Music technology is the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or music. The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes.Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals. In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre. Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used. During the Middle Ages, music notation was used to create a written record of the notes of plainchant melodies.
During the Renaissance music era, the printing press was invented, which made it much easier to mass-produce music (which had previously been hand-copied). This helped to spread musical styles more quickly and across a larger area. During the Baroque era (1600-1750), technologies for keyboard instruments developed, which led to improvements in the designs of pipe organs and harpsichords, and the development of a new keyboard instrument in about 1700, the piano. In the classical era, Beethoven added new instruments to the orchestra to create new sounds, such as the piccolo, contrabassoon, trombones, and untuned percussion in his Ninth Symphony. During the Romantic music era (c. 1810-1900), one of the key ways that new compositions became known to the public was by the sales of sheet music, which amateur music lovers would perform at home on their piano or other instruments. In the 19th century, new instruments such as saxophones, euphoniums, Wagner tubas, and cornets were added to the orchestra.
Around the turn of the 20th century, with the invention and popularization of the gramophone record (commercialized in 1892), and radio broadcasting (starting on a commercial basis ca. 1919-1920), there was a vast increase in music listening, and it was easier to distribute music to a wider public. The development of sound recording had a major influence on the development of popular music genres, because it enabled recordings of songs and bands to be widely distributed. The invention of sound recording gave rise to new subgenre of classical music, the Musique concrete style of electronic composition. The invention of multitrack recording enabled pop bands to overdub many layers of instrument tracks and vocals, creating new sounds that would not be possible in a live performance. In the early 20th century, electric technologies such as electromagnetic pickups, amplifiers and loudspeakers were used to develop new electric instruments such as the electric piano (1929), electric guitar (1931), electro-mechanical organ (1934) and electric bass (1935). The 20th-century orchestra gained new instruments and new sounds. Some orchestra pieces used the electric guitar, electric bass or the Theremin.
The invention of the miniature transistor in 1947 enabled the creation of a new generation of synthesizers, which were used first in pop music in the 1960s. Unlike prior keyboard instrument technologies, synthesizer keyboards do not have strings, pipes, or metal tines. A synthesizer keyboard creates musical sounds using electronic circuitry, or, later, computer chips and software. Synthesizers became popular in the mass market in the early 1980s. With the development of powerful microchips, a number of new electronic or digital music technologies were introduced in the 1980s and subsequent decades, including drum machines and music sequencers. Electronic and digital music technologies are any device, such as a computer, an electronic effects unit or software, that is used by a musician or composer to help make or perform music. The term usually refers to the use of electronic devices, computer hardware and computer software that is used in the performance, playback, recording, composition, sound recording and reproduction, mixing, analysis and editing of music.
Findings from paleolithic archaeology sites suggest that prehistoric people used carving and piercing tools to create instruments. Archeologists have found Paleolithic flutes carved from bones in which lateral holes have been pierced. The Divje Babe flute, carved from a cave bear femur, is thought to be at least 40,000 years old. Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments, such as the Ravanahatha, have been recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites. India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world--references to Indian classical music (marga) are found in the Vedas, ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition. The earliest and largest collection of prehistoric musical instruments was found in China and dates back to between 7000 and 6600 BC.
In prehistoric Egypt, music and chanting were commonly used in magic and rituals, and small shells were used as whistles.(pp26-30) Evidence of Egyptian musical instruments dates to the Predynastic period, when funerary chants played an important role in Egyptian religion and were accompanied by clappers and possibly the flute. The most reliable evidence of instrument technologies dates from the Old Kingdom, when technologies for constructing harps, flutes and double clarinets were developed.Percussion instruments, lyres and lutes were used by the Middle Kingdom. Metal cymbals were used by ancient Egyptians. In the early 21st century, interest in the music of the pharaonic period began to grow, inspired by the research of such foreign-born musicologists as Hans Hickmann. By the early 21st century, Egyptian musicians and musicologists led by the musicology professor Khairy El-Malt at Helwan University in Cairo had begun to reconstruct musical instruments of Ancient Egypt, a project that is ongoing.
The Indus Valley civilization has sculptures that show old musical instruments, like the seven-holed flute. Various types of stringed instruments and drums have been recovered from Harappa and Mohenjo Daro by excavations carried out by Sir Mortimer Wheeler.
According to the Scriptures, Jubal was the father of harpists and organists (Gen. 4:20-21). The harp was among the chief instruments and the favorite of David, and it is referred to more than fifty times in the Bible. It was used at both joyful and mournful ceremonies, and its use was "raised to its highest perfection under David" (1 Sam. 16:23). Lockyer adds that "It was the sweet music of the harp that often dispossessed Saul of his melancholy (1 Sam. 16:14-23; 18:10-11).:46 When the Jews were captive in Babylon they hung their harps up and refused to use them while in exile, earlier being part of the instruments used in the Temple (1 Kgs. 10:12). Another stringed instrument of the harp class, and one also used by the ancient Greeks, was the lyre. A similar instrument was the lute, which had a large pear-shaped body, long neck, and fretted fingerboard with head screws for tuning. Coins displaying musical instruments, the Bar Kochba Revolt coinage, were issued by the Jews during the Second Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire of 132-135 AD. In addition to those, there was the psaltery, another stringed instrument which is referred to almost thirty times in Scripture. According to Josephus, it had twelve strings and was played with a quill, not with the hand. Another writer suggested that it was like a guitar, but with a flat triangular form and strung from side to side.:49
Among the wind instruments used in the biblical period were the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet.:50 There were also silver trumpets and the double oboe. Werner concludes that from the measurements taken of the trumpets on the Arch of Titus in Rome and from coins, that "the trumpets were very high pitched with thin body and shrill sound." He adds that in War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, a manual for military organization and strategy discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls, these trumpets "appear clearly capable of regulating their pitch pretty accurately, as they are supposed to blow rather complicated signals in unison.":2 Whitcomb writes that the pair of silver trumpets were fashioned according to Mosaic law and were probably among the trophies which the Emperor Titus brought to Rome when he conquered Jerusalem. She adds that on the Arch raised to the victorious Titus, "there is a sculptured relief of these trumpets, showing their ancient form. (see photo)
The flute was commonly used for festal and mourning occasions, according to Whitcomb. "Even the poorest Hebrew was obliged to employ two flute-players to perform at his wife's funeral." The shofar (the horn of a ram) is still used for special liturgical purposes such as the Jewish New Year services in orthodox communities. As such, it is not considered a musical instrument but an instrument of theological symbolism which has been intentionally kept to its primitive character. In ancient times it was used for warning of danger, to announce the new moon or beginning of Sabbath, or to announce the death of a notable. "In its strictly ritual usage it carried the cries of the multitude to God," writes Werner.:12
Among the percussion instruments were bells, cymbals, sistrum, tabret, hand drums, and tambourines. The tabret, or timbrel, was a small hand-drum used for festive occasions, and was considered a woman's instrument. In modern times it was often used by the Salvation Army. According to the Bible, when the children of Israel came out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, "Miriam took a timbrel in her hands; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dance."
In Ancient Greece, instruments in all music can be divided into three categories, based on how sound is produced: string, wind, and percussion. The following were among the instruments used in the music of ancient Greece:
The Romans may have borrowed the Greek method[page needed] of 'enchiriadic notation' to record their music, if they used any notation at all. Four letters (in English notation 'A', 'G', 'F' and 'C') indicated a series of four succeeding tones. Rhythm signs, written above the letters, indicated the duration of each note. Roman art depicts various woodwinds, "brass", percussion and stringed instruments. Roman-style instruments are found in parts of the Empire where they did not originate, and indicate that music was among the aspects of Roman culture that spread throughout the provinces.
Roman instruments include:
During the medieval music era (476 to 1400) the plainchant tunes used for religious songs were primarily monophonic (a single line, unaccompanied melody). In the early centuries of the medieval era, these chants were taught and spread by oral tradition ("by ear"). The earliest Medieval music did not have any kind of notational system for writing down melodies. As Rome tried to standardize the various chants across vast distances of its empire, a form of music notation was needed to write down the melodies. Various signs written above the chant texts, called neumes were introduced. By the ninth century, it was firmly established as the primary method of musical notation. The next development in musical notation was "heighted neumes", in which neumes were carefully placed at different heights in relation to each other. This allowed the neumes to give a rough indication of the size of a given interval as well as the direction.
This quickly led to one or two lines, each representing a particular note, being placed on the music with all of the neumes relating back to them. The line or lines acted as a reference point to help the singer gauge which notes were higher or lower. At first, these lines had no particular meaning and instead had a letter placed at the beginning indicating which note was represented. However, the lines indicating middle C and the F a fifth below slowly became most common. The completion of the four-line staff is usually credited to Guido d' Arezzo (c. 1000-1050), one of the most important musical theorists of the Middle Ages. It should be noted that the neumatic notational system, even in its fully developed state, did not clearly define any kind of rhythm for the singing of notes or playing of melodies. The development of music notation made it faster and easier to teach melodies to new people, and facilitated the spread of music over long geographic distances.
Instruments used to perform medieval music include earlier, less mechanically sophisticated versions of a number of instruments that continue to be used in the 2010s. Medieval instruments include the flute, which was made of wood and could be made as a side-blown or end-blown instrument (it lacked the complex metal keys and airtight pads of 2010s-era metal flutes); the wooden recorder and the related instrument called the gemshorn; and the pan flute (a group of air columns attached together). Medieval music used many plucked string instruments like the lute, mandore, gittern and psaltery. The dulcimers, similar in structure to the psaltery and zither, were originally plucked, but became struck by hammers in the 14th century after the arrival of new technology that made metal strings possible.
Bowed strings were used as well. The bowed lyra of the Byzantine Empire was the first recorded European bowed string instrument. The Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih of the 9th century (d. 911) cited the Byzantine lyra as a bowed instrument equivalent to the Arab rab?b and typical instrument of the Byzantines along with the urghun (organ), shilyani (probably a type of harp or lyre) and the salandj (probably a bagpipe). The hurdy-gurdy was a mechanical violin using a rosined wooden wheel attached to a crank to "bow" its strings. Instruments without sound boxes like the jaw harp were also popular in the time. Early versions of the organ, fiddle (or vielle), and trombone (called the sackbut) existed in the medieval era.
The Renaissance music era (c. 1400 to 1600) saw the development of many new technologies that affected the performance and distribution of songs and musical pieces. Around 1450, the printing press was invented, which made printed sheet music much less expensive and easier to mass-produce (prior to the invention of the printing press, all notated music was laboriously hand-copied). The increased availability of printed sheet music helped to spread musical styles more quickly and across a larger geographic area.
Many instruments originated during the Renaissance; others were variations of, or improvements upon, instruments that had existed previously in the medieval era. Brass instruments in the Renaissance were traditionally played by professionals. Some of the more common brass instruments that were played included:
Stringed instruments included:
Percussion instruments included:
Woodwind instruments included:
During the Baroque era of music (ca. 1600-1750), technologies for keyboard instruments developed, which led to improvements in the designs of pipe organs and harpsichords, and to the development of the first pianos. During the Baroque period, organ builders developed new types of pipes and reeds that created new tonal colors. Organ builders fashioned new stops that imitated various instruments, such as the viola da gamba. The Baroque period is often thought of as organ building's "golden age," as virtually every important refinement to the instrument was brought to a peak. Builders such as Arp Schnitger, Jasper Johannsen, Zacharias Hildebrandt and Gottfried Silbermann constructed instruments that displayed both exquisite craftsmanship and beautiful sound. These organs featured well-balanced mechanical key actions, giving the organist precise control over the pipe speech. Schnitger's organs featured particularly distinctive reed timbres and large Pedal and Rückpositiv divisions.
Harpsichord builders in the Southern Netherlands built instruments with two keyboards which could be used for transposition. These Flemish instruments served as the model for Baroque-era harpsichord construction in other nations. In France, the double keyboards were adapted to control different choirs of strings, making a more musically flexible instrument (e.g., the upper manual could be set to a quiet lute stop, while the lower manual could be set to a stop with multiple string choirs, for a louder sound. Instruments from the peak of the French tradition, by makers such as the Blanchet family and Pascal Taskin, are among the most widely admired of all harpsichords, and are frequently used as models for the construction of modern instruments. In England, the Kirkman and Shudi firms produced sophisticated harpsichords of great power and sonority. German builders extended the sound repertoire of the instrument by adding sixteen foot choirs, adding to the lower register and two foot choirs, which added to the upper register.
The piano was invented during the Baroque era by the expert harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Padua, Italy, who was employed by Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany. Cristofori invented the piano at some point before 1700. While the clavichord allowed expressive control of volume, with harder or louder key presses creating louder sound (and vice versa) and fairly sustained notes, it was too quiet for large performances. The harpsichord produced a sufficiently loud sound, but offered little expressive control over each note. Pressing a harpsichord key harder or softer had no effect on the instrument's loudness. The piano offered the best of both, combining loudness with dynamic control. Cristofori's great success was solving, with no prior example, the fundamental mechanical problem of piano design: the hammer must strike the string, but not remain in contact with it (as a tangent remains in contact with a clavichord string) because this would damp the sound. Moreover, the hammer must return to its rest position without bouncing violently, and it must be possible to repeat the same note rapidly. Cristofori's piano action was a model for the many approaches to piano actions that followed. Cristofori's early instruments were much louder and had more sustain than the clavichord. Even though the piano was invented in 1700, the harpsichord and pipe organ continued to be widely used in orchestra and chamber music concerts until the end of the 1700s. It took time for the new piano to gain in popularity. By 1800, though, the piano generally was used in place of the harpsichord (although pipe organ continued to be used in church music such as Masses).
From about 1790 onward, the Mozart-era piano underwent tremendous changes that led to the modern form of the instrument. This revolution was in response to a preference by composers and pianists for a more powerful, sustained piano sound, and made possible by the ongoing Industrial Revolution with resources such as high-quality steel piano wire for strings, and precision casting for the production of iron frames. Over time, the tonal range of the piano was also increased from the five octaves of Mozart's day to the 7-plus range found on modern pianos. Early technological progress owed much to the firm of Broadwood. John Broadwood joined with another Scot, Robert Stodart, and a Dutchman, Americus Backers, to design a piano in the harpsichord case--the origin of the "grand". They achieved this in about 1777. They quickly gained a reputation for the splendour and powerful tone of their instruments, with Broadwood constructing ones that were progressively larger, louder, and more robustly constructed.
They sent pianos to both Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, and were the first firm to build pianos with a range of more than five octaves: five octaves and a fifth (interval) during the 1790s, six octaves by 1810 (Beethoven used the extra notes in his later works), and seven octaves by 1820. The Viennese makers similarly followed these trends; however the two schools used different piano actions: Broadwoods were more robust, Viennese instruments were more sensitive.
Beethoven's instrumentation for orchestra added piccolo, contrabassoon, and trombones to the triumphal finale of his Symphony No. 5. A piccolo and a pair of trombones help deliver storm and sunshine in the Sixth. Beethoven's use of piccolo, contrabassoon, trombones, and untuned percussion in his Ninth Symphony expanded the sound of the orchestra.
During the Romantic music era (c. 1810 to 1900), one of the key ways that new compositions became known to the public was by the sales of sheet music, which amateur music lovers would perform at home on their piano or in chamber music groups, such as string quartets. Saxophones began to appear in some 19th-century orchestra scores. While appearing only as featured solo instruments in some works, for example Maurice Ravel's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, the saxophone is included in other works, such as Ravel's Boléro, Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suites 1 and 2. The euphonium is featured in a few late Romantic and 20th-century works, usually playing parts marked "tenor tuba", including Gustav Holst's The Planets, and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben. The Wagner tuba, a modified member of the horn family, appears in Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and several other works by Strauss, Béla Bartók, and others; it has a prominent role in Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E Major. Cornets appear in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, Claude Debussy's La Mer, and several orchestral works by Hector Berlioz.
The piano continued to undergo technological developments in the Romantic era, up until the 1860s. By the 1820s, the center of piano building innovation had shifted to Paris, where the Pleyel firm manufactured pianos used by Frédéric Chopin and the Érard firm manufactured those used by Franz Liszt. In 1821, Sébastien Érard invented the double escapement action, which incorporated a repetition lever (also called the balancier) that permitted repeating a note even if the key had not yet risen to its maximum vertical position. This facilitated rapid playing of repeated notes, a musical device exploited by Liszt. When the invention became public, as revised by Henri Herz, the double escapement action gradually became standard in grand pianos, and is still incorporated into all grand pianos currently produced. Other improvements of the mechanism included the use of felt hammer coverings instead of layered leather or cotton. Felt, which was first introduced by Jean-Henri Pape in 1826, was a more consistent material, permitting wider dynamic ranges as hammer weights and string tension increased. The sostenuto pedal, invented in 1844 by Jean-Louis Boisselot and copied by the Steinway firm in 1874, allowed a wider range of effects.
One innovation that helped create the sound of the modern piano was the use of a strong iron frame. Also called the "plate", the iron frame sits atop the soundboard, and serves as the primary bulwark against the force of string tension that can exceed 20 tons in a modern grand. The single piece cast iron frame was patented in 1825 in Boston by Alpheus Babcock, combining the metal hitch pin plate (1821, claimed by Broadwood on behalf of Samuel Hervé) and resisting bars (Thom and Allen, 1820, but also claimed by Broadwood and Érard). The increased structural integrity of the iron frame allowed the use of thicker, tenser, and more numerous strings. In 1834, the Webster & Horsfal firm of Birmingham brought out a form of piano wire made from cast steel; according to Dolge it was "so superior to the iron wire that the English firm soon had a monopoly."
Other important advances included changes to the way the piano is strung, such as the use of a "choir" of three strings rather than two for all but the lowest notes, and the implementation of an over-strung scale, in which the strings are placed in two separate planes, each with its own bridge height. The mechanical action structure of the upright piano was invented in London, England in 1826 by Robert Wornum, and upright models became the most popular model, also amplifying the sound.
With 20th-century music, there was a vast increase in music listening, as the radio gained popularity and phonographs were used to replay and distribute music. The invention of sound recording and the ability to edit music gave rise to new subgenre of classical music, including the acousmatic and Musique concrète schools of electronic composition. Sound recording was also a major influence on the development of popular music genres, because it enabled recordings of songs and bands to be widely distributed. The introduction of the multitrack recording system had a major influence on rock music, because it could do much more than record a band's performance. Using a multitrack system, a band and their music producer could overdub many layers of instrument tracks and vocals, creating new sounds that would not be possible in a live performance.
The 20th-century orchestra was far more flexible than its predecessors. In Beethoven's and Felix Mendelssohn's time, the orchestra was composed of a fairly standard core of instruments which was very rarely modified. As time progressed, and as the Romantic period saw changes in accepted modification with composers such as Berlioz and Mahler, the 20th century saw that instrumentation could practically be hand-picked by the composer. Saxophones were used in some 20th-century orchestra scores such as Vaughan Williams' Symphonies No.6 and 9 and William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, and many other works as a member of the orchestral ensemble. In the 2000s, the modern orchestra became standardized with the modern instrumentation that includes a string section, woodwinds, brass instruments, percussion, piano, celeste, and even, for some 20th century or 21st century works, electric instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass and/or electronic instruments such as the Theremin or synthesizer.
Electric music technology refers to musical instruments and recording devices that use electrical circuits, which are often combined with mechanical technologies. Examples of electric musical instruments include the electro-mechanical electric piano (invented in 1929), the electric guitar (invented in 1931), the electro-mechanical Hammond organ (developed in 1934) and the electric bass (invented in 1935). None of these electric instruments produce a sound that is audible by the performer or audience in a performance setting unless they are connected to instrument amplifiers and loudspeaker cabinets, which made them sound loud enough for performers and the audience to hear. Amplifiers and loudspeakers are separate from the instrument in the case of the electric guitar (which uses a guitar amplifier), electric bass (which uses a bass amplifier) and some electric organs (which use a Leslie speaker or similar cabinet) and electric pianos. Some electric organs and electric pianos include the amplifier and speaker cabinet within the main housing for the instrument.
An electric piano is an electric musical instrument which produces sounds when a performer presses the keys of the piano-style musical keyboard. Pressing keys causes mechanical hammers to strike metal strings or tines, leading to vibrations which are converted into electrical signals by magnetic pickups, which are then connected to an instrument amplifier and loudspeaker to make a sound loud enough for the performer and audience to hear. Unlike a synthesizer, the electric piano is not an electronic instrument. Instead, it is an electro-mechanical instrument. Some early electric pianos used lengths of wire to produce the tone, like a traditional piano. Smaller electric pianos used short slivers of steel, metal tines or short wires to produce the tone. The earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s.
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical impulses. The most common guitar pickup uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before being sent to a loudspeaker. The output of an electric guitar is an electric signal, and the signal can easily be altered by electronic circuits to add "color" to the sound. Often the signal is modified using electronic effects such as reverb and distortion. Invented in 1931, the electric guitar became a necessity as jazz guitarists sought to amplify their sound in the big band format.
The Hammond organ is an electric organ, invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Various models have been produced, most of which use sliding drawbars to create a variety of sounds. Until 1975, Hammond organs generated sound by creating an electric current from rotating a metal tonewheel near an electromagnetic pickup. Around two million Hammond organs have been manufactured, and it has been described as one of the most successful organs. The organ is commonly used with, and associated with, the Leslie speaker. The organ was originally marketed and sold by the Hammond Organ Company to churches as a lower-cost alternative to the wind-driven pipe organ, or instead of a piano. It quickly became popular with professional jazz bandleaders, who found that the room-filling sound of a Hammond organ could form small bands such as organ trios which were less costly than paying an entire big band.
The electric bass (or bass guitar) was invented in the 1930s, but it did not become commercially successful or widely used until the 1950s. It is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb, by plucking, slapping, popping, strumming, tapping, thumping, or picking with a plectrum, often known as a pick. The bass guitar is similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, but with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings or courses. The electric bass usually uses metal strings and an electromagnetic pickup which senses the vibrations in the strings. Like the electric guitar, the bass guitar is plugged into an amplifier and speaker for live performances.
Electronic or digital music technology is any device, such as a computer, an electronic effects unit or software, that is used by a musician or composer to help make or perform music. The term usually refers to the use of electronic devices, computer hardware and computer software that is used in the performance, playback, recording, composition, sound recording and reproduction, mixing, analysis and editing of music. Electronic or digital music technology is connected to both artistic and technological creativity. Musicians and music technology experts are constantly striving to devise new forms of expression through music, and they are physically creating new devices and software to enable them to do so. Although in the 2010s, the term is most commonly used in reference to modern electronic devices and computer software such as digital audio workstations and Protools digital sound recording software, electronic and digital musical technologies have precursors in the electric music technologies of the early 20th century, such as the electromechanical Hammond organ, which was invented in 1929. In the 2010s, the ontological range of music technology has greatly increased, and it may now be electronic, digital, software-based or indeed even purely conceptual.
A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates electric signals that are converted to sound through instrument amplifiers and loudspeakers or headphones. Synthesizers may either imitate existing sounds (instruments, vocal, natural sounds, etc.), or generate new electronic timbres or sounds that did not exist before. They are often played with an electronic musical keyboard, but they can be controlled via a variety of other input devices, including music sequencers, instrument controllers, fingerboards, guitar synthesizers, wind controllers, and electronic drums. Synthesizers without built-in controllers are often called sound modules, and are controlled using a controller device.
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