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What should we call "the synthesizer"? Should we change it's name?


Tusker

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Got this idea for a poll from "The Pro" on another thread. Do you think the synthesizer gets a bad rap because of the connotations of artificiality inherent in the name? Would you change the name? What would you call these instruments? Please tell us ...

 

Best,

 

Jerry

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Names that describe how things work internally, like synthesizer, have short lifetimes and cause problems as the technology changes.

 

How about something really simple and understood by both musicians and non-musicians?

 

Drum roll, please. Introducing the ...

 

Keyboard

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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I only view one of my boards as a 'synthesizer', and that's the JP8000 virtual analog. It fills the role of a synth.

 

My other 'synths' are a Rhodes MK80 and an Alesis QS7.1. The Rhodes fills the role of piano, EP, and Clavinet while the Alesis essentially fills the role of a glorified Mellotron. It's especially difficult for me to think of the MK80 as a synth.

 

So I submit the devices fall into a class of instruments called 'keyboards', and I submit the analog/VA be called 'synthesizer'. Furthermore, the QS71 will be called 'rompler' and the MK80 will be called 'piano' (for lack of a better word). So I'm basing their names on their function rather than their architecture.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Call me picky, but 'synthesizer' and 'rompler' describe form (the internal architecture), not function.

 

'Piano' describes function, i.e. an instrument that could play softly, unlike the harpsichord.

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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My introduction to ROMpler was online as well. I do like synthesizer, cause you can be a synthetist without being much of a keyboard player, and you can be a keyboard player without being a synthetist. Also synthesizers don't have to be keyboard-based (guitar synth anyone, even chapman sticks can be used as controllers).

 

prog

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"Synthesizer" might not be the perfect name, but is much better than "Keyboard", as the synthesizer does not need a keyboard at all.

 

However, I agree that the word "synthesizer" lends a view of the instrument as purely imitative. "Electrophone" would be more correct perhaps, but it's also more generic and less elegant. What about...

 

Oscillophone

Wavemaker

Electronium (Yeah, I know it's not new, but I like the sound of it!)

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"Rompler" is an ugly looking word, and I hope I never actually have to say it. "And over here is my rompler room". Nah. Let's just nip that one in the bud. I hope it's not too late.

 

I've got no problem with the word "synthesizer". As far as it connoting something synthetic, I disagree because we've becomed so accustomed to the word that we don't even stop to think about what it means anymore, we just throw it around. Besides, it's a cool-sounding word. It's got a "z" in it, it's fun to say. "z". "z". "z". We're going to replace that with frumpy dumpy "rompler"? No way.

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I agree....the word "rompler" has got to go.

 

By the way, speaking of words I didn't know about until I joined online forums--"piece of kit" is another one. Nobody around here uses that term. Maybe it's just European. :P

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Originally posted by Pim:

Don't even think about changing it! The name is part of the magic...

I agree. I love the word "synthesizer". I think it sounds really cool. The first time I heard it was when I saw the Moog Modular on the cover of Switched on Bach - I thought the word sounded as cool as the thing looked.

 

dB

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Originally posted by Synthoid:

By the way, speaking of words I didn't know about until I joined online forums--"piece of kit" is another one. Nobody around here uses that term. Maybe it's just European. :P

I believe that's a British term...at least, originally...

 

dB

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Originally posted by marino:

I agree that the word "synthesizer" lends a view of the instrument as purely imitative. "Electrophone" would be more correct perhaps, but it's also more generic and less elegant. What about...

 

Oscillophone

Wavemaker

Electronium (Yeah, I know it's not new, but I like the sound of it!)

Those are good. You're really getting into the spirit of this thing, Marino. :)

 

In the same vein:

 

Oscillotron (think mellotron)

Electrochord (think clavichord)

Syntheboard (that one almost stands a snowball's chance ;) )

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I've always liked the word synthesizer. To me, it evokes images of an intricate device - with limits not even totally understood. It allows the user to magically create (well, it's magic to MY ears :) ) synthesize, and explore new sonic landscapes. Or, one could just make the sound of a.... tuba. :D
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Originally posted by Odyssian:

I've always liked the word synthesizer. To me, it evokes images of an intricate device - with limits not even totally understood. It allows the user to magically create (well, it's magic to MY ears :) ) synthesize, and explore new sonic landscapes. Or, one could just make the sound of a.... tuba. :D

Well said .. can't agree more
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Thanks for the responses. It looks like about 20% of us would like a different name.

 

I've always loved the word synthesizer. I think of myself as a pianist and synthesist, not a multi-keyboardist.

 

I think the word synthesizer promises a lot. As though all sounds are possible. (Well, so many sounds are possible that it's almost true.) So in that sense it's kinda like a superlative. :thu:

 

Of course all sounds aren't possible because we don't make things from scratch. We might start with a coarse notion like a saw wave. And sculpt from there. Or a sample. Even in additive synthesis we start with a paradigm. And sometimes the beauty of the sound is in the paradigm. The most beautiful synthesizer sounds that I can think of are the ones that are unique to the synthesizer.

 

And in some cases people take "synthesizer" to mean "imitation machine". I think that's unfortunate, because it detracts from those unique sounds.

 

Perhaps the name "synthesizer" is still a kind of blank slate. Something we get to define the meaning of. Through the music we create.

 

Best,

 

Jery

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'Piano' describes function, i.e. an instrument that could play softly, unlike the harpsichord.
...And loudly as well, as the more complete and accurate name, "pianoforte," suggests.

 

(But, I'm sure everyone here knew that! ;) )

 

For more info: A Lesson In Piano History And Construction

 

Best,

 

Geoff

My Blue Someday appears on Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon

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All right! These are creative ideas. :D

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, At the starting line, we have:

 

Oscillophone

Wavemaker

Electronium

Oscillotron

Electrochord

Syntheboard

Morphinator

 

Anybody else want to put a horse in the race? ;)

 

Jerry

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Originally posted by Dave Bryce:

I agree. I love the word "synthesizer". I think it sounds really cool.

As dB may recall, this was a matter of some contention between he and I years ago.

 

At the company where we worked, we had several divisions of product lines. I (being a writer and a Weasel) wanted to have consistency in tense among the various names, which I'd called Recording, Signal Processing, Acoustics and Synthesis.

 

dB put his foot down (as he did more than once), saying he HATED the word "synthesis". "How can you hate synthesis?" I asked him, trying to swing his opinion. "You use synthesis every day."

 

"No I don't," he quickly replied. "I use synthesizers."

 

He won. And, looking back, he was right. It's a great word. At the same time, I agree: it's a complete misnomer for the actual science being used to generate sound electronically for the most part these days.

 

- Jeff

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Don Buchla called his instruments "electronic music boxes" as he disliked the word synthesizer.

 

It depends upon what form you're interested in; ROMplers (ROM playback) are pianos etc., and something like Don's gear, most of which lack a traditional keyboard, still make complex sound yet can't be called keyboards.

Give me the ANALOG and no one gets HURT
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Not at all. The word 'synthesize' is the exact antithesis of 'imitate'. Some synonyms of 'synthesize' are:

create

make

produce

manufacture

fuse

amalgamate

blend

combine

integrate

join

 

'Imitate' is nowhere to be found. And anyone familiar with the heyday of analog synths knows their popularity came about specifically because they created brand-new sounds. It was only when sampling became cheap that synths became imitative.

 

Originally posted by marino:

However, I agree that the word "synthesizer" lends a view of the instrument as purely imitative.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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I say we keep the name synthesizers because I would hate to have my google results mixed with computer keyboards lol.

 

Its Distinguished and its part of our history as.

No keyboard player wants to say I play the keyboards... they want to list I play piano, organs, synths, ect...

 

Yeah people may ask me what the heck a synth is but then I get to share with them and I take that as a awesome experience.

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Originally posted by Togakure:

Kurzweil Keyboard Dept. Manager

There's that "k" word ;-)

 

Or is that intentional (Young Chang etc.)?

 

(This is the Keyboard Corner.. Synthesizer Corner is nice, but..)

Give me the ANALOG and no one gets HURT
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