Just curious because I ran into an old band mate and he was shocked to hear I play (or try to) synth. He was a rhythm guitar player in a speed metal band years ago.
Made me think.
I felt I have done all I could with guitar, played all styles: metal, alternative, jazz, etc. and have made money doing it. I needed a new inspiration.
My father passed and I looked at his records: Tangerine Dream, Mike Oldfield, Vangeles, Brian Eno. New stuff like Carbon Based Lifeforms and Aes Dana. Inspiring.
I've been avoiding giving synth a try for years until I recently jammed with another guitarist who had a few keyboards. I started messing around and my guitar rig has been lonely since. Whre have you been my whole life moment! But the two will meet when I learn more of the other.
What grabbed me about it was the sounds they made when you turn a dial or a slider. I own 2 synths (Roland Gaia and Alpha Juno 1)and have limited access to others (brother's Slim Phatty) and don't think I've heard the same sound twice. The challenge and skill seems to be in sound design.
I can produce sounds that don't require much playing ability at all- God knows I'll never bust out Rachmaninoff.
I find the relationship with guitar and synth quite opposing in that guitar requires many hand skills: unison bending, lagato bends, tremolo picking, raking, hammer/pull-off, and the like. More intimate. While with the synth you just play the keys and the sounds made by the synth express what we try to convey musically. Challenging indeed. When I discover a sound I ask: what does this make me feel and what do I want others to feel when heard?
It's amazing how I have a sound in mind and while achieving it, I bump into many others accidentally. Like trial and error without the error, mostly.
Interestingly, I played some stuff for my sound engineer pal and he said it sounded like I've been playing for years when it has been months- the beauty of sustained, sweeping saw waves with long release, admitadly hiding my lack of skill, but I've been practicing technique relentlessly.
Again I thank you all for and look forward to continued support and I find this site to be a facilitator in my process less the boring analog vs digital discussions. I'm here to learn.
great question mate, its hard to say. I think I was just always fascniated with depeche Mode and even though i was a metal head and playing guitar in metal bands i had a thing for electronica. My first synth was a Kurzweil K2vx. I loved that thing and made some fun music with it and it kept me up at night as a youngster.
Dig all the bands you mentioned. On my list of sounds to dissect: the opening to Plainsong by The Cure. being a child of the 80's I really like all the synth-pop stuff, even the Kraut rock stuff like Kraftwerk and Can, but there isn't much music I don't like....
Rick Wakeman. I grew up on classic rock and the more I got into music the more I appreciated the more prog stuff like Yes. When I was 13 or 14 I used to dream of having a giant keyboard rig with a Mellotron, Hammond B3, electric pianos and of course 2 or 3 minimoogs.
From there it wasnt much of a stretch to get into Tangerine Dream, Jarre, Vangelis, Eno etc.
From there it was new wave and by the time I was full blown into synths it was the heyday of 90's "electronica" (orbital, the orb, aphex twin, fsol etc.)
Been into pretty much every type of electronic music since then, even got way into that whole electroclash nonsense!
However, I seem to have gotten old recently as I just dont get dubstep
I had a tape version of The Essential Jean Michel Jarre as a kid and wore it out
C64 game soundtracks also
After that it was early 90s stuff like Warp's Artificial Intelligence releases that really sold me!
Last edited by MGB; 14th October 2011 at 10:23 AM..
I still remember the day my dad came in with a new album. It was Oxygene by JMJ, and he told me that this was something amazing, something i never heard before. It was made with an instrument called a 'synthesizer', which was an instrument that could make any sound you can imagine. That's how people thought of synths in those days. Obviously i liked the album.. most of the time.. sometimes i thought it was just weird/bleepy. I remember my friends couldn't appreciate it too much when i played it to them.. it was just beyond their grasp.
Anyway, that's when i started collecting synth music. I never really liked kraftwerk too much.. there was little in their music for me to appreciate, and i thought of it as junk.. lol. I did like Vangelis, Tomita, Michael Garrison etc. Whenever there was a pop music program on TV, i'd look for synths in the bands that came on. As the yeasrs progressed, they started appearing more and more. Back in the day they were really something magical to me.
I remember there being an electronics shop that sold an MG-1. They had it there forever, since nobody understood what it was, and it was way too expensive for anyone to afford anyway. I kept going back to that store, asking if i could play it. They allowed it a few times, but i think i drove those people crazy with all my bleeps and bloops.
Anyway.. that's how my love for synths came to be.
The first I remember was "The Minotaur" , by Dick Hyman.After that I heard Hymen by Stockhausen, which had electronically generated tones but no synth per se. Carlos and "Popcorn"didn't do much for me because I wanted synths to sound different. Then I heard Jan Hammmer with Mahavishnu (as well as "The First Seven Days"), Pat Gleeson with Mwandish, and Sun Ra and what they were doing. That led to other stuff and the landmark "Virginia Plain" by Roxy Music ( w? Eno) and Eno's seminal "Discreet Music". No looking back after that. There was Heldon and David Vorhaus, too many to mention really.
First and foremost, Jean Michel Jarre with Oxygene/Equinoxe (and various other tracks from later albums sprinkled in - Magnetic Fields part 2 was one of my favorite songs back then.
Runner up: Mike Oldfield, Saga, various other prog-rock bands.
Vangelis didn't really come in the picture until I heard the Synthesizer Greatest CDs (replayed synthesizer tracks by Dutch musician Ed Starink) which had all cleaned-up polished versions of what I knew - in several cases not as good. Wendy Carlos with Switched-on Bach came around at that time, too - the sounds were very distinct and un-Jarre-like. I also have Tomita's "Snowflakes are dancing" which is a lot more dreamy and ethereal than Carlos' precise renditions of Bach.
Starink's own album (Inner Spirits) is really great, though - and lots of classic gear in the list (JP8, Minimoog, Linn, Fairlight CMI, etc.) though it's not -that- obvious when you hear it; very polished production, none of the brash, filtered synth sounds.
I heard "Jump" at the arcade at age 11 and it melted my brain. My parents got me a Casio CZ-1000 for confirmation and I learned synthesis and enough theory to transcribe and recreate it exactly (well good enough) how Eddie sounded on the record.
I had one of the Synthesizer's Greatest collections on a copied cassette. That's probably been the first spark - it had Hot Butter's Popcorn on it, some Jarre, probably Vangelis and Tomita and the like; classic stuff.
for me it has to be
Keith Emerson (first two ELP albums)
hearing Lucky Man was like "enter the monster"- can you imagine if tomorrow someone discovers a new color that has nothing to do with the rainbow, or meeting a real alien? Things like that. A privilege being an avid young music listener when the synthesizer was invented.
Started on piano at 4th grade and hated it until I started messing around with writing my own stuff. A music teacher at my school befriended me (8th grade) and let me come to his music room and mess around with his synths during off hours and stuff. He had a DSS1 and DX7 (of course, it was 1988) I was hooked from that point on. Managed to score a DW8000 that summer and from that point on, the rest is history, so to speak. Still have the DW and it still sounds great.
Now if I were only smart enough at the time to realize who my music teacher really was and the company I was in. Seriously. Talk about not knowing sh!t when you're young.
Todd Rundgren and Roger Powell
Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein'
but to the Original OP, You said: "I find the relationship with guitar and synth quite opposing in that guitar requires many hand skills: unison bending, lagato bends, tremolo picking, raking, hammer/pull-off, and the like. More intimate. While with the synth you just play the keys and the sounds made by the synth express what we try to convey musically."
Yes, you can look at it that way, but don't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking of the synth keyboard as nothing more than switches to turn the notes on and off. Especially since you already have a background in playing a very expressive instrument like the guitar, I encourage you to explore the possibilities of building that kind of expressiveness into your synth patches using things like key velocity, aftertouch, mod wheels, joysticks and pedal controllers in creative and expressive ways. Those are the kinds of things that can really bring your sounds to life, and help infuse YOUR sound and style into your synth playing.
I'm not kidding either. I came to this forum and started reading peoples posts talking about all these different synthesizers with such passion that it got me interested to start researching all the different synths. Then because I started liking synths I started researching electronic music. Before that I'd just been a guitarist for almost 30 years.
All thanks to GEARSLUTZ I stopped saving money and started spending it!!!!!!
An advance copy of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" blew our minds at Motown and we went right out and bought one of the first five or ten Moog modular synthesizers. It turned out to be utterly impractical because it wasn't stable enough to produce the same sound twice in a row but I was utterly smitten as was Stevie Wonder.
You've heard where Stevie went with it. I went off into "art music" and obscurity. The thing I've never been able to wrap my head around is emulating other instruments. That practice has just cheapened pop music while synthesizers can be used to explore new spaces.