Making A New Sound: Technology Or The Real Thing

We live in a world which is scarily turning digital quicker than we would like. People around the world are constantly glued to their iPads, iPhones, laptops or computers; investing all their time in the online realm.

This is no different when it comes to music. Let’s travel back around sixty or seventy years when artists like the Beatles, Elvis, Nick Drake, Led Zeppelin or the Doors only had access to instruments that existed in reality; that they could pick up and play with their hands. In 2013, musicians can access a whole plethora of fantastical instruments and all it takes is a few clicks of a button. Synthetic sound is accessible, cheap and with every year that passes it sounds even better to our ears. In a hundred years, will have synthetically produced sound completely have taken over?

History of Music

German philosopher Nietzsche once said ‘Without music, life would be a mistake’. From the beginning, mankind and music have always been entwined. The first evidence of mankind creating musical instruments dates right back 45,000 years ago where Neanderthals carved a flute-like instrument out of a bear’s leg bone. Travelling through time, the Mesopotamians had harps, the Egyptians had copper trumpets, the Greeks had water organs, the medieval era had bagpipes, Sacbuts, Hurdy-Gurdys…the list goes on. Pretty much every era has bought about the invention of a new instrument. What’s the new instrument for our era? The synth.

History of Synthetic Sound

Although synthetic sound was pioneered by Robert, the first evidence of it dates back another seventy years. In 1896, Thaddeus Cahill applied for a patent for his own creation; a Telhamonium. This was an instrument like no other, weighing in at two hundred tonnes and was powered by twelve electromagnetic generators.

In 1919 a Russian inventory by the name of Leon Theremin masterminded an instrument which didn’t even require touch to make it function, just the waving of hands in an electrostatic field. The sound was hugely eerie and was used by many horror films at the time.

The widespread use of synthesizers wasn’t until the era of Robert Moog in the 60s and 70s. Moog’s creations were something that people had never seen before, spreading by word-of-mouth in the music industry like wildfire. Soon, many bands had started to use synths such as the Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who and Simon and Garfunkel. When the 1980s came about, there was a big demand for synth-pop, and most bands from the time implanted synths in their performance.

Music in 2013

If you listen to a song in the charts 2013, it is truly hard to tell whether you are hearing real instruments or well studio engineered digital sound. Digital synths are more advanced than ever, using mastering equipment in conjunction with digital audio workstations (DAWs) producers have access to an infinite amount of sound; be it realistic or synthetic sounding.

Currently there are so many interesting ways to make music. The Wablet is a form of scanned synthesis. A digitally animated geometric pattern of springs comes to life as the user touches a surface. The sound is defined by different parameters of touch, how hard, how quick and where.
The Reactable is another synthetic instrument. The Reactable is described as a modular, visual synthesizer from the future which functions through placing different objects on a surface. Sound is changed through interactions with the objects and their relationships with each other on the surface.

However, are real instruments falling by the wayside as we get carried away with producing sound digitally? The answer is no. Yes, a lot of people are starting to use digital sounds in production because they have access to an unlimited amount of sound at a few clicks of a button…but people will always want to real instruments. These new digital instruments are great, but a reactable is never going to be able to replace a piano or a violin. Not yet, anyway.

As much as digital synths are fantastic, there is nothing better than picking up and mastering an instrument which exists in the real world. The future of music is exciting; it will be full of reinvention and innovation. But at the end of the day, a guitarist will always want to rock out with a real guitar that he see, touch and feel with his fingers.

Author Bio:
Thank you to our guest writer Jen Beswick who is a huge fan of music and how it has developed. The DV247Korg Synthesizer is one current product making itself known. We look forward to hearing what products have caught your ears with its sound?

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