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Moog synthesizer

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The term Moog 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 synthesisers.


[edit] 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 the bands Genesis, Rush, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, 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. By the mid-1990s, analog synthesizers were again highly sought after and prized for their classic sound. In 2001, Robert Moog's company Big Briar was able to acquire the rights to the Moog name and officially became Moog Music. Moog Music has been producing the Minimoog Voyager, modeled after the original Minimoog, since 2002. As of 2006, more than 15 companies are making Moog-style synthesizer modules.

In March 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 were a Bob Moog Tribute Edition with a Performer edition announced subsequently.

[edit] 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.

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.

The synthesizer was used for the soundtrack of the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange. Carlos wrote all the original music for the Moog, along with several Moog versions of classical music, to create an eerie mood to express 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. Sun Ra often used it as his instrument of choice to achieve his unique sound. 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.

[edit] Moog Today

Today a number of Moog products can still be purchased, such as Moogerfoogers and Minimoogs. The Minimoog is so popular, in fact, that they regularly sell for over 3000 USD on online auction sites like eBay.

[edit] List of Moog synthesizers

This article was started using a Wikipedia synthesizer article
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