A thisdayinmusic.com Special – The Musicians’ Union and Audio Technology Advancements


I was browsing through thisdayinmusic.com, and under the year 1982 it stated ‘The UK Musicians Union moved a resolution to ban synthesizers and drum rhythm machines from sessions and live concerts fearing that their use would put musicians out of work.’  –thisdayinmusic.com


If you look on The Musician’s Union History website, it explains what happened:


A tour by Barry Manilow which instead of featuring an orchestra (as on his previous tour) involved a number of synthesiser players raised issues about the replacement of string players. A meeting of the Central London Branch in May 1982 passed a motion for an outright ban on synthesisers, which though never official policy of the Union (the Executive Committee passed a much more nuanced resolution on their use in November) attracted a huge amount of attention, notably among synth players themselves (some of whom briefly formed an organisation called the Union of Sound Synthesists) and the music press, the NME characterising the Central London Branch as “MU loonies.” – muhistory.com

I thought I’d draw your attention to this piece of musical history as it’s interesting to look at how the advancement of music and audio technology has in fact opened up an extraordinary number of new possibilities for musicians and listeners of music alike.


I think it’s be fair to say most popular music artists of the 21st century now use synthesisers in the production of their music – they’re used to ‘bulk’ out a song, add a new layer to a piece of music and honestly are often used to save costs on hiring the instrument and instrumentalist needed to play. This potentially means some musicians aren’t hired for that particular job, however someone is still needed to play the synthesiser – meaning it has also made jobs for new instrumentalists.

We’re lucky synthesisers weren’t banned back in 1982!


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