if you need more help, as I did a similar research project when I was in school myself: kennybressler@gmail.com

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:05 pm
by JDK
ItsOnlyMe, was the Yamaha CS-80 really the first polyphonic synth?
I found that there are other polyphonic instruments that were released earlier, like the Polymoog and EMU modulars.
Is it because they used different ways to get polyphony? Like octave dividers or voice allocation?
What did the CS-80 do different then these others ones?

Re: The most influential electronic instruments of all time?

Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:39 pm
by meatballfulton
The CS-80 was the first self contained synth to have fully articulated voices and not use divide down oscillators.