Synthwave (also called retrowave, outrun and futuresynth) is a relatively new genre of electronic music, originating from the mid 2000s, influenced by 1980s cinematic film soundtracks and video game music. It is characterized by light bass tones and a BPM between 100 and 150, often using retro sounds. It's inspired by New Wave music and usually features a darker, more somber and serious mood than Synthpop, and, as the name of the previously mentioned genre would imply, less of a pop influence. Characteristics include the use of steady 4otf (four-on-the-floor) drum patterns (exceptions exist, though; the patterns can be broken up, such as in PYLOT - "Flashbacks" and PYLOT - "Blurred Vision"), specific gated reverb snares, sharp transient kicks, sometimes acoustic drums, synthwork and basslines that can be found oscillating in double-time (8th notes) or quadruple-time (16th notes) heavy filtering, phaser and flanger effects, formant filtering, a liberal use of reverb to create ample cinematic atmospheres, percussion backing, possible bit reduction, tape saturation, heavily vocoded / "talk box" effect impacted vocals - that can be chopped and pitch-bent (in the case that they're present - most of the times, Synthwave is instrumental), synths inspired by analog gear and synthesizers, produced from simple analog waves (such as the sine, triangle, square and sawtooth waves). Tracks produced in this style can take on a wide range of tempos, but it's usually centered around 100 bpm, with outliers like PYLOT - "Locke" (80 bpm) and PYLOT - "Caine" (155 bpm)

Aesthetically, synthwave gives a retrofuturistic perspective, emulating 1980s science fiction, action, and horror media, sometimes compared to cyberpunk.


  • Chillwave: characterized by a faded or dreamy retro pop sound, escapist lyrics , psychedelic or lo-fi aesthetics, mellow vocals, low-to-moderate tempos, effects processing, and vintage synthesizers.
  • Darksynth: A heavy subgenre of Synthwave that relies more on grimy sound walls to use as musical elements. Normally, harsh compressed and filtered basses found in Neuro music are used as the bassline, as to bring out the metallic twang of the sound walls and tech influenced lead synths, while also having a clear sub to be heard in the low end of the track. Little to no percussion is used in this style as well to give it a bleak, minimalist aspect, usually only containing a kick and snare drum in a four-on-the-floor (4otf) drum pattern. Notable artists include, Carpenter Brut, Pertubator, and Gunship.
  • Outrun
  • Retro Electro: (also known as synthcoreElectroclashtech-popnouveau disco, and the new new wave) is a genre of music that fuses 1980s electro, new wave and synth-pop with 1990s techno, retro-style electropop and electronic dance music.
  • Vaporwave

[ vte ] Alphabetical List of Synthwave Songs (Genre)
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