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Mark II
All in American style, the RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer was improved and named the RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer Mark II. The new Mark II had more facilities such as expanded tone generating and a ten-octave range. New oscillators produced sawtooth and triangular waves and white noise. White Noise is signal that contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any centre frequency. It is used within electronic music directly or as input filter for other noise signals. In the synthesizers of today it is used as a signal to create the sound of cymbals. Also new in the Mark II was a frequency shifter, that was controlled by a paper tape reader.

The first Moog Synthesizer was a revolution in sound. Robert Moog (1957-2005) had already worked with Vladimir Ussachevsky on a VCO envelop generator (An envelope generator makes an audio signal that smoothly rises and falls as if to control the loudness of a musical note) for the Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center. Robert Moog was not the only person who was developing synthesizers; Donald Buchla (US) and Paul Ketoff (Italy) had made commercially vailable machines as well. But the Moog synthesizers were more sophisticated and relevant because lots of musicians were consulted about their needs. Three important items were controlled by Moog: size, stability and control. Moog built as well as a Modular a Performance synthesizer. Both were the most used instruments in electronic studios from the late sixties on. The first prototype was developed with electronic music composer Herbert Deutsch (1932).
In 1966 the first Moog was sold, and after that more followed. But few people knew how to handle the instrument properly. It was used on some occasions and for records such as Zodiac Cosmic Sounds, Electronic Hair Pieces and Music for Sensuous Lovers. It’s specifically mentioned in the inner sleeve of Frank Zappa’s record Uncle Meat (1967).

Walter & Wendy and Bach
The first success came with the record by Walter Carlos (1939): Switched on Bach (1968). Walter (who became Wendy) worked at the Columbia Princeton Center and had the idea to use the new instrument for beautiful music and not only ugly (the experimental electronic music) music. Wendy didn’t use the Mark II but was helping Moog out promoting his synthesizer. Her record Switched on Bach became the record associated with the Moog synthesizer. It was a hit record, the first top selling classical (!) album that sold over 500.000 copies.

Around 1965 the Buchla synthesizer was developed in the San Francisco Tape Music Center. It was named after engineer Donald Buchla (1937). Just as Moog Buchla build a modular system (the 100 series), based on the voltage controlled system. The most important innovation was the sequencer, which was built into the Buchla 100. Morton Subotnick used the new machine in his composition Silver Apples of the Moon (1967); an important step forward in composition. The Buchla synthesizers were often used in studios. Buchla kept up with the Moog's building the Buchla 200 (1970) and the Electronic Music Box. In the eighties Buchla designed the Thunder & Lightning electronic instruments, all of which were ready to use a new development in music, MIDI (MIDI could link various instruments).

England had its own popular machine: the EMS synthesizer. The Electronic Music Studios (EMS) were built around 1969 by Peter Zinovieff, Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. The first model was named the Putney, the second VCS3. The machine was a little bit cheaper than the mini-moog but had the same facilities. The VCS3 became very popular amongst groups and people such as  Pink Floyd (D on the famous Dark Side of the Moon), Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Jean –Michel Jarre and Tim Blake. EMS also produced a modular system, the EMS 100 and a very handy model, the Synthi A, which was built into a compact attaché case.

After the success with the Moog, Japanese music factories like Korg and Yamaha started to produce their own versions.

RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer Mark II
with paper tape readers

Moog Modular Synthesizer (1970)

Switched on Bach - with Moog!

Buchla 100 - detail