Synthwave is an electronic music genre that emerged in the late 2000s and became popular in the 2010s. It is characterized by a retro-futuristic sound that draws inspiration from 1980s pop culture, particularly action and science fiction movies, video games, and television shows. Synthwave is often associated with neon lights, futuristic cityscapes, and nostalgic imagery that evoke a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.
Synthwave is an electronic music genre that emerged in the mid-2000s. It is characterized by its heavy use of synthesizers and nostalgic sounds reminiscent of 1980s pop culture. Synthwave is often associated with retrofuturism, cyberpunk, and neon aesthetics, reflected in its album artwork and music videos.
Today, synthwave has evolved into a global phenomenon with a dedicated fan base that spans the world. It has inspired a new generation of musicians and artists who continue to push the boundaries of the genre and explore new sonic territories. Whether you’re a fan of electronic music or simply looking for a new musical experience, synthwave is a genre worth exploring.
Table of Contents
- What is Synthwave Music?
- History of Synthwave Music
- Characteristics of Synthwave Music
- Subgenres of Synthwave Music
- Popularity of Synthwave Music
- Final Thoughts on Synthwave Music
What is Synthwave Music?
Synthwave music is typically produced using analog and digital synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments. It features a distinctive sound that combines elements of electronic dance music (EDM), new wave, and 1980s pop music. Synthwave tracks often have a driving beat, catchy melodies, and atmospheric soundscapes that create a cinematic and immersive listening experience.
The genre draws inspiration from 1980s film soundtracks, video game music, and pop songs. Synthwave artists often use vintage synthesizers and drum machines to create music, giving it a distinctive analog sound that sets it apart from other electronic genres. The music is often instrumental, although some artists incorporate vocals into their tracks.
Synthwave has gained a large following in recent years, with many artists and fans embracing the genre’s nostalgic and futuristic vibes. The genre has also influenced other forms of media, including film, television, and video games. Synthwave has been used in the soundtracks of popular shows like Stranger Things and movies like Drive, and it has also been featured in numerous video games.
History of Synthwave Music
Origins of Synthwave Music
Synthwave music is a genre that emerged in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It is heavily inspired by the music and aesthetics of the 1980s, particularly the popular electronic music during that time. Synthwave music is characterized by its use of vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments to create a nostalgic and futuristic sound.
The origins of synthwave music can be traced back to the French house scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s. French producers such as Daft Punk, Justice, and Kavinsky were heavily influenced by the music of the 1980s and incorporated elements of it into their music. Kavinsky’s 2010 album “OutRun” is considered by many to be the first true synthwave album.
Evolution of Synthwave Music
Since its inception, synthwave music has evolved and diversified. While the genre’s roots are firmly planted in the 1980s, many artists have incorporated elements of other genres into their music. Some artists have added rock, metal, or hip-hop elements to their synthwave tracks, while others have incorporated ambient or experimental music elements.
One of the most notable sub-genres of synthwave music is “outrun,” which comes from Kavinsky’s album. Outrun music is characterized by its fast-paced, driving rhythms and heavy use of synthesizers and other electronic instruments. Another sub-genre is “retrowave”, characterized by its slower, more atmospheric soundscapes.
In recent years, synthwave music has gained a significant following, particularly among fans of retro and nostalgia culture. The genre has also been featured in several films, television shows, and video games, further cementing its place in popular culture.
Characteristics of Synthwave Music
Synthwave music emerged in the late 2000s, and various artists have influenced it from the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the most influential artists include Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk. These artists were pioneers of electronic music and heavily influenced the creation of the synthwave genre.
Synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments characterize synthwave music. The music is often instrumental and has a nostalgic, retro-futuristic feel. The tempo is usually between 80 and 120 beats per minute, and the music often features arpeggiated synths, electric pianos, and gated reverb drums. The melodies are often simple and repetitive, focusing on creating an atmospheric and immersive experience for the listener.
The visual elements of synthwave music are just as important as the musical elements. The genre is heavily impacted by 1980s and 1990s pop culture, focusing on retro-futuristic aesthetics. The artwork for synthwave albums often features neon colors, grid patterns, and images of cars, palm trees, and sunsets. The music videos for synthwave songs often feature VHS-style visual effects, retro video game graphics, and footage from 1980s movies. Overall, synthwave music is a unique genre that combines nostalgic elements from the past with futuristic elements from the present. It has gained a dedicated following over the years, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
Subgenres of Synthwave Music
Dark Synthwave is a subgenre of Synthwave that is characterized by its moody and ominous atmosphere. It often features heavy and distorted synthesizers, pounding drums, and haunting melodies. Horror movies, cyberpunk, and dystopian themes inspire the music. Some of the most popular artists in this subgenre are Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, and Gost.
Chillwave, also known as Retrowave, is a subgenre of Synthwave characterized by its relaxed and dreamy atmosphere. It often features smooth and mellow synthesizers, soft beats, and nostalgic melodies. The music is inspired by 80s pop culture, retro video games, and summer vibes. Some of the most popular artists in this subgenre are Com Truise, Mitch Murder, and FM-84.
Retrowave is a subgenre of Synthwave characterized by its upbeat and energetic atmosphere. It often features fast and catchy synthesizers, driving beats, and optimistic melodies. 80s action movies, arcade games, and neon aesthetics inspire the music. Some of the most popular artists in this subgenre are The Midnight, Timecop1983, and Gunship.
Overall, the Synthwave genre has many subgenres that offer a diverse range of sounds and styles. Whether you prefer dark and moody music or upbeat and energetic music, there is a subgenre of Synthwave that will suit your taste.
Popularity of Synthwave Music
Synthwave music has grown in popularity over the years, with many people drawn to its unique sound and nostalgic feel. The genre has gained a significant following, particularly among younger generations, who appreciate the retro-futuristic sound and aesthetic.
Impact on Pop Culture
The rise of synthwave music has had a noticeable impact on pop culture. The genre’s distinctive sound has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and video games, helping to bring it to a wider audience. Synthwave has also influenced fashion, with many people adopting the retro-futuristic style associated with the genre.
One notable example of synthwave’s impact on pop culture is the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. The show’s iconic opening theme, composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the band S U R V I V E, is a prime example of synthwave music. The show’s popularity has helped to bring synthwave to a mainstream audience, leading to a surge in interest in the genre.
Future of Synthwave Music
The future of synthwave music looks bright, with many artists continuing to push the boundaries of the genre. While the sound is rooted in the 80s, many artists are experimenting with new sounds and incorporating modern elements into their music.
One trend that has emerged in recent years is the fusion of synthwave with other genres, such as metal and hip-hop. This has led to new subgenres, such as synthwave metal and synthwave rap, gaining popularity among fans.
Overall, the future of synthwave music looks promising, with many talented artists continuing to push the genre forward and attract new fans.
Final Thoughts on Synthwave Music
Synthwave music has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It’s gained popularity among younger and older generations thanks to its unique sound and nostalgic feel. The genre continues to evolve as more artists experiment with new sounds and fusions of different genres, leading to exciting subgenres such as synthwave metal and synthwave rap.
As interest in the genre continues to grow, we can expect even more innovation from talented synthwave producers in the future.
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