image courtesy of Benjamin Ward
Around 1980, "the next step [in synthesizer development], as Moog demonstrated [with the Moog Liberation], was to build a self-contained synthesizer version. The Liberation had to defend its turf, though, against the Syntar by Performance Music Systems. In the guitar-inspired tradition, the monophonic Syntar's truncated-rectangle body housed a three-octave keyboard and an analog voice of two VCOs, a VCA, a multimode VCF, an LFO, two EGs, and a ring modulator, while a neck-like protruberance housed the left-hand expression controls. In place of the usual wheels, joysticks or ribbons for modulation and pitchbending, however, this $1,195 ax provided nine user-programmable 'expression keys.' Each key activated a preset filter, amplitude, or pitch effect for exact replication of filter sweeps, vibratos, tremolos, and pitch-bends, performance after performance. Presto, no more accidental chalk-on-blackboard quarter-tone bends of police-siren vibratos - Syntar had you covered"
[excerpted with permission from the book Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail, copyright Miller Freeman, Inc]