If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ...

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If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ...

Post by KBD_TRACKER » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:07 pm

do you think hardware synths would have occured ?
meaning, do you think hardware like moogs, arps, junos, etc. would have been born ???
in fact still supposing that software synths had come first, do you think that being confronted latter to such hardware as a moog or virus, etc. YOU would have been interested ?

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by rhino » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:22 pm

Interesting question.

1. Since most VSs are computer models of hardware, it would have been hard to replicate something that did not yet exist. Such early soft-synths would most likely have evolved very differently than hardware synths. Probably alung the lines of samplers, FM, additive and granular.

2. If these early soft-synths were limited by the problems of early computers: lock-ups, crashes, slow speed, storage problems... Live performers would have welcomed hardware instruments that would be (more) reliable on stage/tour.
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by CS_TBL » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:38 pm

It's an unrealistic scenario. Technology evolves from big/bulky/(semi-)mechanical to tiny devices with one or two chips inside. It would be identical to "would people have invented the Enigma during the war if they'd had a $300 netbook and an open source compiler?".

Besides, I think this development so far has only resulted in a shift of business models. In the early years, companies ruled the waves by making the designs, limiting the potential functionality to have something left to sell next, etc. What you see now is that we can get everything we want, with all the polyphony we ever need, we are in charge. That's how development goes, from expensive, big 'n bulky, and controlled by the industry, to custom (efficiently priced) components, picked and assembled by customers.

But that's all, really. Yesteryear we had analogue, FM, and sampling playback, knobs 'n faders. We still have that today (yes yes, virtual analogue, yes yes). It's just a lot cheaper and bigger.

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by Solderman » Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:53 pm

It's all math innit? Purely hypothetically, the only way I see this could have happened is if no one bothered to pay attention to pre-1960's electronic music until computers had matured enough to handle reproducing it. Then it likely wouldn't be synthesis in its original meaning: Bringing different modules together to form a single voice. At least not at first.

I'd bet there would still have been lots of stuff done with tape, using the studio as an instrument, in the meantime.
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by RD9 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:08 pm

Actually, if you think about it, computing was invented, theorized, and practiced way before the creation of modern day computers and software. For example, people like Alan Turing were thinking way ahead of their time. So in some ways, it is somewhat theoretically conceivable that electronic musicmaking could have evolved without analog hardware synthesis. All you (theoretically) need to get started is the concept of harmonics, which dates as far back as ancient Greece/Pythagoras.

BUT as rhino said, so much software is based on analog synthesis and the most fundamental foundations of electronic music such as subtractive synthesis may not have evolved into what you know today had people like Bob Moog or Vladimir Ussachevsky been theoretical scientists instead of hands-on practitioners. From what I've read and seen, it seems like a lot of it was developed and inspired by the current technology available at the time, and a lot of what first inspired the pioneers are still being used today, whether in real electronics, or just in software interfaces. So, in that sense, no, it's impossible to think of electronic music without hardware synths.

If analog/hardware synths didn't exist at all, it would be a totally different world and for starters, none of the software you use would even have knobs. Software might look more like a Poly-800 interface using mainly buttons to control parameters. And it would probably function like a DX7 (additive synthesis).

Heck, even Ableton Live would look totally different if it weren't for the use of hardware knobs in electronic music. I bet all the controls would be buttons and sliders. And you can forget about Acid ever existing. I think that entire genre of music owes a lot to analog synthesis just because of the 303 sound. I mean, can you imagine techno if the 303 never existed and everyone used the DX7 sound engine instead?

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by CS_TBL » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:26 pm

RD9 wrote:If analog/hardware synths didn't exist at all, it would be a totally different world and for starters, none of the software you use would even have knobs. Software might look more like a Poly-800 interface using mainly buttons to control parameters. And it would probably function like a DX7 (additive synthesis).
I'm not so sure about that. Look at Photoshop plugins, there're knobs 'n faders there too. It's not like knobs 'n faders are exclusive to hardware synths. Just anyone who wants to control anything may choose a device that features a 1-dimensional motion. I mean, heck, even your microwave has a knob to set the time and another to set the intensity. Does that microwave owe its knobs to Robert Moog? :P

I rather think the difference is like this: if we'd have started out with sophisticated computers (e.g. with touch screen), then envelopes wouldn't be ADSR envelopes but segment envelopes, or heck maybe even envelopes with maximum precision (like an audio signal). For the simple reason that we'd be able to see the envelope and have the tools to draw an envelope like that. For performance controlling people would pinpoint one of the 'nodes' in that envelope and link it to a knob or fader upon which that node influences its direct neighbors and environment.

Another difference would be - I think - that for a lot of functionality we'd have XY control pads instead of 1-dimensional knobs.
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by Scories » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:38 pm

CS_TBL wrote:It's not like knobs 'n faders are exclusive to hardware synths. Just anyone who wants to control anything may choose a device that features a 1-dimensional motion. I mean, heck, even your microwave has a knob to set the time and another to set the intensity. Does that microwave owe its knobs to Robert Moog? :P
I always thought that the ancestor of the analog monosynth was the washing machine because both have big knobs and deliver nice sounds!

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by nathanscribe » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:42 pm

Scories wrote:I always thought that the ancestor of the analog monosynth was the washing machine because both have big knobs and deliver nice sounds!
Clearly you don't have to listen to my upstairs neighbours' washing machine.

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by Scories » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:47 pm

nathanscribe wrote:
Scories wrote:I always thought that the ancestor of the analog monosynth was the washing machine because both have big knobs and deliver nice sounds!
Clearly you don't have to listen to my upstairs neighbours' washing machine.
Just visit your neighbour, sample it and spend a few days to extract all the musical goodness out of it; you'll be greatly rewarded. :D

Oups, I think I've hijacked the thread agaon. :oops:

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by Yoozer » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:58 pm

says it all ;)
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by RD9 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:59 pm

CS_TBL wrote:
RD9 wrote:If analog/hardware synths didn't exist at all, it would be a totally different world and for starters, none of the software you use would even have knobs. Software might look more like a Poly-800 interface using mainly buttons to control parameters. And it would probably function like a DX7 (additive synthesis).
I'm not so sure about that. Look at Photoshop plugins, there're knobs 'n faders there too. It's not like knobs 'n faders are exclusive to hardware synths. Just anyone who wants to control anything may choose a device that features a 1-dimensional motion. I mean, heck, even your microwave has a knob to set the time and another to set the intensity. Does that microwave owe its knobs to Robert Moog? :P
Haha don't take me too literally. Obviously there are knobs in many software apps, not just music. :D Good point about Photoshop plug-ins, but it's not as often you will see a knob over a slider. Buttons and sliders are still the primary GUI choices I think. But anyway I was referring specifically to analog DJ mixers by the Ableton reference. Sorry, didn't mean synths only. I'm pretty sure the Ableton folks would not have used knobs as much if it weren't for DJ/audio hardware predecessors. They're trying to make a connection by making some of the GUI relatable to hardware.

Anyhoo, programming knob behavior on GUIs is extra work and people only do them if it's really worth doing. You'll see them most often on interfaces that try to make a connection with some kind of hardware knob. It's not as often that people would program a software knob out of pure necessity, although it does happen every now and then for lack-of-space reasons. People also use them (in software) just to make things look cooler.

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by gs » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:48 am

"Knobs" and knob-like behavior on a software interface is irrelevant and completely unnecessary. If you cannot grasp it with your fingertips and twirl it, it's downright stupid. It makes mouse movements twice as hard and glitchy. As was said, it only makes sense for replicating the look of real hardware to make a mental connection, or to save space in the application window.
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by griffin avid » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:49 am

I'm going to take a stab and say that they wouldn't be as good. When computers tackle music on their own, you get 8-bit chip tunes. When they aspired to sound like hardware, you got the technology being pushed very hard and all kinds of fancy-smancy modeling going on under the hood.

We'd be making music with a joystick or pad controller.
matter of fact, the synthesizer only had a keyboard since it was trying to appeal to...keyboardists of some kind.

A synth trying to appeal to computer users?

What would that look like?
Certainly it's interface would be centered around what COMPUTER USERS are...used...to.
Windows interface and lots of mouse action.

The only hope is that they tried to emulate Live Instruments.
They are doing that now with mixed results so I don't think much would change in that direction.
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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:33 am

BF wrote:Do you think that if the hamburger had been invented before the cow... er, wait...
Right there.

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Re: If software synths had occured BEFORE hardware synths ..

Post by tyrannosaurus mark » Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:33 am

Yeah, thirded
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