top of page

Funky Robots - EMP Blog Week 2: Synthesis

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo formed in 1993. They achieved mainstream success in the late 90's as part of the French house movement combining elements from funk, disco, synthpop, techno and rock music. Apart from their music, Daft Punk is notable for their visual stylization associated with their music. They wear ornate helmets and gloves to assume robot personas both on-stage and off-stage.

Their music varies from Funk and Acid elements in "Da Funk" and a post-disco boogie bassline, a minimalist synthetic keyboard melody and a naggingly insistent hook in "Around the world" from their debut album "Homework" in 1997 to rock influences and a guitar solo in "Instant crush" and hip hop elements in "Doin' it right" from their latest album "Random Access Memories" in 2013. Their sound has changed a lot over the years and it continues to evolve because of their continuous experimentation with sound synthesis to express certain moods and emotions. Their robotic visual appearance and overly emotional and moody music is not supposed to go along but this vast expression from both sides of the mountain is what sets them apart from many other artists.

One particular style of sound synthesis that they use is the Vocoder. It has been with them since they first came out and has since become their signature. They process vocals using the vocoder triggering them with MIDI notes to fit the composition of a particular track then adding multiple harmonies created using the same process to create their famous robotic effect.

The process of Vocoder synthesis contains two parts, a ‘carrier’ wave, and a ‘modulator’ input. The carrier is the sound you want to vocode through, and the modulator is your voice. The modulator takes your voice, finds the fundamental frequencies (important bits) of it, and converts them into levels of amplitude on a series of band pass filters. These band pass filter signals are then passed onto the carrier wave where your final sound is created.

The most famous example of this technique can be heard in my favourite Daft Punk song called "Harder Better Faster" from their 2001 album "Discovery". The song is in 4/4 time and in the key of F#m. The tempo is 123 BPM.

Click the link below to have a listen


Daft Punk. (2017). Retrieved 18 February 2017, from

Homework (Daft Punk album). (2017). Retrieved 18 February 2017, from

Introduction to Vocoders. (2017). Retrieved 18 February 2017 from

Vocoder. (2017). Retrieved 18 February 2017, from

bottom of page