“Jeu” (synthesizer piece)

Synthesizer… The word evokes very different pictures in different minds. I have several synthesizer-crazy friends but I also know folks who have a very cold attitude towards it. For them a synthesizer is something plastic, un-organic, artificial, not a “real” instrument. I could certainly respect that if they added that for them a car is not a real means of transportation, compared with horse and carriage. But they almost never say that.

If I, a self-styled “vanguard nostalgian”, can accept that we live in an electronic world, maybe music listeners in general can accept that too? Besides, a synthesizer is not an instrument.

— What?

A violin is an instrument, or a piano or a xylophone. We know how these instruments sound. But we don´t know how a synthesizer sounds.

— Why?

Because it can sound like a violin or piano or xylophone (or saxophone), plus hundreds of other traditional instruments. It can imitate them (called imitative synthesis), but it can also sound totally different from them. In other words, the synth is a chameleon. Or, in a way, an orchestra.

This is not an instrument.
This is not an instrument.

For me personally the synth is connected to a perhaps banal association; outer space. Leaving earth, moving among the stars, novas and galaxies. Outer space is connected with inner space, so the synth moves both outward and inward.

But I admit that it is too often used as the Poor Man´s Pseudo-Orchestra, or just as an awful string-machine.

Anyway, I have fooled around A LOT with the synthesizer, have written entire compositions (even an opera) around its “orchestra”.

What follows here is a small bagatelle that I wrote for a competition by synth manufacturer Roland. I didn´t win anything. I suppose the fact that my piece was done entirely on a Prophet [competitor brand] didn´t help.

When I listen to it now, some 30 years later, I hear — besides the obvious playfulness of it — one of the main “themes” or obsessions of my life (especially in the middle section): the desire for a weightless existence. Ah, to soar like a bird!

CREDITS: one synth (Prophet 600), two hands (no sequencer), multitrack recorder. Engineer: Dagge Lundqvist of Trettioåriga kriget, Adolphson & Falk etc. fame.

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