Music History’s 8 Most Important Modular Synthesizers
From the 1959 Audio System Synth to the 1970 Arp 2500, these are the systems that have pushed electronic music forward.
Like vinyl, modular synthesizers are experiencing a major renaissance and are now major studio center pieces for many of the world’s best techno producers, like Blawan, Lady Starlight and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Today, most people think of Eurorack systems when they think of the typical modular synthesizers that these artists use. But how did we get to this point?
Eurorack wasn’t always the standard. In fact, the first modular synth built by the German engineer Harald Bode in 1959 was just a sound creation box for film and TV soundtracks, and by 1963, both Bob Moog and Don Buchla had iterated on this initial design in their respective complex commercial sound systems (known for their adoption by early synth pioneers like Wendy Carlos and Suzanne Ciani, who is featured above). In the nearly 55 years that ensued, this basic modular design has evolved in a variety of different ways thanks to the efforts of emergent companies like Serge—known for the 1972 Serge Modular—Doepfer and the software solution Max/MSP.
This article by FACT explores the eight modular synthesizers most pivotal to its evolution, from the room-filling systems of the ‘60s to the flexible systems of today. Read the piece in full here and then watch EB.tv go behind the scenes with modular synth wizard and techno artist extraordinaire Peter Van Hoesen below.