Already 150 years ago some people had started to experiment with electronically produced music, and in 1928 Léon Theremin made the theremin
But it was not until the 1950s it began more seriously.
For example there was a studio built in Köln, Germany, only for this purpose.
The first synthesizer was built at RCA, USA in 1955.
The synthesizers made in this early time were however very expensive and also very hard to handle.
In the 1960s the first really useful synthesizers were made, for example by Bob Moog
and Don Buchla
Bob Moog is the most legendary of the synthesizer producers with synthesizers like the Minimoog, which has been much used by many musicians.
In the 1970s the production of synthesizers started in a larger scale.
The first synthesizers were analogue, but in the early 1980s they made digital synthesizers, which can be connected to each other with MIDI, which in turn now is present also in personal computers.
Sometimes the different techniques are combined.
In the mid 1960s some already famous musicians started to use synthesizers, for example Beach Boys
, but it still didn't change their music very much.
In 1968 the first synthesizer only record was released, "Switched On Bach" with Wendy Carlos
It was music of Bach played on a Moog synthesizer.
In Germany the experimental band Organisation was formed in 1968. They changed their name to Kraftwerk
At this time they played a disharmonious, but innovative, music called krautrock
They released three albums in Germany in the first years of the 1970s.
Their music was getting more rhythmical and easier to understand.
In 1974 they released their international debut "Autobahn", which was kind of a breakthrough.
It's a twenty minutes long car drive accompanied by synthesizers and sound effects.
They continued to make this kind of music and they have released seven albums since then.
They were style-forming for the synthpop.
In 1968 Jean-Michel Jarre
from France, also began to work with electronic music.
For example he combined opera with synthesizers and this attracted some attention in 1972.
His first real album "Oxygene" was released in 1976, and it became a success.
He plays instrumental electronic music inspired by both classical music and experimental music.
On most of his albums he has one tune that is a little more like usual synthpop.
In 1981 he was the first western pop musician to have live performances in China.
In 1984 he recorded the album "Zoolook". On this album there were samples from about thirty different languages from all over the world.
In 1986 he had planned to make the first recording of music played in space. The astronaut and saxophonist Ron McNair was going to play with him from the spaceship Challenger.
However, there was an accident, Challenger exploded right after the lift off and that recording couldn't be done.
Jarre has had very spectacular live performances with about one million people in the audience in France, USA and Russia.
Some other musicians that used synthesizers a lot quite early were
In the end of the 1970s there appeared many artists, especially in England, who used synthesizer as their main instrument.
For example Ultravox
The Human League
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Some of those were very inspired by Kraftwerk.
In the beginning of the 1980s Depeche Mode
They played a happy and naive sort of synthpop, like their hit single "Just Can't Get Enough" in 1981, until Vince Clarke left the band to form Yazoo
and later Erasure
Depeche Mode's music then gradually became more melancholic and dark.
Other English bands that started to release records around 1981 were
Tears For Fears
These bands played some sort of synthpop, but they also used other instruments.
From Canada came Rational Youth
and from Sweden came Adolphson & Falk
Around 1984 there came synthpop artists like
and the German band
Other examples of synthpop bands from the 1980s are
Men Without Hats
Around 1984 there also came a new type of pop-music called
with many Italian artists like
and German like
Eurodisco is also based upon synthesizers and it can often be hard to separate from synthpop.
The music of Pet Shop Boys
was first inspired by eurodisco.
In 1986 the status of synthpop was weakened and since then only music that is very much based upon synthesizers is called synthpop.
The synthesizer continued to be a very important instrument within the pop-music.
Eurodisco came to England and the producer team
They produced records for very many artists, like
Dead Or Alive
Around 1987 the house
music came to England.
It originally came from Chicago (e.g. Frankie Knuckles
), where it had started a few years earlier.
House is synthesizer based, often monotone, dance music with sound effects.
Around 1991 the techno
music came to Belgium and the Netherlands.
It originally came from Detroit, where it been played since the mid 1980s (e.g. Derrick May
Techno is also synthesizer based dance music, but often heavier and darker than house music.
From Germany came U96
Around 1992 the eurodisco came back from Germany. It had changed a bit in style though and was now called eurodance
The music was based upon synthesizer melodies, rap and simple choruses. Eurodance was often called only "dance".
Sista Mannen På Jorden
This Fish Needs A Bike
are four great Swedish synthpop bands.
Bodies Without Organs
are a few more examples of Swedish synthpop bands.