Music and the Synthesiser

  • Author: Bruce Graham
  • Published by Argus Books Ltd.
  • Price £4.25 

The unfortunate thing for anybody writing a book concerning synthesisers is, that by the time the research is completed, the manuscript edited and then published, some parts of the book become out of date. This is what has happened to Music And The Synthesiser, not only has the author taken his base-line from synthesisers that are not readily available and purchased on the open market but he has neglected the Japanese syndrome which was quite apparent and increasing when he researched this project. If, as Mr Graham implies the book is ‘written with the beginner in mind’ the transition of relating his ideas to those instruments that a virgin synthesist could understand yet afford would be a very tedious process.   

That is not to say however, that this manual is without its merits. The author glides through the history and the explanations of the synthesiser with comparativeease. Hethen begins to develop further the basic elements of synthesis and their physical relationships. When advancing to the chapter regarding Patching, Signals, Voltage Control and Notation, we are attaining a much higher level than proposed, mainly because there are no synthesisers commercially available which use this type of pin patching, unless second hand. In additionto this, the synthesiser notation used is not seen in today’s owners manuals and setting charts, though the explanation of modules in the next chapter seems useful. Mr Graham writesalsoon peripheral units, the use of tape recorders with a synthesiser, this being an extremely important and viable concept today and a helping hand tothe newcomer in synthesis. The remainingchaptersare all useful in guiding the beginner and intermediate in relating electronics to musical form. Music And The Synthesiser isa good guide but not mentor, theexplanations are valid, healthy and correct, yet the author lets himself down terribly in his glossary, which should be one of the most important parts of a book such as this, when he states that a flanger is ‘an electronic phaser’.

This review appeared in EM & Magazine march 1983, written by Vince S. Hill.