The 14 Synthesisers That Shaped Modern Music

Tremendous, well-researched article by John Twells for Fact Magazine. The synthesiser has come a long way since my father first played me Tomita's Snowflakes Are Dancing in the 1970s.

The concept is simple enough – a basic circuit generates a tone, and the tone can then be controlled by some sort of input, human or otherwise. It’s a concept that has provided the backbone for countless instruments over the last 100-or-so years, and like it or not, has informed the direction of modern music both in the mainstream and in the underground.

I've loved records created with pretty much every synth on the list. I spent a lot of time listening to the Korg M1 in particular, thanks to working with Richard Mowatt when he was composing for the band Emission in the 1990s. He could make that affordable workstation do things that made my head spin.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve heard the Korg M1. Its versatility and simplicity meant that it was picked up by musicians and studios large and small, and it didn’t take long for the sounds to start appearing in the charts. Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ popularized the M1’s now-legendary “Piano 8” preset, making it an instant legend in house music circles (along with the similarly ubiquitous “Piano 16”), while “Organ 02” was used liberally in Robin S’s ‘Show Me Love’, a track that’s currently doing the rounds thanks to Kid Ink and Chris Brown’s ratchet rework. The preset sound that everyone can really identify however is “SlapBass”, which producer Jonathan Wolff used to create the Seinfeld theme – thanks for that, man.