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Ultimate Synthwave Subgenres Guide – Explore Now!

Synthwave, the genre of music that emerged in the late 2000s, has become a global phenomenon, captivating listeners with its retro-futuristic vibes. But what many people may not realize is that Synthwave is not just one homogeneous genre, but a diverse ecosystem of subgenres, each offering a distinctive flavor of the nostalgic 80s sound.

From the adrenaline-fueled beats of Outrun to the dreamy atmospheres of Dreamwave, there’s a Synthwave subgenre for every mood and taste. Whether you’re a fan of retro electro or you love the outrun aesthetics, exploring the different subgenres will open up a whole new world of Synthwave music.

Key Takeaways:

  • Synthwave is a genre of music that emerged in the late 2000s, characterized by its nostalgic and futuristic sound.
  • Synthwave has given rise to various subgenres, each offering a unique take on the genre’s sound and aesthetic.
  • Exploring different Synthwave subgenres allows listeners to discover new artists and styles within the genre.
  • Some popular Synthwave subgenres include Outrun, Dreamwave, Darkwave, Cyberpunk, and Chillwave.
  • Each subgenre within Synthwave has its own distinctive sound, drawing inspiration from different aspects of the 80s and beyond.

Quick Tips and Facts

Synthwave, a genre that originated in the late 2000s, is a nostalgic revival of the 80s synth pop sound. It is characterized by its retro-futuristic vibe, incorporating synthesizers, drum machines, and vocoders to create a distinct musical experience.

Inspired by 80s pop culture, including movies, video games, and television shows, synthwave has gained a dedicated fanbase and has influenced other genres such as pop, electronic, and rock.

The synthwave art style complements the genre perfectly, often featuring neon colors, futuristic landscapes, and nostalgic imagery that transports listeners back to the golden era of the 80s.

Key elements of a synthwave song include catchy melodies, pulsating basslines, and atmospheric soundscapes that create an immersive and captivating musical journey.

Synthwave is closely associated with two popular subgenres: outrun and retro wave. Outrun music encapsulates the fast-paced beats, driving basslines, and adventurous spirit reminiscent of 80s action movies. Retro wave, on the other hand, focuses on dreamy and atmospheric soundscapes, taking listeners on a nostalgic journey.

Whether you’re a fan of retro electro, outrun music, or retrowave styles, synthwave offers a unique and captivating experience that transports you back to the vibrant and futuristic world of the 80s.

Notable Quote:

“Synthwave is a musical time machine that takes you back to the retro-futuristic soundscape of the 80s.”
– Music Critic

Fascinating Facts:

  • Synthwave emerged in the late 2000s as a nostalgic revival of 80s synth pop.
  • Key instruments in synthwave music include synthesizers, drum machines, and vocoders.
  • The genre draws inspiration from 80s pop culture, including movies, video games, and television shows.
  • Synthwave has gained a dedicated fanbase and has influenced various mainstream genres.

Characteristics and Origins

Neon 80s music

Synthwave takes inspiration from the iconic synth pop sound of the 80s, embodying the neon-lit streets and futuristic aesthetics of that era. With its heavy use of synthesizers, drum machines, and electronic instruments, the genre brings to life a nostalgic sound that captivates listeners.

The pulsating basslines, catchy hooks, and mesmerizing melodies of synthwave transport you back in time, evoking feelings of nostalgia and reminiscence. The use of vintage synthesizers and drum machines helps recreate the iconic sound of the 80s, immersing you in a sonic landscape reminiscent of a bygone era.

But synthwave is not just about the music—it’s also about the visual experience. Synthwave embraces a retro-futuristic aesthetic that combines the best of both worlds. Neon colors, vintage technology, and futuristic cityscapes are common motifs in synthwave art, creating a visual feast that perfectly complements the music.

Synthwave draws inspiration from the 80s pop culture, taking cues from movies, video games, and television shows of the time. It creates a sense of familiarity and nostalgia, allowing fans to connect with the genre on a deeper level. The influence of 80s pop culture adds an extra layer of authenticity to the synthwave experience.

One of the defining characteristics of synthwave is its ability to create atmospheric and cinematic soundscapes. By combining elements of nostalgia and sci-fi, synthwave transports listeners to imaginary worlds filled with neon lights, futuristic landscapes, and a sense of wonder. It’s like stepping into a retro-futuristic dream.

The origins of synthwave can be traced back to the late 2000s, when a new wave of artists emerged with a mission to revive the sounds of 80s synth pop. They embraced the nostalgia of the past and added their own modern twist, giving birth to a genre that continues to captivate audiences around the world.

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Outrun vs Synthwave

A common misconception is that outrun and synthwave are the same. While they share similarities, they are distinct subgenres within the broader synthwave movement. Outrun, also known as retro electro, is a subgenre of synthwave that focuses on the fast-paced and adventurous aspects of 80s action movies. It is characterized by its energetic beats, driving basslines, and an overall sense of adrenaline. Synthwave, on the other hand, encompasses a wider range of sounds and moods, often delving into more atmospheric and nostalgic territories.

Outrun Synthwave
Fast-paced beats Diverse range of sounds and moods
Driving basslines Nostalgic and atmospheric elements
Adventurous and action-packed Broader sonic palette

Popularity and Legacy

In recent years, the synthwave genre has experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity, captivating a dedicated fanbase and making a significant impact on various aspects of pop culture. The genre’s ability to tap into the universal appeal of nostalgia is a key factor driving its widespread recognition and acclaim.

With its vintage-inspired sound and retro-futuristic aesthetic, synthwave effectively transports listeners back to the vibrant and neon-lit era of the 80s, eliciting a sense of longing for a bygone time.

The resurrection of 80s-inspired aesthetics in fashion, design, and media has further fueled the popularity of synthwave. The genre’s retro-futuristic art style perfectly aligns with the current zeitgeist, attracting a new generation of enthusiasts who are fascinated by the vibrant colors, futuristic landscapes, and nostalgia-inducing imagery characteristic of synthwave.

Moreover, synthwave’s influence has extended beyond the confines of its dedicated fanbase and seeped into mainstream music genres. Popular artists from the pop, electronic, and rock music scenes have been incorporating elements of synthwave into their songs, adding a touch of retro charm and futuristic vibes to their sound.

The atmospheric soundscapes created by synthwave have also found a home in the world of movies and video games. The genre’s immersive and evocative nature makes it the perfect choice for movie soundtracks and video game scores, amplifying the emotional impact and transporting audiences to alternate realities filled with nostalgia and sci-fi elements.

Finally, the global community of synthwave artists and fans has contributed significantly to the genre’s popularity and long-standing legacy. Platforms like Reddit, Discord, and social media have provided a space for enthusiasts to connect, share their passion, and collaborate on projects, fostering a sense of belonging and unity within the synthwave community.

Synthwave Art Style

Synthwave Art

Synthwave’s art style is an integral part of the genre’s identity, capturing the retro-futuristic aesthetics of the 80s. The visual representation of the Synthwave genre adds to the immersive experience for fans and artists alike.

One of the defining features of Synthwave art is the use of vibrant neon colors. Reminiscent of the neon signs that adorned the streets of the 80s, these bright and glowing hues invoke a sense of nostalgia and futuristic appeal.

To further enhance the futuristic atmosphere, Synthwave artwork often depicts mesmerizing futuristic cityscapes. These cityscapes are complete with towering skyscrapers, flying cars, and glowing grids, creating a visual representation of the retro-futuristic sound.

Nostalgic imagery also plays a significant role in Synthwave art. Artists often incorporate elements that bring back memories of the 80s, such as cassette tapes, VHS tapes, retro video game consoles, and classic cars. This blend of nostalgia and futurism is what makes Synthwave art so captivating.

Vaporwave, a related genre, has also had an influence on the Synthwave art style. Vaporwave is known for its use of glitch art, Roman statues, and retro computer graphics. These influences can be seen in Synthwave artwork, adding depth and variation to the visual representation of the genre.

The Synthwave art style has become synonymous with the genre, serving as a visual expression of its nostalgic and futuristic sound. By combining neon colors, futuristic cityscapes, and nostalgic imagery, Synthwave artists bring the genre to life in a visually captivating way.

What Makes a Song Synthwave?

Atmospheric soundscapes

A synthwave song is characterized by its nostalgic sound, retro-futuristic vibes, and the skilled use of synthesizers and electronic instruments. Synthwave artists masterfully blend the best elements of the past with the cutting-edge technology of the present to create a unique musical experience.

  • Synthesizers: Synthesizers are at the heart of a synthwave track, both analog and digital. These instruments produce the lush pads, sparkling arpeggios, and classic lead sounds that define the genre’s distinctive sound. They emulate the iconic synthesizers of the 80s, allowing artists to transport listeners back to that golden era of music.
  • Drum Machines: Synthwave often incorporates drum machines such as the Roland TR-808 and TR-909. These iconic machines provide the driving beats and pulsating rhythms that give synthwave its energetic and catchy vibe. The crisp and punchy drum sounds harken back to the era of drum machines, elevating the nostalgic experience.
  • Vocoders: Vocoders are a key tool in synthwave, used to create the robotic and futuristic vocal effects often heard in the genre. By combining a synthesizer with a microphone, artists blend human and machine elements, adding an extra layer of nostalgia and sci-fi atmosphere to their tracks.
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But what truly sets synthwave apart is the artful combination of these elements to craft mesmerizing, captivating compositions.

“Catchy melodies, pulsating basslines, and atmospheric soundscapes define the essence of a successful synthwave song.”

Catchy melodies: Synthwave songs are known for their infectious and memorable melodies. Influenced by the pop music of the 80s, these hooks grab listeners’ attention and transport them to a world of neon lights and nostalgic vibes.

Pulsating basslines: Powerful and driving basslines are a hallmark of synthwave. The pulsating, low-frequency sounds set the foundation for the energetic rhythm and provide a sense of forward momentum that keeps the listener engaged.

Atmospheric soundscapes: Synthwave creates immersive and atmospheric soundscapes that transport listeners to a retro-futuristic world. Through the strategic use of reverb, delay, and other effects, synthwave artists conjure up visions of sprawling cityscapes, glowing neon signs, and breathtaking vistas.

Combining these elements with meticulous craftsmanship and a deep passion for the genre, synthwave artists create music that invigorates and enchants audiences around the world.

The sequel follows in Section 7 with an exploration of the different subgenres within the synthwave genre, each with its own unique twist on the nostalgic and futuristic soundscape.

Synthwave Song Elements Description
Synthesizers Both analog and digital synthesizers produce the lush pads, classic leads, and sparkling arpeggios that define synthwave.
Drum Machines Iconic drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 provide the driving beats and pulsating rhythms in synthwave music.
Vocoders Vocoders combine a synthesizer with a microphone to create the robotic and futuristic vocal effects in synthwave tracks.
Catchy Melodies Synthwave songs are known for their infectious and memorable melodies inspired by the pop music of the 80s.
Atmospheric Soundscapes Synthwave artists use reverb, delay, and other effects to create immersive and atmospheric soundscapes.

Synthwave Subgenres

Synthwave has given rise to various subgenres, each with its own unique take on the genre’s nostalgic and futuristic sound. Let’s explore some of the most popular subgenres within the world of Synthwave:

1. Outrun

Outrun is a subgenre of synthwave that draws inspiration from 80s action movies. It features fast-paced beats, driving basslines, and a sense of adventure. Outrun transports listeners to the thrilling world of retro racing and adrenaline-fueled pursuits.

2. Dreamwave

Dreamwave is a subgenre of synthwave that focuses on creating dreamy and atmospheric soundscapes. It often incorporates ambient elements and ethereal vocals, immersing listeners in a mesmerizing musical journey through nostalgic dreams.

3. Darkwave

Darkwave combines the nostalgic sounds of synthwave with darker and more haunting atmospheres. Drawing inspiration from gothic and industrial music, Darkwave explores the mysterious and shadowy realms of the 80s, evoking a sense of melancholy and introspection.

4. Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk synthwave embraces the dystopian and futuristic themes of cyberpunk literature and movies. It features gritty and aggressive sounds, reflecting the chaotic and technologically advanced worlds of a dark future.

5. Chillwave

Chillwave, also known as vaporwave, is a subgenre of synthwave that slows down the tempo and creates a relaxed and nostalgic atmosphere. It offers a mellow and introspective experience, perfect for unwinding and embracing the soothing vibes of the 80s.

These subgenres within the realm of Synthwave provide diverse interpretations of the genre’s nostalgic and futuristic sound. Whether you’re in the mood for high-speed racing, dreamy atmospheres, dark and haunting tones, futuristic cyberpunk vibes, or laid-back nostalgia, there’s a subgenre of Synthwave to suit your taste.

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Synthwave Artists and Albums

Synthwave has a vibrant and diverse community of artists who continue to push the boundaries of the genre. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just discovering the retro-futuristic sounds of synthwave, here are some standout artists and albums that you need to check out:

Artist Album
Kavinsky OutRun
Perturbator Dangerous Days
Carpenter Brut Trilogy
The Midnight Endless Summer
Gunship Gunship
FM-84 Atlas
Timecop1983 Night Drive
Electric Youth Innerworld
Lazerhawk Visitors
Miami Nights 1984 Early Summer

These talented artists have crafted incredible albums that capture the essence of synthwave, taking you on a nostalgic journey through retro-futuristic soundscapes. From Kavinsky’s iconic “OutRun” to Miami Nights 1984’s “Early Summer,” each album offers a unique blend of catchy melodies, pulsating basslines, and atmospheric soundscapes that define the synthwave genre.

Whether you want to cruise the imaginary neon-lit streets of a cyberpunk city, dive into a dreamy and ethereal synthwave experience, or simply embrace the nostalgia of the 80s, these albums are a must-listen for any synthwave enthusiast.

Conclusion

Synthwave is a genre that seamlessly combines the nostalgic sounds of the 80s with modern electronic music, creating a retro-futuristic experience that transports listeners to another era. With its catchy melodies, pulsating basslines, and atmospheric soundscapes, Synthwave has captivated a global audience and left an indelible mark on the music industry.

From outrun to retro wave, Synthwave encompasses a diverse range of subgenres, each offering its own unique interpretation of the genre’s nostalgic and futuristic sound. Whether you’re drawn to the high-energy beats of outrun or the dreamy and ethereal melodies of dreamwave, there is a subgenre within Synthwave that caters to every taste.

What sets Synthwave apart is not just its music, but also its distinctive art style. The neon colors, futuristic landscapes, and nostalgic imagery that define Synthwave visuals have become synonymous with the genre, capturing the essence of its retro-futuristic sound and evoking a sense of nostalgia and wonder.

With a vibrant community of artists and devoted fans, Synthwave continues to evolve and push the boundaries of the genre. Its influence can be heard in mainstream music, movie soundtracks, and even in fashion and design. Synthwave has not only revived the sounds of the 80s but has also created a cultural phenomenon that will leave a lasting legacy for years to come.

FAQ

What is Synthwave?

Synthwave is a genre of music that emerged in the late 2000s, characterized by its nostalgic sound inspired by 80s synth pop and soundtrack music. It combines elements of electronic music, new wave, and retro-futurism to create a unique and immersive experience.

When did Synthwave originate?

Synthwave originated in the late 2000s as a revival of the 80s synth pop sound.

What are the key characteristics of Synthwave?

Synthwave is characterized by its nostalgic and retro-futuristic sound, often featuring synthesizers, drum machines, and vocoders. It draws inspiration from 80s pop culture, including movies, video games, and television shows.

How has Synthwave influenced other genres?

Synthwave has influenced other genres such as pop, electronic, and rock, with artists incorporating synthwave elements into their songs.

How has Synthwave gained popularity?

Synthwave has gained popularity in recent years due to its nostalgic appeal and its alignment with the resurgence of 80s-inspired aesthetics in fashion, design, and media.

What is the art style associated with Synthwave?

Synthwave art style often features neon colors, futuristic landscapes, and nostalgic imagery, capturing the retro-futuristic aesthetics of the 80s.

What are the key elements of a Synthwave song?

Key elements of a synthwave song include catchy melodies, pulsating basslines, and atmospheric soundscapes that transport listeners back to the neon-lit streets of a retro-futuristic city.

What are some popular Synthwave subgenres?

Synthwave has given rise to various subgenres, including Outrun, Dreamwave, Darkwave, Cyberpunk, and Chillwave, each with its own unique take on the genre’s nostalgic and futuristic sound.

Who are some notable Synthwave artists and albums?

Some notable Synthwave artists and albums include Kavinsky’s “OutRun,” Perturbator’s “Dangerous Days,” Carpenter Brut’s “Trilogy,” The Midnight’s “Endless Summer,” Gunship’s “Gunship,” and FM-84’s “Atlas,” among others.

What is the legacy of Synthwave?

Synthwave has left a lasting legacy in the music industry by influencing various genres, mainstream music, soundtracks, and gaming. It has also created a vibrant and diverse community of artists and fans.

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