The Museum of Soviet Synthesizers
By James Grahame
Ask someone from the west about Soviet technology, and they'll probably mention Sputnik, Poljot watches and MiG fighter jets. However, the USSR produced a surprisingly broad range of consumer goods - radios, calculators, timepieces, games and even musical synthesizers.
The Museum of Soviet Synthesizers is an attempt to catalog the various electronic musical instruments that made it into production in the final decades of the Soviet era. Most of them appear to have been ten years behind western designs, but undoubtedly there was some clever engineering under the austere front panels.
The Ritm-2 was manufactured by the Kirovsky musical instrument factory in 1984. The little machine is a surprisingly attractive analog monosynth with a basic front panel. It was intended to be played live - there were no MIDI jacks or computer ports on this simple beast. The Museum is filled with instruments like this that could only have survived behind the Iron Curtain, where slyly imported Japanese and American instruments were few and far between.