Thomas Dolby Explains the Synthesizer to Kids in 1989

During a 1989 episode of the British television show The Ghost of Faffner Hall, musician Thomas Dolby explained how a synthesizer works. He used the example of a fly in a matchbox and a Jim Hensen puppet fly volunteered to help.

Your synthesizer consists of two things an oscillator and a filter. The oscillator controls the pitch of the sound and the filter controls the tone of a sound. But why? Well, for the purposes of this demonstration I’d like you to think of a synthesizer as a fly in a matchbox …. I want you to imagine that the fly is an oscillator and this box is a filter and me I’m electricity and if I start to shake the box the fly will begin to buzz.

He then performed a bit of “She Blinded Me With Science” with help from the animated fly in the box.

via Boing Boing