Synthwave is a relatively new genre of electronic music that originated from the mid 2000s and was 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 is 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 often include steady 4otf (four-on-the-floor) drum patterns, specific gated reverb snares, sharp transient kicks, sometimes acoustic drums, oscillating synthwork and basslines 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 (note that Synthwave is usually instrumental), and synths inspired by analog gear and synthesizers, produced from simple analog waves (such as the sine, triangle, square and sawtooth waves). Aesthetically, synthwave gives a retrofuturistic perspective, emulating 1980s science fiction, action, and horror media, sometimes compared to cyberpunk.
Commonly Referenced Subgenres:
- 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: the original form of synthwave with the heaviest influence from the 1980s out of any subgenre. It borrows many retro elements from '80s funk, electro and disco as well as video game and movie soundtracks from the time period.]
- Cybersynth: takes the aggressiveness of Darksynth and combines it with the cleaner and more melodic style of other Synthwave subgenres. Characterized by its futuristic sci-fi or cyberpunk aesthetic. The subgenre's name is a fusion of cyberpunk and synthwave.
|[ v • t • e ] Alphabetical List of Synthwave Songs (Genre)|