top of page

Classic Synth Album Review: Blade Runner Soundtrack by Vangelis

There’s few synth-based musical endeavours that can compete with Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack in terms of impact or the way in which it elevated synth-based music as an art form. I couldn’t help but choose it as one of the classic synth albums that I wanted to review.

Vangelis wove together synthesizers and other instruments into a complex, nuanced and varied score for the futuristic dystopia portrayed in Blade Runner. It’s music that is layered, lush and full of ear candy. More than that, it helps to deepen the narrative of the movie by providing a sonic narrative of its own that meshes with the cinematic storytelling.

Central to the music of Blade Runner is one major synthesizer: the Yamaha CS-80. This is a rare synth that has tremendous range and the ability to create complex sounds and combine them in many permutations and combinations. The flexibility and range of the Yamaha CS-80 adds to the sheer richness of the music that Vangelis was able to compose for the film.

Along with the powerhouse main synth, Vangelis also used a range of Roland synth instruments, a Sequential Circuits Prophet 10, a Yamaha GS1 FM synthesizer and an E-mu Emulator sampler. There was also a modified Fender Rhodes, a Steinway grand piano and a Yamaha CP-80 electric grand piano. On top of the synths, he also used glockenspiel, gamelan, tubular bells and various percussion instruments.