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  1. Instrument Requests
  2. INST-547

Time to get methodical about electronic instruments?





      I believe the Electronic Instrument section of the Instrument List could do with a bit more rigour, and it's one of the few instrument sections I can possibly help out with. While such instruments can be amongst the most diverse and versatile, and even different models and manufacturers can have their own distinctive sound, I think we can still split them up fairly hierarchically without needing to involve specific companies or brands at a particularly fundamental level, more at the leaf end than the root end.

      There are various broad categories of synthesis that, although not always completely distinct, might be a good starting point:

      • Subtractive synthesiser
      • Additive synthesiser
      • Frequency modulation based synthesiser
      • Physical modelling synthesiser
      • Sampler

      These can be subdivided in a number of ways. Let's look at the sampler as an example, as that can get far removed from synthesis:

      • Sampler
        • Analogue tape based sampler
          • Chamberlin
          • Mellotron
        • Analogue optical disc based sampler
          • Orchestron
        • Digital PCM sampler
          • Fairlight CMI
          • Akai S1000
          • Akai MPC 60

      When looked at this way, we can start to recategorise some of the existing instruments. For example, Hammond organs are essentially a subtype of additive synthesiser, although they are electric, not electronic. (They use pickups, like electric pianos and electric guitars do.)

      Subtractive synthesisers can be further broken down by one of several ways, into e.g. modular / semi-modular / hardwired, or analogue / hybrid / digital, or monophonic / paraphonic / polyphonic. Once at that level, it might be worth looking at specific companies and models, but I wouldn't advise it on a broader scale.

      Even the single-tree-based approach may be too limiting, as any given instrument can fall under several categories simultaneously. For instance, the Minimoog is a subtractive, electronic synthesiser, and also hardwired, and also analogue, and also monophonic. Being hardwired separates it from the Moog Modular it was based on; being analogue separates it from, say, a Novation BassStation; being monophonic separates it from a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5.

      Anyway, it's a big undertaking, and there's several seemingly equally sensible approaches that could be taken, but either way, I'd like to help out if possible.


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                  sequencer synth moogs etc