A musician who performs primarily or entirely on synthesizers. Given that developing and manipulating timbre is the raison d'etre of synthesizers, it is implied in the definition that a good synthesist is skilled at building patches and exploiting the sound-producing capabilities of the instrument. The means by which the synthesist actually performs on the instrument can vary; some synthesists play a conventional keyboard, but others may perform by means of guitar or other conventional instruments adapted to be controllers. Others may use control devices designed expressly for synth, while others may rely on indirect means such as sequencers.
One of the difficulties with being a synthesist in live performance is that, because so much of the work done by the synthesist in building patches is "off line" and so is never seen by the audience, much of the skill is not evident to the audience. Additionally, visual aspects of performance may be difficult for those audience members who are not knowledgeable about synths to connect with the sounds that they hear. This makes it difficult for the audience to appreciate what the synthesist does.
See also sound designer.