Tag Archives: moog

“Think of a sound. Now make it. Any sound is now possible.”

FirefoxScreenSnapz001Contributor T. Fine recommends these excellent pieces on early electronic music.  First, a really fun circa 2006 Australian documentary film:

…And a reminder that the MOMA is still running its “Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye” series:

Moma_Aria_radioIn describing some of the musical objects in their collection, the curators write, “…MoMA was the first museum in the world to collect such objects, beginning in 1932, (and) also pioneered the live presentation of some new music technologies. For instance, Russian émigré Vladimir Ussachevsky performed the first tape-music concert in the United States at MoMA in October 1952. And though the Museum’s collection does not include a synthesizer, it presented the famed Moog synthesizer as a live performance instrument for the very first time on August 28, 1969, changing the course of music history and influencing decades of future instrument design.

moog_in_the_Garden Herb_at_moogLearn more about this historic event at the MOMA’s blog.

A DIY Electronic Music Studio circa 1971

Texas_studio_1971Today on PS dot com: a 1971 article by one Robert C. Ehle on the subject of ‘The Electronic Music Studio.’

Download here: Elec_Music_1971

The article includes a schematic for an audio-triggered frequency divider (ala early ‘woodwind synthesizers’) and some interesting other bits, such as discussion of tape-based time compression (which we covered earlier,,,  click here for that article).

Tape_TimeCompresion_1971Bleep Bleep.

Bloop Bloop.




Moog Break! (’72 – ’77)

PolyMoog_1976Today: some Moog-bits circa the mid seventies.  Above: the Polymoog.  And below: one of my fav recently-unearthed period-tracks featuring a Polymoog.

Moog_Sonic_6_1973Above: The Sonic Six of 1973.  Sure I know ELP, but Paintings?  The Mike Quatro Jam Band?  Anyone?

Moog_1972_MiniAbove: The same bros.  Now with MiniMoog.

microMoog_1977The Micromoog of ’77.  Not a ton of control options on this lil’ guy, but they are still affordable at around $700usd.  I should probably pick one of these up before they become as unaffordable as the most of the other vintage Moog models…

KeithEmerson_Moog_19721972: Keith Emerson and the MiniMoog.

For our exclusive download of vintage German (!!!) MiniMoog and SonicSix catalogs, click here…

Curious to see the first-ever Moog advert?  Check this previous article. 

Keyboard Pluralism: 1980-1982

Yamaha_CS70M_1982Above: The Yamaha CS70m (1982)

Today on PS dot com: some oddball keyboards from 1980-1982.  Check out the incredible heterogeneity of the offerings here: analog monosynths,  analog polysynths, electric organs, electro-acoustic pianos, analog “electronic pianos,” and super-high-end digital workstations.  In just one year, Yamaha would release the world’s first affordable digital synth, the DX7, and this would soon lead to the overwhelming popularity of the dreaded “Rompler” (Korg M1 anyone?): keyboards which were difficult for the player to easily program.  The result was two decades of generic, predictable synthesizer sounds appearing in much pop and rock music.  Luckily, we now have affordable, easy-to-use analog synths again (most notably from KORG); and those shitty old romplers?  Personally, I run mine (a Kawai K-1) through a whole string of guitar pedals, chop+slice,  and sometimes that’s just the sound the track needs…

Below: Synclavier II, one of the two ‘popular’ early digital super-synths, introduces control software (1981) to allow easier programming; Rhodes Mark III EK-10, one of the last of the original mechanical Rhodes pianos (1980); Oberheim polyphonic sequencer for CV/Gate synths (1981); Moog THE SOURCE analog monosynth with digital patch memory (1981); The Kustom 88 ‘electronic piano’ (1981); Hohner Pianet T Electric ‘Piano’ (more like an electric glockenspiel IMHO) (1981); The Fairlight CMI digital workstation, the other early digital monster (1982); EKO bass pedal board (1981); The Crumar Toccata electric organ (1981) and DP-50 electronic piano (1982).

SynclavierII_TerminalSupport_1981 Rhodes_MArk_III_EK10_1980 Oberheim_DSX_Sequencer_1981 Moog_TheSource_1981 Kustom_88_piano_1981 Hohner_Pianet_T_1981 Fairlight_CMI_1982 EKO_BassPedalBoard_1981 Crumar_Toccata_1981 Crumar_DP50_1982*************



We had a SOURCE when I was a kid (around 1993, JR?) and it was impossible to get it to play in tune; I briefly had a Pianet T and WOW do I regret selling it: i’ve had just about every model of Pianet and I can say with total confidence that the T is the one to get.  Smaller, less hassle, passive electronics…  I really wouldn’t advise fkkn around with the earlier models.  Besides those two, I’ve never used any of these. Anyone using ’em these days?  Shit, anyone using an M-1 these days?  Send us some modern tracks with fresh use of the M-1?  There’s a zillion of those things out there, someone’s gotta bring em back…

Keys Break: 1980

Today: a quick look at some forgotten synths+keys from circa 1980 A.D.  Above: the Electro-Harmonix Mini Synth, a pretty cool little piece.  Incredibly, it has a touch-sensitive keyboard.  Other period entries in the mini-analog-monosynth field included my beloved Yamaha CS-01 and ???

Above: Roland’s Saturn, a hopped up organ similar to the RS-09.  Read the advert text for Roland’s suggestion that the Saturn’s sound corresponds to the aesthetic values of New Wave (i.e., trad rock + the new ‘punk’ sounds = New Wave, demanding a combo organ with… something extra….).

Octave-Plateau’s CAT and KITTEN synthesizers. But what’s that lil’ box in the center?

Why it’s the CAT STICK, a four-source modulation generator.  Pretty good, pretty neat…

Above: the Hohner Duo, a large mechanical nightmare that comprises a complete Clavinet and a complete Pianet in One-Handy-Keyboard.  We have a fully-restored Duo at Gold Coast Recorders and it makes the occasional appearance on tracks. Coolest unexpected feature: keyboard split!

Above: the Moog Liberation and Performance Music System’s SYNTAR, early Keytar instruments.  Nice Spyro Gyra appearance.


Raymond Scott, Electronic Music Pioneer

Raymond Scott in his home studio, 1955

“The composer must bear in mind that the radio listener does not hear music directly. He hears it only after the sound has passed through a microphone, amplifiers, transmission lines, radio transmitter, receiving set, and, finally, the loud speaker apparatus itself.” —Raymond Scott, 1938

“Raymond Scott was definitely in the forefront of developing electronic music technology, and in the forefront of using it commercially as a musician.” – Bob Moog (SOURCE)

Raymond Scott was one of the true visionaries of early electronic music.  You can read his fascinating story here.  Being a huge fan of Eno, Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze, it is remarkable to me that Scott was creating very similar compositions (often with his own homemade equipment) a decade or more before any of those artists.  Many early electronic artists seemed interested in sound-as-music, noise-as-music – recall how Varese, Stockhausen, and Luening used electronics in their work.  Others seemed content to replicate traditional harmonic and melodic patterns, using the newly available electronic voices as novel colors.  For instance, Wendy Carlos (no link available due to the fact that Carlos seems stuck in the past as regards YouTube and modern content realities.  Ironic, ain’t it).  NEways,,, Scott, contrary to both of these approaches, walked a middle line – creating often wholly electronic music in which the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic strategies were both pleasantly listenable but also very true to their synthetic nature: there’s really no attempt to shoehorn trumpet and piano lines into the new voices he established.  To rephrase: the material is very much composed for these particular new voices, but in an approachable way.

Above, Scott’s ‘Electronium’ music computer of 1965.  Not too surprisingly, it is currently owned by Mark Mothersbaugh; a child to Scott’s marriage of esoteric electronics and pop sensibility if there was ever one.  The ‘Electronium’ currently awaits restoration.  Makes me cringe to just think about servicing that thing.  Good luck fellas.

For more coverage of early electronic music pioneers on PS dot com, click here

1980 (via Music Emporium)

Download 25pp of excerpts from the 1980 ‘Music Emporium’ mail-order catalog: synthesizers, keyboards; effects pedals; pro audio equipment:

DOWNLOAD SYNTHS:Music_Emp_Keys_1980


DOWNLOAD PRO AUDIO: Music_Emp_audio_1980

Keyboard instruments covered, with photos, text, and (often) pricing, include: ARP Axxe, Odyssey, Quadra, Quartet, Omni II, and 2600 keyboards, Moog Micro Moog, Mini-Moog, Polymoog, and Multi-Moog, Korg MS-10 and MS-20; Oberheim OB-1, two-voice, OB-X, and four and eight-voice systems; Roland RS-09 and RS-505 string machines; Roland MP-600 electronic piano; mechanical keyboards from Hohner (pianet and clavinet) and Wurlitzer (200); Leslie 820, 860, 147, 760, and 815 rotating speaker systems.

Effects pedals include full lines from MXR (many…), Morley (VOL, SVO, PWO, WVO, PWB, PWF, PWA, PFA, and PRL), Mutron (III, Phasor II, Vol-Wah, Octave Divider, and Bi-Phase), and DOD (250, 280, 401, 640); plus interesting oddities like the Gizmotron, eBow, Altair PW-5, and the original Pignose amplifier.

Audio includes a wide range of mics from Shure, Sennheiser, Beyer, Sony, plus some predictable selections from the AKG and Electrovoice lines; Teac tape machines; Technics 1500 and RS-M85; the Tangent 3216 mixing console; time delay effects including Loft 440, Lexicon Prime Time model 93, MXR digital delay and flanger-doubler; Roland space echos, Tapco 4400 and Furman RV-1 reverbs; compressors including MXR mini, Ashly SC55 and SC-50. Biamp Quad Compressor, Ureil LA4, and DBX compressors 163, 160, 162, 165; plus a host of mainly graphic EQs including Biamp EQ210, EQ270A and EQ110R, MXR Dual 15 abd 31, Tapco C-201, Ashly SC-63 and SC-66, and Ureil 537 and 545 parametric filter set.

DOD effects pedals circa 1980

The Gizmotron, which is sort of the mechanical equivalent of an e-Bow; it was invented by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley of band 10CC; I have never come across one of these but wow would I love this for studio work.  Check out some amazing sound clips here.

The Korg MS-20.  This is our house monosynth at Gold Coast Recorders and lord do these things sound great.  Pitch to CV conversion built in!

Loft 440 Time Delay effects.  Loft was a Connecticut maker of Pro Audio kit in the 70s/80s.  Much previous Loft coverage on PS dot com; maybe start here…

I just got a new MacBook Pro and guess what.  My Protools LE 8 does not work on it.  Big surprise.  Everytime this happens (which means everytime a new Mac comes into my life…) I inch closer to replacing the PT LE system that I use for demos at home with one of these 70s four-track reel systems.  Of course, an Mbox and Laptop weigh about 100lbs less and take up 1/10th the desk space.   Is anyone out there making demos (or album masters) on a Teac/Tascam 1/4″ reel system? Drop us a line and let us know…

Technics RS-M85 cassette deck.  Beautiful looking machine.  Working example on eBay right now for $138…

The Urei LA4 was the compressor that I learned on at school.  The studio had a pair and they sounded great. Simple and effective… 

I don’t know how accurate it was to have ever called the Beyer M69 a popular microphone, but they do have a good sound.  We have a pair at GCR and they are a good alternative to the SM58 as a handheld dynamic.  To my ears they sound less boxy; seem to have less proximity effect. 

For previous Music Emporium coverage on PS dot com (incredible as it may sound….), visit here…

Keys of the 70s

Strings & Things Memphis advert for keyboards circa 1977.

Been looking through some mid-70s issues of “Contemporary Keyboard” (h.f. “CK”) magazine.  CK later became simply “Keyboard,” which is still in publication; it’s part of the GUITAR PLAYER family of publications.  NEways…   1976/7 was an interesting time in the development of keyboard instruments.  Affordable polyphonic (IE., you can play more than one note at a time) synthesizers were still a few years away, and realistic-sounding electronic pianos were still about a decade away.  So what you had was a very mixed bag of Electronic Pianos and ‘String Synthesizers,’ which are both basically hyped-up electric organs; some still-useful electro-acoustic instruments; and a pretty wide range of pretty experimental synthesizers, many from small manufacturers that didn’t stay around very long.  In about 6 years this would all be blown away by advanced Japanese synths with built-in programming, patch memory, and all with polyphony;  the Roland/Korg/Yamaha DX7 era; and this too would fall at the hands of the dreaded Korg M1, which ushered in the Rompler era.  Anyone out there using an M1 lately?

The ARP pro-soloist, typical of the ‘preset’ synths of the era; preset synths offered interfaces optimized for live-performance rather than endless tweaking in the studio.

The Hohner Clavinet, HIP II, and Stringvox.  The Clavinet has attained classic status, and many are still in use; not so sure about the HIP II and Stringvox.

A couple of Moogs from different ends of the spectrum.  The Minitmoog was a ‘preset’ synth; the Polymoog was not a true synth; it was closer to an organ in terms of its basic operating principle.

Oberheim Expander

A few Paia synth-kit offerings of the mid 70s: the Surf Synthesizer, The Gnome, and the classic 4700.  See this link for previous PAIA coverage on PS dot com.

An advert for the Polyfusion System A.  See this link for previous coverage of the Polyfusion line.

The RMI Electra Piano.  When we were growing up in the late 80s/early 90s, ‘electric pianos’ like these were about fifty bucks or less; no one wanted them, and that has not changed.  They sound pretty awful but they’re still heavy and cumbersome!

The RMI KC-II Keyboard Computer.  From what I gather, this device is essentially a RAMpler; not too different in basic principle from the epic Synclavier in that the user could input waveforms which would then be manipulated.  This thing apparently cost $4700 which means that… yeah… there ain’t too many out there.

Roland MP-700 electronic piano

Sequential Circuits Model 700 programmer.  I assume that this thing has a bunch of jackpoints that you would connect to various I/O points on yr modular synth…  anyone use one of these?

The Steiner-Parker Synthacon.  A rare Minimoog-esque unit.  Apparently used on IN THE LIGHT.

The Strider Systems DCS1.   I can’t find any info on this piece.  Anyone?

Synare PS synth drums

Yamaha CP-30, yet another electronic piano

The Yamaha YC-45, the flagship model of their YC series.  The YCs are unapologetic “Combo Organs,” which explains why they are still in use while the string synths and electronic pianos rest mainly in landfills.  These are great-sounding, versatile organs; they also weigh a metric tonne so be forewarned.

Want more?  Check out this site; this man has dedicated his entire blog to territory that I only dare visit.

Tomorrow: some interesting keyboard amps and FX from the era.

Vintage Moogs in Deutscher Sprache

From the PS dot com archive/pile:  Download nine pages of German-language Mini Moog and Moog Sonic-Six catalogs from 1974.

DOWNLOAD: Moog_Germany_1974

Also includes Moog German price-list of the era.

The Mini-Moog synthesizer was introduced in 1970.  It was a truly revolutionary device.

Keyboardist Rick Wakeman says of the Minimoog’s invention: “For the first time you could go on [stage] and give the guitarist a run for his money…a guitarist would say, ‘Oh shit, he’s got a Minimoog’, so they’re looking for eleven on their volume control – it’s the only way they can compete.” Wakeman said the instrument “absolutely changed the face of music.”


Essentially, the Mini Moog was the first widely-available ‘performance’ rather than ‘studio’ synthesizer instrument.  The distinctive sound of the Mini Moog is due its 3 available oscillators (most vintage analog monophonic synths have no more than 2) and its 24db per octave filter (in contrast to the less-aggressive 18db per octave filter of its contemporaries).

The Moog Sonic-Six was similar to the Mini Moog, but it has only two oscillators.  Its ‘institutional’ design and built-in amplified speaker highlights its intent as an educational instrument.