Jon Whittaker | Jan 8, 2019 | 0
Moog: Past, Present and Future
The benchmark of musical synthesis
Some brands remain synonymous with certain types of music. For vintage American rock music, it has to be Fender or Gibson. For folk music, you can’t look past Taylor or Martin acoustics. For electronic music, there can be only one name which comes to mind; Moog.
The American company’s famous line of synths, effects and other out-there musical apparatus has provided the world of electronic music with the tools it has needed since the early 1960s. Countless artists have relied upon Moog’s unique brand of technical wizardry and sonic adventure since then; from Abba to Dr Dre, the iconic brand has been the first port of call for anyone looking to achieve ‘that’ unique Moog sound.
Bob Moog himself was quite a character; he considered himself as more of an engineer than a musician, and his incredible list of academic achievements would certainly back that up. A qualified physicist and electrical engineer, it was with Theremins that Bob first began dabbling with music. From there, his influence began to grow like wildfire, culminating in 1963’s Moog Modular Synthesizer…
Fast forward to 1970, and with experience of producing larger scale units which created a surge of interest in the company, Moog is preparing itself for the launch of its first mass-produced synthesizer, the Minimoog Model D. In the time leading up to this, Bob Moog had pioneered (and gained valuable patents) for things like voltage controlled oscillation (VCO) and ADSR envelope filters (which dictate how a sound builds up and decays), all standard features on synths these days. The ability to stack up oscillating frequencies on top of each other, and then control the way the subsequent sounds were ‘released’ was nothing short of revolutionary at the time.
Musicians of every genre fell over themselves to incorporate this exciting new sound into their arsenal. From classical to disco, via obscure 70’s prog rock, everyone wanted a piece of the Minimoog.
The company’s creations since then have continued to form the foundation of electronic music. In the early 2000’s, a musical paradigm shift saw musicians and producers harking back to the days of classic analogue synthesis and, encouraged by this potential new audience, Bob Moog’s company re-acquired the trading name Moog (having left the company in 1977) and a revitalised product line was developed for this new wave of curious musician.
Modern classics like the Minimoog Voyager, Little Phatty and Minitaur were released, mixing classic Moog technology and engineering with modern features like expanded connectivity. The company branched out further into guitar effects and even iPad apps. Animoog, a wavetable synth engineered especially for Apple’s tablet, is a truly wonderful little sound generator unlike any other on a tablet device.
Unfortunately, Bob Moog wasn’t around to see this new frontier of sonic exploration. The great man passed away in 2005; one wonders what he would have made of the steps being made in music technology these days.
So what of the future for this venerable, iconic musical brand? What new products have they got up their sleeves? Well, since you ask: ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Emerson Moog Modular. We’ve always said portability was over-rated anyway….