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Old Music Encyclopedia Picture     A synthesizer (or synthesiser, properly called "sound" or "music" synthesizer, and often abbreviated to "synth") is an electronic musical instrument that uses filters and tone generators to create waveforms which are then processed to generate sound. Synthesizers can closely reproduce the sound of some instruments, but many keyboard players use them for their characteristic sound.

     Synthesizers use a number of different technologies or programmed algorithms, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Among the most popular waveform synthesis techniques are subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, wavetable synthesis, frequency modulation synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, physical modeling synthesis and sample-based synthesis. Other sound synthesis methods, like subharmonic synthesis or granular synthesis, are not found in music synthesizers.

     Synthesizers are often controlled with a piano-style keyboard, leading such instruments to be referred to simply as "keyboards". Several other forms of controller have been devised to resemble violins, guitars and wind-instruments. Synthesizers without controllers are often called "modules", and can be controlled using MIDI or CV/Gate methods.


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