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'Tomorrow's World' comes of age and goes back to the future.
If the Minimoog was designed to simplify modular synthesis for mass consumption, then the ARP 2600 was created to haul the whole kit and caboodle into the hands of performing musicians. Rather than limit the options with a written-in-stone signal path as Moog did, the 2600 presented a fully patchable instrument in a fairly compact package.
Thanks to the Minimoog, electronic music was pulled down from its lofty academic perch and allowed to run free among the uncouth and unruly, and thank goodness for that. Maybe we should thank Bill Hemsath, the Moog employee who spent his lunch hours in the attic, kludging together the first Minimoog from bits and bobs from Moog's massive modular systems. He just wanted a portable instrument he could take home. He couldn't have known that he was creating a legend.
And when he does the portemento sweep on the Lucky Man solo.
"He wasn't isolating himself like a presumptuous laboratory scientist saying, I know what's best," Gregory told me. "He was going to musicians and saying, what would you like to be able to do?" Krause agrees, telling me that compared to the Buchla, "I found that the Moog synthesiser was a little bit more intuitive and also, in terms of a transitional instrument, more musical. Moog was more interested in helping people make the transition between the vagaries of electronics to really controlled expression of music."
The key to the Moog's longevity, for Gregory, lies in its inventor's attentiveness to the needs of musicians. Herb Deutsch practically moved in with Moog's family for weeks when they were developing the first prototype together, and later Eric Siday and Wendy Carlos would each have a profound affect on the machine's further development and refinement.
The history of electronic music from 1800 to 2015
Shankar (1942-99) was a nephew of Ravi Shankar and learned to play sitar in his native India. This self-titled album was recorded in Los Angeles where he was a studio musician. This is a flakey but sincere attempt to arrange music for the sitar, a Moog, and a rock rhythm section. Combining the sitar and the Moog is itself a novelty, but Shankar and synthesist Paul Lewison managed to transcend the most obvious musical cliches and produced a Moog Modular album that is unique in the canon of Moogploitation records. The standout is a cover of “Light My Fire,” a controlled barrage of quietly brilliant Moog effects and sitar melody. Many other artists covered this Doors song with the Moog, but all tried too hard to replicate the classic combo organ sound of the original. On this version, synthesist Paul Lewison for the most part resists imitating the cheap combo organ sounds except for a chorus and the final bars when he adds a closing organ-like riff as if to say, “See, I could have done this but had a better idea.” This version is mellow and understated and succeeds in a way that recounts the earlier success of Jose Feliciano’s acoustic guitar rendition of the same song. The rest of the album is full of equally rewarding surprises.
Oberheim had, in reality, been there before Sequential. It offered polyphony in the form of its OB Four and Eight Voice instruments, achieved by strapping a handful of its S.E.M. modules into a case, attaching a keyboard and expecting the user to identically tweak each individual S.E.M. There was even a rudimentary programmer available that could store some (but not all) of the parameters for later recall. They sounded immense, but they were difficult to manage, to say the least.
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Moog Legacy Articles - Moog Music Inc
Deutsch had been teaching music out on Long Island, while Moog was there for the trade fair part of the conference, working the aisles trying to flog a few theremins. Herb already had one and was amazed to discover that its manufacturers, the R.A. Moog Co., consisted pretty much of one guy called Robert Arthur Moog and there he was standing right in front of him. The two got chatting and it soon became clear that Deutsch was way more switched on than the man whose machine would one day switch-on Bach. "Do you know anything about electronic music?" Deutsch asked Moog. Amazingly, for a guy who'd been building theremins half his life, he didn't.
Moog Slim Phatty Analog Synthesizer - Moog Music Inc
Oberheim had a bit of a re-think after the Prophet-5 whizzed by, and took the best of its previous designs and combined them into the huge OB-X. It worked a treat and begat a number of follow-ups, each with its own specific qualities and refinements, and each with its own loyal following.
Moog Polymoog 203a | Vintage Synth Explorer
Nine years later, Moog was a physics graduate with a wife and kids, living in Trumansburg, a town with five bars and five churches and not much else, in Tompkins County, upstate New York. And he was still building theremins in his basement and selling them out of a shopfront in the village. All in all, it seems he was pretty happy building the electronic musical instruments and making out ok that way. Maybe he would have just carried on doing that, if he hadn't met a guy called Herb Deutsch at the New York State School Music Association Allstate conference.
Tomorrow's World | Moog Synthesiser - BBC - Homepage
Like the OB-X that preceded it, the OB-Xa was available in four-, six- or eight-voice versions and sported a somewhat simplified dual oscillator signal path. The OB-Xa, however, added a 24 dB filter to the OB-X's 12 dB job and, in fact, you could create layered sounds that combined both for a more complex and engaging sound.
Sublime design: the Moog synthesiser
Deutsch invited Moog to a concert he was giving in the Greenwich Village loft of the artist Jason Seley, a sculptor who would end up as dean of Moog's old alma mater, Cornell. This took place in January 1964. Downtown New York. Yoko Ono and La Monte Young had recently presented their concert series in her Chambers Street loft. Fluxus was happening. Jonas and Adolphos Mekas had set up the Film-Makers Co-op at the Bleecker Street Cinema. Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor were doing gigs in people's apartments. Yvonne Rainer and others had opened the Judson Dance Theater in a Greenwich Village church. Artists like Walter De Maria and Donald Judd were exhibiting works made of industrial materials like concrete, steel, plywood, and aluminium in co-operatively run galleries in the blocks between Houston and 10th Street. Moog stepped into the midst of all of this and it blew his mind.
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