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Is it okay to regard a synthesizer as a keyboard?

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  • Is it okay to regard a synthesizer as a keyboard?

    Hey guys.

    One of my co-workers owns a Roland Juno-106 and (I think) a microKorg. Those two instruments are straight-up synthesizers.

    I understand that the definition of a synthesizer is an instrument that can generate artificial sounds using mathematical algorithms.

    However, most recording artists liberally use the terms "synthesizer" and "keyboard" in an interchangeable manner.

    I'm sure that most recording artists utilize synthesizers in order to produce their songs. But if you glance at their albums' sleeve notes, the word "keyboards" (rather than "synthesizers") appears more often.

    So here's my question-

    Is it okay to call a synthesizer (such as the microKorg or the Roland Juno-106) a keyboard?

    Thanks guys!

  • #2
    Sure. When I say I play keyboards, I mean piano, organ, synth... i.e. a variety of keyboard instruments.

    A little more controversial would be whether it is appropriate to call a rompler a synth. In the strict sense of the word, it is not really accurate, but synth also seems to have become kind of generic for any keyboard that is not being used primarily as piano or organ.

    As for whether "most recording artists utilize synthesizers in order to produce their songs,", I don't know. I guess it depends on the genre. But I think romplers (sample playback devices) are more common than true synths overall. Heck, Yamaha is the biggest keyboard manufacturer, pros use Motifs all the time, but I don't think Yamaha has made any board a purist would call a "synthesizer" since the last century.

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    • #3
      A keyboard instrument is any instrument that is played via a keyboard. So, the vast majority of synthesizers are keyboards. The ones that aren't are things like Theramins and guitar synths.

      So, yes, it's OK to call a synth a keyboard.

      On credits, they use the term because it's the most generic, covering piano, organ, harpsichord, electric piano, Clavinet, electronic piano, digital piano, monophonic analog synthesizer, polysynth (like the Juno), ROMpler, Mellotron, and others.

      For guitarists, they usually say "guitar" regardless of whether it's solid-body electric, hollow-body electric, acoustic steel string, acoustic nylon strong ("classical"), 12-string, or resophonic. One simple term covers them all.
      learjeff.net

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      • #4
        Originally posted by learjeff View Post
        .

        On credits, they use the term because it's the most generic, covering piano, organ, harpsichord, electric piano, Clavinet, electronic piano, digital piano, monophonic analog synthesizer, polysynth (like the Juno), ROMpler, Mellotron, and others.

        For guitarists, they usually say "guitar" regardless of whether it's solid-body electric, hollow-body electric, acoustic steel string, acoustic nylon strong ("classical"), 12-string, or resophonic. One simple term covers them all.
        True. Unless they are wankers.
        WeiserSoundKeyboard And Pro Audio Sales, Custom Sound Designwww.weisersound.comhttps://www.facebook.com/weisersoundweiserdav @ gmail

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        • #5
          Hey guys. OP here.

          I know a local band that's trying to independently produce its first EP. On that EP, one of the band members is credited as playing "keyboards & synthesizers".

          How can a band member be playing BOTH keyboards and synthesizers if most modern-day synthesizers are keyboard-based?


          (Edit: I've never been inside their studio.)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jericho-79 View Post
            Is it okay to call a synthesizer a keyboard?
            No! You must not or Yahweh will smite you.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jericho-79 View Post
              Hey guys. OP here.

              I know a local band that's trying to independently produce its first EP. On that EP, one of the band members is credited as playing "keyboards & synthesizers".

              How can a band member be playing BOTH keyboards and synthesizers if most modern-day synthesizers are keyboard-based?


              (Edit: I've never been inside their studio.)

              Well, you can have a synthesizer that does not have a keyboard. . . rack unit, VSTs, etc. . . so if you were listing equipment used then you might separate synthesizers and keyboards. . . seem kinda ridiculous to me though.
              Check my band: SoulPlay - > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TH9-e4FmaE
              Key Rig: Alesis Fusion 8HD; Roland A-800 Pro; Toshiba i7 laptop running Cantabile VST host with IK Multimedia Total Workstation Bundle, NI Vintage Organs, Tyrell N6, Sylenth1, XLN Addictive Keys, NI FM8; Tascam US-1641 USB MIDI/Audio Interface; 2 x RCF Art 310-A MK III series monitors.

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              • #8
                I'm weird but I hate saying I play "keyboards". I prefer to describe myself as a piano player/organ player/orchestrator because but that's too many words and of course, when you say "keyboard player" everyone knows what you are talking about. On a side note I wish I had developed more synth wizardry skills because at this point that would enhance my band's performance more than anything, given that we are doing more dance/top 40. All respect to you synth wizards out there- it's my own fault I have not learned more from you here.

                And if you call a synth a keyboard I promise not to hate you lol.
                Last edited by pinkfloydcramer61; 06-23-2014, 10:40 AM.

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                • #9
                  A keyboard has keys.

                  A synthesizer makes sounds.

                  The two can be combined, but can also be separate units.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jericho-79 View Post
                    So here's my question- Is it okay to call a synthesizer (such as the microKorg or the Roland Juno-106) a keyboard? Thanks guys!
                    It depends. In some forums, people have been flogged for less. Around here, the mods tend to be more lenient. It all depends on the circumstances. And then there are the intangibles one can never accurately account for. Is it a first offense? What about the victim? Micro-Korgs get some sympathy around here. But some other instruments...not so much. (Not mentioning any names of course) And there is always a smart a** ready to pull out an oscilloscope in the heat of any argument. Then things really start to get tense. So it's best to err on the side of caution when it comes to controversial topics like that. My view on the subject is I have no view. I play my cards close to my vest on that one...Maybe so. Maybe not.
                    Youtube , ​Murika , France

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                    • #11
                      I think that no matter you call it, the point is what you do with your gear, cause the man behind the synths/keyboards is the most important part of the sound.
                      Member of Performing Rights Society/UK

                      My music at
                      http://www.fliktrax.com/index.php/ca...sult/?q=panos+

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                      • #12
                        Two things -

                        I think sometimes when a person lists that they play keyboards and synthesizers they want to distinguish between what might be a conventional keyboard with a relatively fixed sound or group of sounds like a clavinet, piano, or organ, and a synthesizer, which can sound like nearly anything and is often used to replicate horns or strings.

                        The other is that the style of playing is different. In the early days of Pink Floyd, Rick Wright played keyboards and all but the drummer played VCS-3's but only Wright really played keyboards. The rest produced the electronic music textures, often holding down a single key and manipulating the knobs and patchbay, which many "true" synthesizer players will tell you is how you actually play a synthesizer. There are few instruments about these days that allow that level of manipulation, much of which is replicated by tweaking patches rather than actually turning oscillators on and off and whatnot.
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                        • #13
                          You could call a synthesizer a banana-avocodo smoothie if you wanted, it doesn't matter. The sound won't change.
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                          • #14
                            If the sound doesn't change, it probably isn't a synthesizer.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OPEN OCEAN View Post
                              I think that no matter you call it, the point is what you do with your gear, cause the man behind the synths/keyboards is the most important part of the sound.
                              I call mine personal vibrators; my guitars too.
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