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The Moog Synthesizer

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Moog Modular

The term Moog (pronounced /mo?g/ to rhyme with "vogue", not /mu?g/) synthesizer can refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Dr. Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music, and is commonly used as a generic term for analog and digital music synthesizers.

Moog synthesizers
Moog synthesizers were one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments. Robert Moog created the first subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller in 1964 and demonstrated it at the AES convention. It sometimes took hours to set up the machine for a new sound.
Robert Moog employed his theremin company (R. A. Moog Co., which would later become Moog Music) to manufacture and market his synthesizers. They were shipped with an organ-style keyboard as the standard user interface. The Moog was not necessarily considered a performance instrument, but rather a sophisticated, studio-oriented professional audio system which could be used as a musical instrument; the keyboard was simply a convenient and familiar way to control it. Particularly because of the pitch instability of its oscillators as well as the atonal nature of electronic music of the time, the original Moog synthesizer was designed for creating recorded electronic music. Later modular Moogs would have much-improved oscillators and were better suited to real-time musical performance.

The first Moog instruments were modular synthesizers. In 1971 Moog Music began production of the Minimoog Model D which was among the first widely available, portable and relatively affordable synthesizers. Unlike the modular synthesizer, the Minimoog was specifically designed as a self-contained musical instrument for keyboard players (besides the extremely user-friendly physical design, it also stayed in tune reasonably well) and was the first to really solidify the synthesizer's popular image as a "keyboard" instrument. The Minimoog became the most popular monophonic synthesizer of the 1970s, selling approximately 13,000 units between 1971 and 1982.
Another widely used and extremely popular Moog synthesizer was the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer. Released in 1975, its pedals were similar in design to organ pedals and triggered synthetic bass sounds. The Taurus was known for a "fat" bass sound and was used by bands such as Genesis, Rush, U2, Yes, The Police, Pink Floyd and many others. Production of the original was discontinued in 1981, when it was replaced by the Taurus II.
Moog Music was the first company to commercially release a keytar, the Moog Liberation.
The last Moog synthesizers were manufactured in 1985 before the original Moog Music declared bankruptcy in 1986. In 2001, Robert Moog's company Big Briar was able to acquire the rights to the Moog name and officially became Moog Music. (See Moog Music.) Moog Music has been producing the Minimoog Voyager, modeled after the original Minimoog, since 2002.
In March of 2006, Moog Music unveiled the Little Phatty Analog Synthesizer, boasting "hand-built quality and that unmatched Moog sound, at a price every musician can afford". The first limited edition run of 1200 will be a Bob Moog Tribute Edition with a Performer edition soon to be announced.

Moog synthesizers in culture
According to the American Physical Society, "The first live performance of a music synthesizer was made by pianist Paul Bley at Lincoln Center in New York City on December 26, 1969. Bley developed a proprietary interface that allowed real time performance on the music synthesizer."
It is believed that the first phonograph record to feature a Moog synthesizer was Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac. The first popular music album to feature the instrument was 1967's Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees. Wendy Carlos (formerly Walter Carlos) released major Moog albums in 1968 and 1969: Switched-On Bach and The Well-Tempered Synthesizer. The former earned Carlos three Grammys. Also in 1969, The Beatles used a Moog throughout the Abbey Road album. It was also featured prominently on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's song "Lucky Man," Keith Emerson's Moog solo at the end making it arguably the group's most popular piece. Another famous use of the Moog was in Tangerine Dream's electronic landmark album Phaedra in 1974. Glenn Tilbrook, a member of the new wave band Squeeze, was also known to use the Mini Moog with regularity.
The success of Carlos' Switched-On Bach sparked a series of other synthesizer records in the late 1960s to mid 1970s. These albums featured covers of songs arranged for Moog synthesizer in the most dramatic and flamboyant way possible, covering rock, country and other genres of music. The albums often had "Moog" in their titles (i.e. Country Moog Classics, Martin Denny's Exotic Moog, etc.) although many used a variety of other brands of synthesizers and even organs as well. The kitsch appeal of these albums continue to have a small fanbase and the 1990s band Moog Cookbook is a tribute to this style of music.
One well known use of the synthesizer was in the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange, in which Carlos wrote all the original music for the Moog, along with several Moog versions of classical music, creating a very eerie mood that was considered very successful at expressing the strange society of the movie.
A popular Moog user (and programmer) is Stevie Wonder who won numerous Grammy awards in 1973 for his synthesizer rich Talking Book and also in 1974 where he grabbed the 'Album of the Year' award with yet another Moog-tinted album Innervisions.
Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric is a musician who continues to use only the moog to record his interesting brand of electronic music.
Popularity surged in the 1970s, then declined in the 1980s as digital synthesizers gained traction in the market. By the mid-1990s, analog synthesizers were again highly sought after and prized for their classic sound. As of 2004, more than 15 companies are making Moog-style synthesizer modules. -- courtesy of wikipedia

Visit the official Moog Music web site:

The Moog in Action

Listen Further/Buy
Chick Corea and Return to Forever "The Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant"
Check out this track live here
Parliament Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell playing Moog Bass on "Flashlight"
Stevie Wonder "Creepin"--even though the moog is monophonic, check out how the synth parts were layered one at a time to create chords. really cool!
Wendy Carlos "Switched on Bach"--everything you hear comes out of the moog.
I currently use a module made by Studio Electronics called the SE-1 to cover my moog needs. It is an analog unit that is based upon the original mini moog architecture with a few added bells and whistles. While it is not an exact replica, the SE-1 stands on it's own as an analog synth that is warm and phat.
I also use a software emulation of the Moog Modular ( see photo above ) system that is made by Arturia. I think it sounds amazing, and it doesn't take up half of my studio! You program it with virtual patch cables. It has a wicked analog sequencer that I used on one of my tracks recently. Check it out in the mp3 player. Track 5 is the raw sequencer track from the Moog Modular V, and track 6 is how I used it in the song. I also used the SE-1 for the bass line in this song.
Moog Software and Hardware Emulations

Now that is back in business there are quite a few true analog descendents of the original moog synthesizers available. But for those on a tight budget, Arturia is making some great software emulations.
Software Name Manufacture Comments
Moog Modular V2 Arturia I've never used a real Moog Modular system before so I really don't have anything to compare it to. However, I can say that I love the sound of this, and it is a tremendous tool for learning the basic building blocks required in analog synthesis. The true analog modular synthesis systems are for those who are really into the nuts and bolts of sound design. Since you can not store patches, you have to take pictures of your patches so that you can recreate them later. That's a little too much for me. That being said, the software version is no push over either. In order to program it you've got to be willing to spend a lot of hours figuring the thing out. The program also is a CPU hog so you'll probably want to track your parts once you've sequenced them.
Mini Moog V Arturia I have yet to hear this, but I'm curious. The moog Modular V2 is so great that I'm sure this sounds cool as well.
Minimonsta Gmedia GForce haven't checked this out
Minimoog Voyager - Keys
Minimoog Voyager - Rack very pricey and very dope!
SE-1 -- Module i love this rack mount emulation on the mini moog
Links to Moog Parts, Maintenance and more

Here are a few links to some great Moog Sites The Moog lives! makers of the SE-1 module that is based on the mini moog
moog modular pics great pics of some moog modular systems site dedicated to vintage moog stuff
Archive Sound sells the parts you need to rebuild the keys ( bushings and J wires ) analog synth repair guy in arizona provides lots of links to moog resources ( manuals and repair )

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