Why do musicians choose synthesizers over real instruments?

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ironpony
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31 Aug 2020, 10:55 pm

It just seems strange to me in this day and age when you can purchase instrument samples that are the real recordings of those instruments? Why still choose to use synths?



Fnord
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01 Sep 2020, 7:57 am

It's easier for one person to compose complex musical pieces than to learn many instruments.


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ironpony
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01 Sep 2020, 12:34 pm

But you can just use pre-recorded samples of real instruments instead of learning how to play them. So why not just use those instead of synthesizers?



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01 Sep 2020, 12:39 pm

ironpony wrote:
But you can just use pre-recorded samples of real instruments instead of learning how to play them. So why not just use those instead of synthesizers?
Simplicity.  I know how to play a keyboard, but I do not know how to play most brass, stringed, or woodwind instruments; so if I want to produce the sound of a flute, I just select the "Flute" stop (or voice) and play the keyboard -- instant flute!


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ironpony
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01 Sep 2020, 4:16 pm

Oh okay that makes sense though, but what I mean is, why do artists choose sounds on their synthesizers and keyboards that are not the sounds of real instruments at all? Why make it sound more fake than it needs to be?



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01 Sep 2020, 4:25 pm

ironpony wrote:
Oh okay that makes sense though, but what I mean is, why do artists choose sounds on their synthesizers and keyboards that are not the sounds of real instruments at all? Why make it sound more fake than it needs to be?
Variety.  To do something different.  While I know that for many aspies, hearing the same songs played the same way over and over again is a comfortable routine, and any variation can induce anxiety.  For others, constantly seeking new sounds is part of their comforting routine.


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ironpony
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01 Sep 2020, 4:32 pm

Oh okay, but it seems some artists will stick to non-instrumental sounds on their keyboards only, which I don't understand. Then none of it sounds like any real instruments, as oppose to mixing it up.



Kiprobalhato
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01 Sep 2020, 5:50 pm

electronic music is it's own genre. it does not need to sound like a physical instrument to be beautiful


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thewrll
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01 Sep 2020, 6:36 pm

Kiprobalhato wrote:
electronic music is it's own genre. it does not need to sound like a physical instrument to be beautiful


Yeah and the other problem is labeling it as not a real instrument, really, wtf.


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01 Sep 2020, 7:07 pm

For one thing, some synthesizer sounds do not sound like fake versions of real instruments at all but still sound good and can add something unique. And even those sounds that are designed to sound like real instruments but still sound fake can be good in their own way - I mean for better or worse fake string and horn sounds were used a lot in the 80's so if someone wants to make a track with an 80's feel, its a good choice to use them.



redrobin62
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01 Sep 2020, 7:44 pm

As a musician who've recorded and released songs using real instruments and synthesizers, I'd agree each of them have their own place. I wouldn't use a real drumset, for instance, in an EDM track especially since the genre requires I stick to the well-known 808 or 909 drum sounds. Similarly, i wouldn't use a synth guitar to play in a rock, ska or reggae song. Human ears would be able to tell the difference right away and know something was amiss. And again, there are bands (The Who, Europe, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Janet Jackson, Lacuna Coil and many others) who mix synths with real sounds. It's also interesting to note that some Viking metal bands, of all genres, do this, too. Bands like Wolfchant and Moonsorrow come to mind.



ironpony
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01 Sep 2020, 7:59 pm

Oh okay. It's just that some artists, stick to synth only, and will not branch out of that repertroire of sounds at all. So I guess it just feels limiting in sound, and you wonder why they do that. I do agree that some synth sounds have their place, to make it a rule that your entire repertroire must be synth and you cannot go outside of it, just seems limiting to me.



thewrll
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02 Sep 2020, 1:21 am

ironpony wrote:
Oh okay. It's just that some artists, stick to synth only, and will not branch out of that repertroire of sounds at all. So I guess it just feels limiting in sound, and you wonder why they do that. I do agree that some synth sounds have their place, to make it a rule that your entire repertroire must be synth and you cannot go outside of it, just seems limiting to me.


Could say the same for those who never try synth.


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ironpony
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02 Sep 2020, 2:36 am

Yep that's very true. Well what about this musical score to the movie Cyborg:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVb2IH7fS5k&t=2172s

The entire score is synthesizers from what I can tell. However, at 35:52 into the score, I hear a piccolo, and it sounds like a real piccolo. Unless I missed something, I'm pretty sure this may be the only non-synth instrument in almost the entire score.

So I am wondering, why is it that the composer had a synth only rule, accept for the piccolo. That gets a pass. Isn't that a strange way of thinking as a composer, or no?



auntblabby
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02 Sep 2020, 4:25 am

chances are it is a sampled piccolo if anything. recording real instruments requires a real [expensive] studio space and real microphones and cabling and expert technician to make everything record right. a sample or a synth can just plug into a puter, no studio required.



nadroJ
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02 Sep 2020, 4:49 am

Regarding synthesizers;

A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates infinite audio signals. Unlike a wind or string instrument, the audio data can be manipulated from the original sample programmed into the machine, rather than just the production of organic waveforms from a primary instrument. A flute can make a sound with the notes, but the micro-data like the Feedback, Time of Delay, Cut-off can't be effected digitally.

Flute Sound: Wooooooooooooooooooo.

Synthesizer: ((Input Sample Sound: WOOOOOoooooo....: Rate of Wah Wah [[1] second:[1] second of Wah {High} : Wah {Low}, shift to [5] seconds:[5] seconds of Wah {High} : Wah {Low}], rate of echo [delay time - [0.5] seconds to [0.5] seconds of decay factor] and waveform output [square, triangle, wave] , time rate of [square, triangle, wave//[1] second to lowest frequency to [1] second to highest frequency] Delay [delay time; [2] seconds at the frequency of [2] echo's, pitch change per echo; [0.3] seconds per semitone] , mono or stereo :Output Sound...ooooooo)) as an example, which effects the sound of the original sample programmed into the device.

Like this: https://vocaroo.com/l8n113e8RmA

OR simplified in an organic synth, where it's just loads of complex electronic data telepathically communicating to make a sound [LFO: rate, integration To VCF: Cut off To Delay: Time and feedback]

And waveforms that can be changed:

Image

Also they just make nice sounds, I can understand why Phycadelic musicians use them, they sound very spacey and express the dream world in sound.