Dear SSD, for the purpose of an instructional video about analog synthesis, I am looking for musical examples that make use of analog substractive synthesis in an iconic way. JM Jarre, Kraftwerk, Messiaen, Herbie Hancock, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga... Such artists are in my list but I count on your collective brain to help me expand it ! All musical styles welcome. Thanks.

2 Answers 2


You can cross Lady Gaga off your list! Utter sheep and nothing original. And Messiaen didn't use substractive synthesis.

The obvious ones are:

  • Walter/Wendy Carlos (Switched on Bach)
  • Vangelis (highest profile being Chariots of Fire & Blade Runner soundtracks)
  • Stevie Wonder, esp his collaborations with TONTO
  • ELP (Lucky Man)
  • The Beatles (Here Comes The Sun)
  • Erasure's "Chorus" and Depeche Mode's "Violator" are both benchmark classics.
  • If you are considering Messiaen then you should also throw in The Beach Boys (Good Vibrations) and Joe Meek/The Tornados "Telstar", but none of these are strictly subtractive synthesis.

There's obviously a LOT more.

  • Thanks analoghell. Don't you think the ondes Martenot used by Olivier Messiaen in many pieces (like "Turangalila symphonie") is an analog synthetizer ? Jul 15, 2012 at 12:54
  • yes, the Ondes Martenot is of course analog but it's not a subtractive synthesiser, as per your question. Same goes for the Tannerin on Good Vibrations.
    – analoghell
    Jul 17, 2012 at 22:49

In the Industrial and EBM-scene we have DAF and Nitzer Ebb being very iconic having a sound based in pretty pure analogue synthesis. Though also avid users of the Emulator line of samplers, Front 242 too are known to us a lot of subtractive synthesis in a pretty unique way, though it's quite frankly a mixture between analoge waveforms and PCM-wave-based. And of course the samples :-)

  • Thanks Christian. I am not familiar with Industrial. What do you call EBM ? (Currently enjoying/discovering Front 242;-). Jul 15, 2012 at 12:56
  • @Xavier: De nada :-) Industrial music is groups like Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Skinny Puppy, Laibach, Einstürzende Neubauten, Das Ich, and such. A very hard and often dissonant collection of styles that can be very different from each other. EBM, Electronic Body Music, is a derivate from Industrial that focused more on beat and being dance-able. Front 242 is considered the founder of the style, though Kraftwerk was first to coin the word :-) Jul 16, 2012 at 8:44

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