A keyboard synthesizer is a piano alternative that creates sound through electrical currents. There are different types of synthesizers. The synthesizer produces sound when electric signals are pressed. Some synthesizers use a stringed instrument, which resembles a guitar, others use a wind controller, which resembles a saxophone, and others use drum pads. The most common, however, are synthesizers that use a keyboard that resembles a piano. The instrument that signals the sound from the synthesizer is known as the controller.
There are three types of keyboard synthesizers: analog, digital and software. There are also hybrid synthesizers, which use a combination of two or more of these technologies. While there are many different types of synthesizers, keyboard synthesizers are the most common type of controller, and are relatively simple to use. The sound of the synthesizer simulates the sound of real musical instruments. There is an electrical switch under each key. When the key is pressed, the switch generates a tone.
For the noise to progress from electric frequency to traditional music, it must travel through a loudspeaker or set of headphones. The noise that is produced by the electrical frequencies can mimic the sound of various instruments. Sound is adjusted up and down the scale by speeding up or slowing down the music. Speeding up the playback speed gives the effect of moving up an octave, while slowing down the sound gives the effect of lowering the music an octave.
Electrical synthesizers have been around for a long time, but it was not until recently that technology allowed their widespread use. The first electric synthesizer was developed in 1876, an accidental discovery while the inventor Elisha Gray was working on a prototype of the telephone. In the 1960s, technology had advanced so that keyboard synthesizers could be played in real time. Their size, however, meant that they were primarily used in recording studios.
In 1968, the band The Monkees made history by scoring the first number one album that had music generated from a synthesizer. The album was Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. After the success of The Monkees album, the keyboard synthesizer was used more regularly in various recordings. In 1969, the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service earned the distinction of being the first film to use synthesized music.
The 1970s brought widespread success for the keyboard synthesizer. Some musicians made an art of developing different sounds and mixes on their synthesizers. Hobbyist magazines provided detailed plans that amateurs could use to build their own synthesizers.