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The History Of FM Synthesis

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The history of fm synthesis and the birth of the first digital mass market synthesizer.

The most obvious starting point to explore fm synthesis would be the father of fm synthesis John M. Chowning.

He discovered fm synthesis in 1967. It was a whole new way of of generating musically interesting sounds with rich sounding timbres which was also able to simulate a large number of musical sounds including the singing voice and also sounds which emphasize complex attack transients such as electric pianos, bells and other percussive instruments. Such sounds were quite tricky to produce on a classic analogue synthesizers due to instability and frequency drifting of classical analogue voltage controlled oscillators.

This eventually led to the first mass market digital Fm synthesizer, the DX7 which changed the history of music forever. Its main advantage was that it was affordable and much more precise and stable due to its digital nature than analogue synthesizers which were ruling the world of electronic instruments back then.

It was used in numerous pop, rock and jazz records in 80s and early 90s. And although the sounds of that are now getting outdated there is still much to explore with modern based fm synths such as NI FM8.

With its expanded features it offers great deal of new possibilities for modern edge sound design but can also serve as a great emulation of retro sounds of golden DX7 era.

Find out more about the history of FM Synths

Interview With John Chowning 
What is FM Synthesis

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