Forbes Magazine has noticed the return of the analogue synthesiser. I’ve seen a lot of people buying old and rebuilding; I wasn’t aware how many of the classics were back in or about to return to production.
Korg MS-20 (courtesy Wikipedia)
There seems to be some idea floating out there – and certainly in that Forbes article – that it’s a matter of rejecting digital, with it’s an implication that it’s some sort of Overdue Retreat From False Progress, and similar foolishness.
That’s not just wrong, it’s stupid. It’s the kind of derpitude written for people who don’t understand a subject and are wearing their late-middle-age everything-was-better-in-my-day nostalgia crap goggles.
Never wear those.
But something real is happening: a recognition that these were interesting and unique instruments in their own rights, and that new “versions” of the instrumental idea are not the instrumental idea. Just as the successors of the lute were not lute version 2.0, the successors of these synths are are not these instruments, version 2.0. They’re new instruments, with their own merits and flaws.
The technology model of continuous improvement doesn’t apply to everything, no matter how hard you try.
Similarly, just as MIDI violin doesn’t preempt real violin, emulations of the actual instrument – while useful, I’m a huge fan of the Animoog implementation on my iPad – do not always replace the actual instrument.
Particularly not with players. Not with the musicians. All of these things have their own physicalities, and for a lot of players – like me – that’s important. There are tens of thousands of bass guitars out there; there are a few I love. There are far fewer Irish Bouzoukis out there; and there are two, so far, I love. Part of that’s the sound; part of that is the physicality. It all matters.
I’m glad that’s finally being recognised for these classic analogue subtractive synths. The recognition that they are unique instruments, of a kind and a type, and of value not as a step to something else, but to themselves, and their unique sounds – it’s long overdue. Returning them to production is no more some kind of reactionary step backwards than is continuing to produce fiddles.
And I’m all for it. Welcome back to the fold, subtractive synths. We missed you.