Electronic musical instrument

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An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces its sounds using electronics. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical audio signal that ultimately drives a loudspeaker.

An electronic instrument may include a user interface for controlling its sound, often by adjusting the pitch, frequency, or duration of each note. However, it is increasingly common for the user interface and sound-generating functions to be separated into a music controller (input device) and a music synthesizer, respectively, with the two devices communicating through a musical performance description language such as MIDI or Open Sound Control.

All electronic musical instruments can be viewed as a subset of audio signal processing applications. Simple electronic musical instruments are sometimes called sound effects; the border between sound effects and actual musical instruments is often hazy.

French composer and engineer Edgard Varèse created a variety of compositions using electronic horns, whistles, and tape. Most notably, he wrote Poème Électronique for the Phillips pavilion at the Brussels World Fair in 1958.

Electronic musical instruments are now widely used in most styles of music. The development of new electronic musical instruments, controllers, and synthesizers continues to be a highly active and interdisciplinary field of research. Specialized conferences, notably the International Conference on New interfaces for musical expression, have organized to report cutting edge work, as well as to provide a showcase for artists who perform or create music with new electronic music instruments, controllers, and synthesizers.

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