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Designing Software Synthesizer Plug-Ins in C++ by Will Pirkle

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Chapter 1Synthesizer Fundamentals

The synthesizer is usually defined vaguely as an electronic musical instrument that produces and controls sounds. When discussing this with some colleagues, we agreed that the electronic dependency of this definition might be constraining. Why couldn’t the didgeridoo or the Jew’s harp be considered synthesizers? In fact, might not any instrument other than the human voice be a synthesizer? Most consider the American inventor Thaddeus Cahill to be the inventor of the modern synthesizer. In 1897, he applied for a patent for his Telharmonium or Dynamophone, a 200-ton instrument that used steam powered electric generators to synthesize sinusoids—it was even polyphonic (capable of playing more than one note at a time). ...

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