I am actually very excited about joining this music discussion site. I got started because of a requirement made by a professor, but I am so glad it happened because I love it and do it for fun. Here is a look at some of my thoughts to get you warmed up.
One of my favorite songs of all time has to be "Take on Me" by the Norwegian band a-ha. This song is a classic that can always be enjoyed while driving down the road with the convertible top down, or at a bar with friends, everyone singing along and trying with all of their might to hit the high note (E5). “Take on Me” is a synthpop song, that is in the key of A major and includes instrumentation from acoustic guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers, along with some amazing vocals that really brings the house down. This song is not only famous for its billboard glory in the UK and in the United States in November of 1985, but the song has a lot more historical significance than meets the eye.
“Take on Me” started a new era of music in the late 1970s and 1980s called synthpop. A song falls into this genre when the major instrument is the synthesizer. A large amount of the popular music in the industrialized world became strongly built from electronic instruments, which lent itself to its own unique style and pattern in many pieces, but the synthesizer, the Yamaha DX7 in the case of “Take on Me” would have never been possible if it were not for the musicians and professors that first started the electronic music movement.
Music from the early to mid 1900s such as musique concrete, and composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen made electronic music possible, as they were true pioneers of the science and capabilities of waveform, frequency, and computer interaction with music. The big, expensive, and quite often complex instruments that were used by Stockhausen limited the movement and popularity of electronic music around the world. This problem was remedied with the invention of the synthesizer, which then started to find its way into performances in rock bands, notably the Beatles. In the 1960s, the Moog synthesizer started to make its way onto the stage as a novel sound and for many hot artists such as Wendy Carlos. The synthesizer and the new synthpop sound died off in the late 80s and throughout the 90s, however there has been quite the come- back in the new millennium. Big groups such as The Postal Service, The Killers, and as of recently, Owl City, whose number 1 single “fireflies”, has brought the synthesizer back to the stage to entertain the ears of millions.
Now when you go to the next dance party that is happening at the local club and everyone is screaming out the words to “Take on Me” and jumping around having the time of their lives, you will think about the song a little differently. The jumpy melody that the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer gives to the song is recognizable by any party-goer, and that sound was made possible by the passionate musicians and experimental instruments that preceded the DX7. I don’t know that partying would be the same without the synthesizer and the capabilities that it provided to the music industry, allowing for continued growth and experimentation in the industry for years to come.