First there was the harpsichord, then came the piano, and eventually technology evolved to the point where the keyboard could make electronic sounds limited only by the imagination. Keyboard players became synth players, tapping into a whole new level of creativity.
Let’s take a look at some of the keyboard wizards of the past and celebrate some of the greatest synth players of all time.
It’s impossible to have a discussion about keyboard players (especially about the greatest synth players of all time) and not mention Rick Wakeman. The Yes keyboard master is a polarizing figure—you either love his playing or you can’t stand it—but there’s no denying that he opened the door for synth players around the world to explore their wildest sonic dreams and use all the musical chops at their disposal. His solo albums, including the popular Journey to the Centre of the Earth, are undeniable landmarks in progressive synth music.
The musician’s musician, Joe Zawinul was a mainstay of the progressive jazz/rock fusion collective, Weather Report. His musical knowledge seemed unsurpassed, and he sounded comfortable in every style one could throw at him. And throw they did—improvisation was the name of Weather Report’s game, and Zawinul held his own with some of the best musicians ever to manipulate pitch and rhythm like Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and Peter Erskine. It helps that Zawinul played with Miles Davis before Weather Report. He passed away in 2007.
The mononymous keyboard player known as Vangelis (his full name is Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, but maybe you can understand why he chose just the one name for his professional moniker) is a different kind of synth master. His strength lay in film scores, and his music helped create some of the most iconic and memorable moments in cinematic history. His score for Chariots of Fire not only garnered an Academy Award for the Greek composer but also cracked the Billboard Hot 100. His brooding, dark score for the original Blade Runner film helped make it a cult classic that inspired a sequel 35 years after the original was released.
The funkiest synth player ever to descend from the Mothership has to be Parliament-Funkadelic founding member Bernie Worrell. He wrote his first piano concerto at age eight and trained at Juilliard as a kid. He then went on to play with the Talking Heads and founded the funkiest music group in history—a group whose music still clogs the dance floor every time it’s played. Whether he’s putting his voice on the Moog synth or acting as an arranger or producer on one of the hundreds of projects he’s been a part of in his illustrious career, his influence runs deeper than anyone can fathom.
Whether you’re looking to build your own synth or beef up your keytar to become an even greater keyboard wizard, visit Devine’s Electronics Authorized Radio Shack Dealer today for all the parts and expert advice you need.
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This post was written by Writer