If you are a fan (or hater) of 80s music, you have surely heard the sound of this synthesizer. Because no one could avoid using the DX7 at one point or another in that decade. This polyphonic, monotimbral digital synth was all the rage back then (it was in production from 1983 to 1989). And in the hands of synth gurus, it could produce just about any kind of sounds you can think of. Yet for most of us, this instrument is only famous for a handful of well recognizable sounds, so called patches. Why is that, you may ask. Well, it’s because you had to be very smart, very patient, very open minded and (remember it’s the 80s!) pretty sober to be able to program it. You even had to read the fucking manual (RTFM) or, better yet, buy certain handbooks about how to program the Yamaha DX7. And to get useful and original sounds out of this thing, well you had to be fukken good. No wonder you could earn a good, steady income by just creating and selling your own patches.
Have good patches, man?
Now that wasn’t the case with most musicians, so they either bought some super-duper patches, or defaulted to the factory patches. Fortunately this thing actually came with pretty good sounding ones. Those are the sounds that you will be able to recognize immediately.
DX7 – king of the fake Rhodes
First of all, the most famous, cheesiest electric piano sound on Earth, which was considered to be the DX7’s take on the Fender Rhodes, even if it wasn’t exactly the intention of Yamaha. They probably just wanted to include “something like this, something like that”, if you know what I mean. But anyway, who could resist that sound on a slow pop or rock ballad?
Chicago – “Hard Habit To Break”
Phil Collins – “One More Night”
Fretless bass imitation
Then there’s the bass, aggressive, percussive (FM synthesis was a perfect match for pop music), and you could create incredibly busy bass lines with it, without it becoming muddy (notice that I wrote the word “muddy”, NOT “annoying”). It was also good for that fake chorused fretless sound.
Madonna – “Live To Tell”
Genesis – “Land Of Confusion”
The DX does it all – charmingly imperfect
And finally a song that kind of “demoes” the DX7. We have flute, electric piano, but even a harmonica solo created on the Yamaha.
Tina Turner – “What’s Love Got To Do With It”