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Moog synthesizer

Related: synthesizer - Perrey and Kingsley - Wendy Carlos

Exotic Moog (1969) - Martin Denny
image sourced here. [May 2005]

Unidentified Moog photograph


The term Moog synthesizer can refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Dr. Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moog_synthesizer [Feb 2006]

Kraftwerk buys Moog in c. 1973-74

At the same time [1973-74], Kraftwerk bought a Moog synthesizer, which enabled them to harness their long electronic pieces to a drum machine. The first fruit of this was "Autobahn," a 22-minute motorway journey, from the noises of a car starting up to the hum of cooling machinery. In 1975, an edited version of "Autobahn" was a top 10 hit. It wasn't the first synth hit --that honor belongs to Gershon Kingsley's hissing "Popcorn," performed by studio group Hot Butter-- but it wasn't a pure novelty either. -- (Jon Savage 1993)

Sun Ra

And if you listen to Sun Ra's Astro Black, those are exactly the sounds he's making with his Moog, he's literally turning the Moog synthesizer into something like a circuit which can literally act as a giant alternating current between the people listening, between the Arkestra, and between the cosmos itself. The Moog is the kind of amplifier that directs current in and out. On one hand, there's a very material way in which he does that because of the actual Moogy sounds are really similar to, if not identical to, the sounds of the cosmos. So it's really fascinating, because if I see it in that way, then things Sun Ra often said, like "I am an instrument" and "the Arkestra is an instrument". On one hand, he said the Arkestra were tone scientists, sonic scientists, on the other, the Arkestra were his instruments. So you get this idea of music as this sonic production circuit which, as Deleuze was saying, molecules of a new people may be planted here or there. Something like that, Deleuze said. That's very much what Sun Ra's doing: he's using the Moog to produce a new sonic people. Out of this circuit, he's using it to produce a new astro black American of the 70s. -- Kodwo Eshun in fringecore magazine http://www.ccru.net/swarm1/1_motion.htm [2004]

Tonto's Expanding Head Band

image sourced here. [May 2005]

Two musicians with different roots and extractions, Malcolm Cecil and Albert (Bob) Margouleff meet after both have pursued different paths, both driven by their interest in the same instrument: the Model III Moog Synthesizer.

Malcolm Cecil is a British jazzman of value, who works during obscure years (the 60's) with Mike Gibbs, Stan Tracey and no one less than Mike Westbrook. After a brief and sterile interlude at BBC (Brrrrr....), he will work as a sound engineer and he will have the merit to introduce at the Marquee the 4-tracks recording system. With the money earned at BBC he will travel through Africa and Asia, experimenting with traditional instruments and musical structures from those Continents. His journey seems to stop in Singapore, but with the last BBC money he jumps to the USA, where he will earn his bread at the Mediasound Studios.

There, he will meet an excellent Moog Synthesizer programmer, Albert (Bob) Margouleff. Tonto's Expanding Head Band sees the light.

Zero Time is actually the only valuable album they make (if we exclude some "singles" and other unofficial recordings). To be precise, they'll make also an LP with the title It's about time, but this is a product that will follow later on, insecure and where not even the two musicians will sound like their old self, in an attempt to explore ways that they already left years ago.

Zero Time moves about the research of sound and musical theory that could be compared with the one of Beaver & Krause. However, the duo Cecil/Margouleff moves inside some more complicated harmonics, that combine the pure technical exploration of the electronic instrument (the Moog III) with the some more complex variations in the field of musical theory and influences from other harmonic structures (mostly from Asia), without forgetting some pure and simple mathematics.

Aurora is a simple composition that uses tonal shifts of a whole octave that are moved along one single note. Each one results in a 35 seconds long phrase. Riversong is modulated on an octave with 17 tonal shifts (instead of the 12 normally used), making it sound like an Indian Raga (using, more or less, the same structure). Despite of all these theoretical musical components, their music has a high emotional impact and it's far from being just a sterile exploration of musical composition techniques. And their sincerity is a fact. Both aim to interlace different musical structure into one that leaves the listener free of associate the music with emotional states and even meditation, without falling into the sterile use of electronics or a false sense of meditative state.

Unfortunately, the market is not wide enough to guarantee the economical survival of their music. They will be found, some years later (1974), in the more commercial Ravi Shankar & Family, produced by George Harrison. This project will mark the beginning of the worst kind of cultural contamination that will ever wash upon the musical scene and will involve many big names, like John McLaughlin among the most famous, in this forced pursue of the "Indian dream" that will try to transport thousands of people into a culture that can impossibly fit into the schemes of the Western one, resulting only in an alienation from reality and in an escape from all kind of contact between the listener and the real world.

Once more, a very interesting musical product is obliterated by a matter of "fashion". --http://home.versatel.nl/rdans59/Recensions_8.htm [May 2005]

TONTO, Malcom Cecil, Robert Margouleff, who co-produced Stevie Wonder's 'Innervisions' and 'Talking Book' albums, not forgetting Syreeta Wonder's album.

Synthesizers are so pervasive an element in popular music of all types today that it's easy to forget what a novelty they were only 25 years ago. The first and most influential recording was from Tonto's Expanding Head Band in 1971, titled Zero Time. TONTO=The Original New Timbral Orchestra

Analog Days : The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (2002) - Frank Trocco, Trevor Pinch, Robert Moog

    Analog Days : The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (2002) - Frank Trocco, Trevor Pinch, Robert Moog [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    In Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (Harvard University Press; October 30, 2002; $29.95), Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco tell the story of the invention of the Moog electronic synthesizer, the people who created it, and its impact upon music and popular culture. The book focuses on what Pinch and Trocco call the "analog days"--the early years of the synthesizer, between 1964 and the mid-1970s, before the technology went digital. The authors trace the development of the Moog synthesizer from its first conception as a huge modular instrument for studio use though to the Minimoog--the first portable keyboard instrument typical of today's synthesizers. As they relate the history, Pinch and Trocco show how electronic sounds, once considered marginal or weird, entered our mainstream culture, producing a revolution in the way that music is produced and consumed. Harvard Press pressrelease via

    see also: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/PINANA.html

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