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Moog modular synthesizer

Moog modular synthesizer

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Encyclopedia
Moog modular synthesizer refers to any of a number of monophonic analog modular synthesizer
Modular synthesizer
The modular synthesizer is a type of synthesizer consisting of separate specialized modules connected by wires to create a so-called patch. Every output generates a signal – an electric voltage of variable strength...

s designed by the late electronic instrument
Electronic musical instrument
An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces its sounds using electronics. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical audio signal that ultimately drives a loudspeaker....

 pioneer Dr. Robert Moog
Robert Moog
Robert Arthur Moog , commonly called Bob Moog was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.-Life:...

 and manufactured by R.A Moog Co.
Moog Music
Moog Music is an American company based in Asheville, North Carolina which manufactures electronic musical instruments. The current Moog Music is the second company to trade under that name.-R.A. Moog Co. and the original Moog Music:...

 (Moog Music after 1972) from about 1963 until 1981.

History


In 1964, Robert Moog created one of the first modular voltage-controlled music synthesizers, and demonstrated it at the AES
Audio Engineering Society
Established in 1948, the Audio Engineering Society draws its membership from amongst engineers, scientists, other individuals with an interest or involvement in the professional audio industry. The membership largely comprises engineers developing devices or products for audio, and persons working...

 convention that year. Moog employed his theremin
Theremin
The theremin , originally known as the aetherphone/etherophone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without discernible physical contact from the player. It is named after its Russian inventor, Professor Léon Theremin, who patented the device...

 company to manufacture and market his synthesizers which, unlike the synthesizers created by Don Buchla
Don Buchla
Don Buchla is a pioneer in the field of sound synthesizers, releasing his first units months after Robert Moog's first synthesizers...

 (the other prominent figure in the early history of the synthesizer), featured a piano-style keyboard
Musical keyboard
A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers or keys on a musical instrument, particularly the piano. Keyboards typically contain keys for playing the twelve notes of the Western musical scale, with a combination of larger, longer keys and smaller, shorter keys that repeats at the...

 as a significant portion of the user interface. Moog also established standards for analog synthesizer
Analog synthesizer
An analog or analogue synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses analog circuits and analog computer techniques to generate sound electronically. The earliest analog synthesizers in the 1920s and 1930s such as the Trautonium were built with a variety of vacuum-tube and electro-mechanical technologies...

 control interfacing, with a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signal.

The first Moog system was bought by choreographer Alwin Nikolais
Alwin Nikolais
Alwin Nikolais was an American choreographer.Nikolais studied piano at an early age and began his performing career as an organist accompanying silent films. As a young artist, he gained skills in scenic design, acting, puppetry and music composition...

. Lothar and the Hand People
Lothar and the Hand People
Lothar and the Hand People was a late-1960s psychedelic rock band known for its spacey music and pioneering use of the theremin and Moog modular synthesizer....

 began using the modular Moog in 1965. Composers Eric Siday
Eric Siday
Eric Siday was a composer and musician. While most commonly known for his pioneering work in electro-acoustic music, his early career was that of a hot-jazz violinist in the London dance bands in the Roaring ’20s, including Ray Starita's Piccadilly Revels...

 and Chris Swansen were also among the first customers, with Paul Beaver
Paul Beaver
Paul Beaver was a jazz musician and a pioneer in popular electronic music, using the Moog synthesizer.Beaver was the electronic half of a 1965 experimental free-form album for Dunhill Records with studio drummer Hal Blaine called "Psychedelic Percussion"...

 being the first to use a modular Moog on a record
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

 in 1967. It was Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos is an American composer and electronic musician. Carlos first came to notice in the late 1960s with recordings made on the Moog synthesizer, then a relatively new and unknown instrument; most notable were LPs of synthesized Bach and the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick's film A...

' 1968
1968 in music
-Events:*January 4 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix is jailed by Stockholm police, after trashing a hotel room during a drunken fist fight with bassist Noel Redding.*January 6 – Gibson Guitar Corporation patents its Gibson Flying V electric guitar design....

 Switched-On Bach
Switched-On Bach
-Details:The album consists of pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed on a Moog synthesizer, a modular synthesizer system, one of which can be seen at the back of the room on the album cover. "Switched-On Bach," or "S-OB" as Carlos referred to it, was recorded on a custom-built 8 track recorder...

which featured Carlos' custom-built modular synthesizer as the only instrument on the recording which brought widespread interest to the Moog synthesizer. Shortly after, Keith Emerson
Keith Emerson
Keith Noel Emerson is an English keyboard player and composer. Formerly a member of the Keith Emerson Trio, John Brown's Bodies, The T-Bones, V.I.P.s, P.P. Arnold's backing band, and The Nice , he was a founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer , one of the early supergroups, in 1970...

, The Monkees
The Monkees
The Monkees are an American pop rock group. Assembled in Los Angeles in 1966 by Robert "Bob" Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968, the musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork,...

, Jan Hammer
Jan Hammer
Jan Hammer is a composer, pianist and keyboardist. He first gained his most visible audience while playing keyboards with the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s, as well as his film scores for television and film including "Miami Vice Theme" and "Crockett's Theme", from the popular 1980s...

, Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music group founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The band has undergone many personnel changes over the years, with Froese being the only continuous member...

, The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

, and The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band, formed in London in April 1962 by Brian Jones , Ian Stewart , Mick Jagger , and Keith Richards . Bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts completed the early line-up...

 also became owners of modular Moogs. This new popularity led to the 1970 release of the classic Minimoog
Minimoog
The Minimoog is a monophonic analog synthesizer, invented by Bill Hemsath and Robert Moog. It was released in 1970 by R.A. Moog Inc. , and production was stopped in 1981. It was re-designed by Robert Moog in 2002 and released as Minimoog Voyager.The Minimoog was designed in response to the use of...

 and subsequent Moog synthesizer
Moog synthesizer
Moog synthesizer may 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 older-generation analog music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled...

s, modeled after the larger modular systems and designed for portability, usability
Usability
Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool, machine, process, or anything a human interacts with. A usability study may be conducted as a primary job function by a usability analyst or as a secondary job...

, and affordability. A number of universities purchased Moog systems or modules; the University of Iowa where composer Peter Tod Lewis was a faculty member, for example, owned a Moog Modular IIIC with an optional double-sequencer addition.

The Moog modular synthesizer is considered by enthusiasts to be the original and definitive synthesizer. Although digital synthesizer
Digital synthesizer
A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing techniques to make musical sounds.Electronic keyboards make music through sound waves.-History:...

s and sampler
Sampler (musical instrument)
A sampler is an electronic musical instrument similar in some respects to a synthesizer but, instead of generating sounds, it uses recordings of sounds that are loaded or recorded into it by the user and then played back by means of a keyboard, sequencer or other triggering device to perform or...

s are generally more user friendly than a modular synthesizer and available at a fraction of the price that it would take to acquire and maintain a modular system, modular Moogs continue to be valued by collectors and musicians alike.

Basics


The Moog modular system consists of a number of various modules
Sound module
A sound module is an electronic musical instrument without a human-playable interface such as a keyboard, for example. Sound modules have to be "played" using an externally connected device...

 mounted in a cabinet. Each module performs a specific signal-generating or -modifying function. These modules offered unprecedented control over creating sounds by allowing a user to modify primary sound waveforms (sine waves, square waves and other waveforms provided by voltage controlled oscillators or VCO
Voltage-controlled oscillator
A voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO is an electronic oscillator designed to be controlled in oscillation frequency by a voltage input. The frequency of oscillation is varied by the applied DC voltage, while modulating signals may also be fed into the VCO to cause frequency modulation or phase...

) with amplitude modulators (voltage controlled amplifiers or VCA) and spectral modulators (voltage controlled filters (VCF
Voltage-controlled filter
A voltage-controlled filter is a filter whose operating characteristics can be controlled by means of a control voltage applied to one or more inputs...

) or fixed filter banks) and other modifiers. Envelope generators provided further control by modulating the attack, decay, sustain and release (ADSR) parameters of the VCAs, VCFs and other modules. The modules are patched together with patch cords with ¼i-inch mono plugs. The patch cords and module parameter knobs could be adjusted in countless ways to create a nearly infinite number of sounds. The final sound was heard ('triggered') from the system by pressing a key on an attached keyboard or pressing on the ribbon controller.

The Moog modular synthesizer offered musicians a revolutionary new way to produce sound when it was released in the 1960s. It was originally intended for use in recording studio
Recording studio
A recording studio is a facility for sound recording and mixing. Ideally both the recording and monitoring spaces are specially designed by an acoustician to achieve optimum acoustic properties...

s and universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 and was not intended for (or widely embraced by) musicians for use in live performance. The analog electronics of the system often made sound generation unreliable and unpredictable during live performances. For example, the VCOs were notorious for their inability to hold a fixed frequency for any extended period of time and would often change pitch and go out of tune, especially in hot or damp environments. Additionally, modular sounds could not be programmed and stored for retrieval due to the instrument's analog nature. Changing sounds on the system was a time-consuming task requiring the physical re-routing of numerous patch cords and manual knob adjustments.

Another common problem is the Moog's incompatibility with the gate/trigger voltage used in most other synthesizers of the time. Moog equipment used a high-state logic called S-trig, which maintained at +8-10 volt
Volt
The volt is the SI derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. The volt is named in honor of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta , who invented the voltaic pile, possibly the first chemical battery.- Definition :A single volt is defined as the...

s until the trigger was sent, dropping the voltage to 0, the opposite of what was commonly used by other manufacturers. In addition to this incompatibility, if a certain patch used an extensive amount of triggering connections, each module would cause a voltage drop
Voltage drop
Voltage drop is the reduction in voltage in the passive elements of an electrical circuit. Voltage drops across conductors, contacts, connectors and source internal resistances are undesired as they reduce the supplied voltage while voltage drops across loads and other electrical and electronic...

 sending the logic over into low-state and firing the S-trigger. In spite of all its shortcomings, a few notable artists (including Keith Emerson
Keith Emerson
Keith Noel Emerson is an English keyboard player and composer. Formerly a member of the Keith Emerson Trio, John Brown's Bodies, The T-Bones, V.I.P.s, P.P. Arnold's backing band, and The Nice , he was a founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer , one of the early supergroups, in 1970...

 of ELP
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also known as ELP, are an English progressive rock supergroup. They found success in the 1970s and sold over forty million albums and headlined large stadium concerts. The band consists of Keith Emerson , Greg Lake and Carl Palmer...

, Klaus Schulze
Klaus Schulze
Klaus Schulze is a German electronic music composer and musician. He also used the alias Richard Wahnfried. He was briefly a member of the electronic bands Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel before launching a solo career consisting of more than 60 albums released across five decades.-1970s:In...

, Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music group founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The band has undergone many personnel changes over the years, with Froese being the only continuous member...

, and Hideki Matsutake
Hideki Matsutake
Hideki Matsutake is a Japanese composer, arranger, and computer programmer. He is known for his pioneering work in electronic music and particularly music programming, as the assistant of Isao Tomita during the early 1970s and as the "fourth member" of the band Yellow Magic Orchestra during the...

 with the Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Sakamoto first worked with Hosono as a member of his live band in 1976, while Takahashi recruited Sakamoto to produce his debut solo recording in 1977 following the split of the Sadistic Mika Band...

) successfully toured with Moog modular systems.

Models


In the early and experimental days of electronic instruments, R.A Moog Co. sold made-to-order synthesizer systems composed of whatever modules the musician desired. Starting in 1967, the company began manufacturing a number of pre-assembled stock modular systems that contained a predetermined number of modules. Later on, these systems were manufactured and modified based on customer specifications. Produced from 1967 to 1972, the earliest Moog modular systems were named the Moog 3, the Moog 2, and the Moog 1. The "C" series featured solid walnut
Walnut
Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall , with pinnate leaves 200–900 millimetres long , with 5–25 leaflets; the shoots have chambered pith, a character shared with the wingnuts , but not the hickories...

 cabinets and, starting in 1970, the "P" series, designed for portability, came in a road case
Road case
A road case, commonly referred to as a roadie case, is a shipping container specifically built to protect musical instruments, motion picture equipment, audio and lighting production equipment, properties, or other sensitive equipment when it must be moved between locations, or frequently thrown...

. From 1971 to 1973, the Moog 10 and the Moog 12 were manufactured, each mounted in a road case. Produced from 1972 to 1981, the Moog 15, the Moog 35 and the Moog 55 featured walnut cabinets like the earlier "C" series. Moog also produced the Moog Co-ordinated Electronic Music Studio ( C.E.M.S.).


VST
Virtual Studio Technology
Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology is an interface for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware with software...

 software manufacturer Arturia
Arturia
Arturia is a software company located in Grenoble, France and founded in 1999 by Frédéric Brun and Gilles Pommereuil, both INPG-qualified engineers. The company's focus is on the development of electronic music software and tools - primarily emulation of vintage analog synthesizers...

 has released Moog Modular V, a PC software version of the Moog modular system. It is currently the only software version of the instrument, and the first of Arturia
Arturia
Arturia is a software company located in Grenoble, France and founded in 1999 by Frédéric Brun and Gilles Pommereuil, both INPG-qualified engineers. The company's focus is on the development of electronic music software and tools - primarily emulation of vintage analog synthesizers...

's two Moog simulations to be approved by Moog himself.

Modules


The following is a list of modules manufactured by Moog. Many modules were designed to replace existing ones.
  • 901VCO
    Voltage-controlled oscillator
    A voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO is an electronic oscillator designed to be controlled in oscillation frequency by a voltage input. The frequency of oscillation is varied by the applied DC voltage, while modulating signals may also be fed into the VCO to cause frequency modulation or phase...

    /LFO
  • 901A – VCO driver (1 volt per octave)
  • 901B – VCO
  • 901C – VCO output stage (used on early systems)
  • 901D – VCO output stage
  • 902 – VCA (2 inputs, 2 outputs, 3 CV inputs)
  • 903white noise
    White noise
    White noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal contains equal power within a fixed bandwidth at any center frequency...

     (used on early systems before 903A)
  • 903A – random signal generator (white or pink noise
    Pink noise
    Pink noise or 1/ƒ noise is a signal or process with a frequency spectrum such that the power spectral density is inversely proportional to the frequency. In pink noise, each octave carries an equal amount of noise power...

    )
  • 904Alow-pass VCF
    Low-pass filter
    A low-pass filter is an electronic filter that passes low-frequency signals but attenuates signals with frequencies higher than the cutoff frequency. The actual amount of attenuation for each frequency varies from filter to filter. It is sometimes called a high-cut filter, or treble cut filter...

      (24 dB
    Decibel
    The decibel is a logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of a physical quantity relative to a specified or implied reference level. A ratio in decibels is ten times the logarithm to base 10 of the ratio of two power quantities...

    -per-octave
    Octave
    In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

    , considered the classic Moog filter)
  • 904Bhigh-pass VCF
    High-pass filter
    A high-pass filter is a device that passes high frequencies and attenuates frequencies lower than its cutoff frequency. A high-pass filter is usually modeled as a linear time-invariant system...

  • 904C – filter coupler
  • 905 – spring reverb
    Reverberation
    Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is removed. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air...

  • 907 – horizontal fixed filter bank (Moog 10 and Moog 12)
  • 907A – vertical fixed filter bank (Moog 15 and Moog 35)
  • 909 – power supply (Early units)
  • 910 – power supply (Early units)
  • 911 – ADSR envelope generator (adjustable from 2 ms
    Millisecond
    A millisecond is a thousandth of a second.10 milliseconds are called a centisecond....

     to 10 second
    Second
    The second is a unit of measurement of time, and is the International System of Units base unit of time. It may be measured using a clock....

    s)
  • 911A – dual trigger delay
  • 912 – envelope follower
  • 914 – fixed filter bank (12-band, 125 Hz
    Hertz
    The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

     to 5 kHz, with high-pass and low-pass knobs)
  • 921 – VCO (1.01 Hz to 40 kHz)
  • 921A – VCO driver (1 volt per octave)
  • 921B – VCO (more stable than 901B)
  • 923 – noise, high-pass and low-pass filter
  • 928sample and hold
    Sample and hold
    In electronics, a sample and hold circuit is an analog device that samples the voltage of a continuously varying analog signal and holds its value at a constant level for a specified minimal period of time. Sample and hold circuits and related peak detectors are the elementary analog memory...

  • 930 – power supply (Later units)
  • 950 – 49-note keyboard
  • 950A – keyboard controller
  • 950B – scale programmer
  • 951 – 61-note keyboard
  • 952 – 49-note, duophonic
    Duophonic
    *In synthesizers, capable of sounding two voices, or notes, at a time. Compare: monophonic, polyphonic.*Duophonic is also a term used to refer to a sound process by which a monaural recording is turned into a kind of "fake stereo" by splitting the signal into two channels, delaying the left and the...

     keyboard
  • 955 – ribbon controller (replaced by 956)
  • 956 – ribbon controller
  • 958 – pedal controller
  • 959joystick
    Joystick
    A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

     (X-Y) controller
  • 960sequencer
    Music sequencer
    The music sequencer is a device or computer software to record, edit, play back the music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically :...

     (3 rows of eight steps)
  • 961 – sequencer interface Include voltage-trigger to S-trigger and back
  • 961CP – sequencer interface panel (Moog 55)
  • 962 – sequential switch
  • 984 – 4X4 matrix mixer
    Mixing console
    In professional audio, a mixing console, or audio mixer, also called a sound board, mixing desk, or mixer is an electronic device for combining , routing, and changing the level, timbre and/or dynamics of audio signals. A mixer can mix analog or digital signals, depending on the type of mixer...

  • 991 – filter and attenuator
  • 992 – control voltages (illuminated red or blue switches linked to the 904A)
  • 993 – trigger/envelope (illuminated yellow or green switches)
  • 994 – jack multiples (duplicates voltages)
  • 995 attenuators
  • 1120 – foot pedal
  • 1125 – sample-and-hold
  • 1130drum
    Drum
    The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

     controller
  • 1131 – percussion controller
  • 1150 – ribbon controller
  • 1630 – Bode Frequency Shifter (designed by Harald Bode
    Harald Bode
    Harald Bode was a German engineer and pioneer in the development of electronic music instruments.- Biography :...

    )
  • 1634 – pitch-to-voltage converter
  • 6401 – Bode ring modulator (designed by Harald Bode
    Harald Bode
    Harald Bode was a German engineer and pioneer in the development of electronic music instruments.- Biography :...

    )
  • CP1CV
    CV/Gate
    CV/Gate is an analog method of controlling synthesizers, drum machines and other similar equipment with external sequencers. The Control Voltage typically controls pitch and the Gate signal controls note on/off....

     and trigger outputs (Moog 3P)
  • CP2 – CV and trigger outputs, and filters
  • CP3 – 4X1 mixer
  • CP3A – mixer (illuminated switches linked to the VCOs)
  • CP4 – CV and trigger outputs, attenuators (Moog 1C)
  • CP4A – CV and trigger outputs (Moog 35)
  • CP5 – CV and trigger outputs (designed for the "P" series)
  • CP6 – CV and trigger outputs (designed for the "P" series)
  • CP7 – CV and trigger outputs, multiples (designed for the "P" series)
  • CP8 – power switch (Moog 2C and Moog 3C)
  • CP8A – power switch (Moog 35 and Moog 55)
  • CP9 power switch (Moog 3P)
  • CP11 – mixer, triggers, outputs (Moog 10; four-input mixer, jack multiples, attenuator, 2 CV and trigger outputs, and 2 audio outputs)
  • CP35 – attenuators (Moog 35)
  • In addition to these, Moog made four preset boxes for the First Moog Quartet performance in Carnegie Hall (ca. 1967). Each box contained perhaps six cards, each card with a lighted pushbutton to enable its presets to be active. Screwdriver-adjusted trimming pots on the cards were connected, by photoconductive cells on the cards, directly to the module circuits (knobs were set at their limits). The synthesizers were small portable 900-series modular types.


    See also

    • List of Moog synthesizer players
    • Moog Music
      Moog Music
      Moog Music is an American company based in Asheville, North Carolina which manufactures electronic musical instruments. The current Moog Music is the second company to trade under that name.-R.A. Moog Co. and the original Moog Music:...

    • Moog synthesizer
      Moog synthesizer
      Moog synthesizer may 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 older-generation analog music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled...

    • Robert Moog
      Robert Moog
      Robert Arthur Moog , commonly called Bob Moog was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.-Life:...


    External links