Synthesizer Taxonomy

Sounds can be classified in many different ways. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, when faced with thousands of different sounds and patches, it is difficult to find a sound if there is no way to tag it. This page is an attempt to specify taxonomy in a variety of different dimensions.

  1. Sounds by Parameter
    1. High - Low
    2. Active - Passive
    3. Bright - Dull
    4. Rich - Lean
    5. Delicate - Robust
    6. Short - Long
    7. Revolution - Evolution
    8. Agile - Ponderous
  2. Sounds by Function
    1. Melodic
    2. Harmonic
    3. Non-pitched
    4. Pads
    5. Leads
    6. Bass
    7. Textural
    8. One Shot
  3. Sounds by Orchestral Family
    1. Windlike
    2. Brasslike
    3. Pitched Percussion like
    4. Percussionlike
    5. Stringlike
    6. Keyboardlike
  4. Sounds by Mood
    1. Happy
    2. Sad
    3. Angry
    4. Sleepy
    5. Fearful
  5. Sounds by Realistic degree
    1. Emulation
    2. Suggestion
    3. Abstraction
    4. Invention
  6. Sounds by Synthesis Technique *
    1. Processed Recording
    2. Spectral Model
    3. Physical Model
    4. Abstract Algorithm
  • from "A Taxonomy of Digital Synthesis Techniques", Julius O. Smith III