Computer sound - From synthesizers to sound cards

The first electric instruments were built in about the year 1900, for example the huge telharmonium or dynamophone from Thaddeus Cahill. It was not a success but its principle of rotating electromagnetic generators was to become world famous a few decades later in the Hammond organ.

Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk

The sine wave and noise generators, filters and rectifier modulators of experimental electronic music at the beginning of the 1950s were combined in convenient analog music synthesizers at the end of the 1960s. Electronic versions of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the electronic sound effects of famous groups such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Pink Floyd, and the robotlike aesthetic minimalism of the German group Kraftwerk put electronic music instruments on the road to international success.


The famous Fairlight CMI was the original music computer, an instrument that could synthesize, store, modify and control sounds on a purely digital basis. The Fairlight anticipated many successful approaches to electronic music, which caused a furore in the 1980s, including the sound sampler. This can store any kinds of sound digitally, no matter whether voice, instrumental tones or environmental noises, so that they can be used for music.


The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), which was introduced in 1981 and became an international standard for the exchange of music control data between instruments and computers, proved to be a revolution in music technology. Versatile sequencer and composer programs enable complete compositions and arrangements to be recorded, input and edited, composed, printed and played.

Any normal PC can now be used for this type of application. A home studio suffices for the creation of entire musical productions which can then be distributed freely online