Moog synthesizer

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This article is about the modular synthesizers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_0

For other synthesizers manufactured by Moog, see Moog Music § Major products. Moog synthesizer_sentence_1

Moog synthesizer_table_infobox_0

Moog synthesizerMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_0_0
ManufacturerMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_1_0 R. A. Moog Co.Moog synthesizer_cell_0_1_1
DatesMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_2_0 1965—1980Moog synthesizer_cell_0_2_1
Technical specificationsMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_3_0
OscillatorMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_4_0 VCOMoog synthesizer_cell_0_4_1
Synthesis typeMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_5_0 SubtractiveMoog synthesizer_cell_0_5_1
FilterMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_6_0 VCFMoog synthesizer_cell_0_6_1
Input/outputMoog synthesizer_header_cell_0_7_0

The Moog synthesizer is a modular synthesizer developed by the American engineer Robert Moog. Moog synthesizer_sentence_2

Moog debuted it in 1964, and Moog's company R. Moog synthesizer_sentence_3 A. Moog Co. (later known as Moog Music) produced numerous models from 1965 to 1980. Moog synthesizer_sentence_4

It was the first commercial synthesizer, and is credited with creating the analog synthesizer as it is known today. Moog synthesizer_sentence_5

By 1963, Moog had been designing and selling theremins for several years. Moog synthesizer_sentence_6

He began developing the Moog synthesizer in response to demand for more practical and affordable electronic music equipment, guided by suggestions and requests from composers including Herb Deutsch, Richard Teitelbaum, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Wendy Carlos. Moog synthesizer_sentence_7

Moog's principal innovation was to use voltage to control pitch via a voltage-controlled oscillator. Moog synthesizer_sentence_8

He also introduced fundamental synthesizer concepts such as modularity and envelope generation. Moog synthesizer_sentence_9

The synthesizer consists of separate modules—such as voltage-controlled oscillators, amplifiers and filters, envelope generators, noise generators, ring modulators, triggers and mixers—which create and shape sounds, and can be connected via patch cords. Moog synthesizer_sentence_10

It can be played using controllers including musical keyboards, joysticks, pedals, and ribbon controllers, or controlled with sequencers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_11

Its oscillators can produce waveforms of different timbres, which can be modulated and filtered to produce more combinations of sounds (subtractive synthesis). Moog synthesizer_sentence_12

The Moog synthesizer was brought to the mainstream by Switched-On Bach (1968), a bestselling album of Bach compositions arranged for Moog synthesizer by Wendy Carlos. Moog synthesizer_sentence_13

In the late 1960s, it was adopted by rock and pop acts including the Doors, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. Moog synthesizer_sentence_14

At its height of popularity, it was a staple of 1970s progressive rock, used by acts including Yes, Tangerine Dream, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_15

In 1970, Moog Music released a portable, self-contained model, the Minimoog. Moog synthesizer_sentence_16

Development Moog synthesizer_section_0

In the early 1960s, electronic music technology was impractical and used mainly by experimental composers to create music with little mainstream appeal. Moog synthesizer_sentence_17

In 1963, American engineer Robert Moog, who designed and sold theremins, met composer Herb Deutsch at a New York State School Music Association trade fair. Moog synthesizer_sentence_18

Deutsch had been making electronic music using a theremin, tape recorder, and single-pitch oscillator, a time-consuming process that involved splicing tape. Moog synthesizer_sentence_19

Recognizing the need for more practical and sophisticated equipment, Moog and Deutsch discussed the notion of a "portable electronic music studio". Moog synthesizer_sentence_20

Moog received a grant of $16,000 from the New York State Small Business Association and began work in Trumansburg, New York. Moog synthesizer_sentence_21

At the time, synthesizer-like instruments filled rooms; Moog hoped to build a more compact instrument that would appeal to musicians. Moog synthesizer_sentence_22

Learning from his experience building a prohibitively expensive guitar amplifier, he believed that practicality and affordability were the most important parameters. Moog synthesizer_sentence_23

Previous synthesizers, such as the RCA Mark II, had created sound from hundreds of vacuum tubes. Moog synthesizer_sentence_24

Instead, Moog used recently available silicon transistors — specifically, a transistor with an exponential relationship between input voltage and output current. Moog synthesizer_sentence_25

With this, he created the voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO), which generated a waveform whose pitch could be adjusted by changing the voltage. Moog synthesizer_sentence_26

Moog designed his synthesizer around a standard of one volt per octave. Moog synthesizer_sentence_27

Similarly, he used voltage to control loudness with voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs). Moog synthesizer_sentence_28

Moog developed a prototype with two VCOs and a VCA. Moog synthesizer_sentence_29

As the VCOs themselves could output voltage, one could be used to modulate the output of another, creating effects such as vibrato and tremolo. Moog synthesizer_sentence_30

According to Moog, when Deutsch saw this, he "went through the roof" and immediately began making music with the prototype, attracting the interest of passersby: "They would stand there, they’d listen and they’d shake their heads ... What is this weird shit coming out of the basement?" Moog synthesizer_sentence_31

In 1964, Moog and Deutsch demonstrated the synthesizer at the electronic music studio at the University of Toronto. Moog synthesizer_sentence_32

After the presentation impressed the composers, Moog was invited by the Audio Engineering Society to present at their annual convention in New York that October. Moog synthesizer_sentence_33

Though he had not planned to sell synthesizers there, some customers placed orders at the show. Moog synthesizer_sentence_34

The choreographer Alwin Nikolais became the first person to purchase a commercially made Moog synthesizer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_35

Moog constructed synthesizers to order. Moog synthesizer_sentence_36

The first order for a complete Moog synthesizer, for which Moog had to design a keyboard and cabinet, came from composer Eric Siday. Moog synthesizer_sentence_37

With no Moog books and no way to save or share settings, early users had to learn how to use the synthesizer themselves, by word of mouth, or from seminars held by Moog and Deutsch. Moog synthesizer_sentence_38

Moog refined the synthesizer in response to requests from musicians and composers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_39

For example, after Deutsch suggested Moog find a way to fade notes in and out, Moog invented an envelope module, using a doorbell button as a prototype. Moog synthesizer_sentence_40

At the suggestion of composer Gustav Ciamaga, Moog developed a filter module, a means of removing frequencies from waveforms. Moog synthesizer_sentence_41

His first filter design created a sound similar to a wah-wah pedal; he later developed the distinctive "ladder" filter, which was the only item in the synthesizer design that Moog patented, granted on October 28, 1969. Moog synthesizer_sentence_42

Further developments were driven by suggestions from musicians including Richard Teitelbaum, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Wendy Carlos; it was Carlos who suggested the first touch-sensitive keyboard, portamento control, and filter bank, which became standard features. Moog synthesizer_sentence_43

Moog initially avoided the word synthesizer, as it was associated with the RCA synthesizer, and instead described his invention as a "system" of "electronic music modules". Moog synthesizer_sentence_44

The classical meaning of "to synthesize" is to assemble a whole out of parts. Moog synthesizer_sentence_45

After many debates, Moog eventually told composer Reynold Weidenaar: "It’s a synthesizer and that's what it does and we're just going to have to go with it." Moog synthesizer_sentence_46

Moog used the word synthesizer in print for the first time in 1966. Moog synthesizer_sentence_47

By the 1970s, "synthesizer" had become the standard term for such instruments. Moog synthesizer_sentence_48

There was also debate as to the role of the keyboard in synthesizers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_49

Some, such as composer Vladimir Ussachevsky and Moog's competitor Don Buchla, felt they were restrictive. Moog synthesizer_sentence_50

However, Moog recognized that most customers wanted keyboards and found it helped make the instrument approachable; by including keyboards in photographs, it helped users understand that the synthesizer was for making music. Moog synthesizer_sentence_51

Moog also developed alternative controllers, such as the ribbon controller, which allows users to control pitch similarly to moving a finger along a violin string. Moog synthesizer_sentence_52

Most of the Moog modules were finalized by the end of the 1960s and remained mostly unchanged until Moog Music ceased trading in the 1980s. Moog synthesizer_sentence_53

Moog had pursued the development of his synthesizer as a hobby; he stressed that he was not a businessman, and had not known what a balance sheet was. Moog synthesizer_sentence_54

He likened the experience to riding theme park amusements: "You know you're not going to get hurt too badly because nobody would let you do that, but you’re not quite in control." Moog synthesizer_sentence_55

Components Moog synthesizer_section_1

The Moog synthesizer consists of separate modules – such as oscillators, amplifiers, envelope generators, filters, noise generators, ring modulators, triggers and mixers – which can be connected in a variety of ways via patch cords. Moog synthesizer_sentence_56

The modules can also be used to control each other. Moog synthesizer_sentence_57

The Moog does not produce sound until a workable combination of modules are connected. Moog synthesizer_sentence_58

The synthesizer can be played using controllers including keyboards, joysticks, pedals, and ribbon controllers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_59

The oscillators can produce different waveforms with different tones and overtones, such as a "bright, full, brassy" sawtooth wave, a thinner, flute-like triangle wave, a "nasal, reedy" pulse wave, and a "whistle-like" sine wave. Moog synthesizer_sentence_60

These waveforms can be modulated and filtered to produce more combinations of sounds (subtractive synthesis). Moog synthesizer_sentence_61

The oscillators were difficult to keep in tune, and small temperature changes would cause them to drift rapidly. Moog synthesizer_sentence_62

As Moog's early customers were more interested in creating experimental music than playing conventional melodies, Moog did not consider keeping the oscillators stable a priority. Moog synthesizer_sentence_63

The Moog's 24db low-pass filter is particularly distinctive, with a "rich", "juicy", "fat" sound. Moog synthesizer_sentence_64

The filter, based on pairs of transistors connected by capacitors arranged in a ladder-like layout, attenuates frequencies above a level set by the user. Moog synthesizer_sentence_65

and boosts the frequencies around the cut-off frequency. Moog synthesizer_sentence_66

When overdriven, the filter produces a rich distortion described as "the Moog sound". Moog synthesizer_sentence_67

Impact Moog synthesizer_section_2

The Moog was much smaller than previous synthesizers, and much cheaper, at $10,000USD compared to the six-figure sums of other synthesizers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_68

Whereas the RCA Mark II was programmed with punchcards, Moog's synthesizer could be played in real time via keyboard, making it attractive to musicians. Moog synthesizer_sentence_69

New Scientist described it as the first commercial synthesizer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_70

According to the authors of Analog Days, "Though the notion of voltage control and Moog's circuit designs were not original, Moog's innovations were in drawing the elements together, realizing that the problem of exponential conversion could be solved using transistor circuitry and building such circuits and making them work in a way that was of interest to musicians." Moog synthesizer_sentence_71

Most Moog synthesizers were owned by universities or record labels, and used to create soundtracks or jingles; by 1970, only 28 were owned by musicians. Moog synthesizer_sentence_72

The Moog was first used by experimental composers including Richard Teitelbaum, Dick Hyman and Wendy Carlos. Moog synthesizer_sentence_73

In 1968, Carlos released Switched-On Bach, an album of Bach compositions arranged for Moog synthesizer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_74

It won three Grammy Awards and was the first classical album certified platinum. Moog synthesizer_sentence_75

The album is credited for popularising the Moog and demonstrating that synthesizers could be more than "random noise machines". Moog synthesizer_sentence_76

An early use in rock music came with the 1967 Monkees album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. In 1969, George Harrison of the Beatles released an album of Moog recordings, Electronic Sound, and that year the Moog appeared on the Beatles album Abbey Road on tracks including "Because", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". Moog synthesizer_sentence_77

Other rock bands who adopted the Moog include the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. Moog synthesizer_sentence_78

It was also adopted by jazz musicians including Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer and Sun Ra. Moog synthesizer_sentence_79

For a period, the name Moog became so associated with electronic music that it was sometimes used as a generic term for any synthesizer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_80

Numerous novelty records were recorded with titles such as Moog Espana, Moog Power and Music to Moog By. Moog synthesizer_sentence_81

Moog said in 1969: "I like the idea of my name becoming a generic term for the synthesizer, but I don't like the fact that cruddy records are being put out with my name attached." Moog synthesizer_sentence_82

He felt there were "maybe 25 people in the world who have the necessary competence in both physics and music" to play the Moog well. Moog synthesizer_sentence_83

In the 1970s, at the height of the Moog's popularity, it became ubiquitous as part of progressive rock bands such as Yes, Tangerine Dream, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_84

Keith Emerson was the first major rock musician to perform live with the Moog, and it became a trademark of his performances; according to Analog Days, the likes of Emerson "did for the keyboard what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar". Moog synthesizer_sentence_85

In later decades, hip hop groups such as the Beastie Boys and rock bands including They Might Be Giants and Wilco "have revived an interest in the early Moog synthesizer timbres". Moog synthesizer_sentence_86

The Guardian wrote that the Moog synthesizer, with its dramatically new sounds, arrived at a time in American history when, in the wake of the Vietnam War, "nearly everything about the old order was up for revision". Moog synthesizer_sentence_87

With its ability to imitate instruments such as strings and horns, synthesizers threatened the jobs of session musicians. Moog synthesizer_sentence_88

For a period, the Moog was banned from use in commercial work, a restriction negotiated by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). Moog synthesizer_sentence_89

Robert Moog felt that the AFM had not realized that the synthesizer was an instrument to be learnt and mastered like any other, and instead imagined that "all the sounds that musicians could make somehow existed in the Moog — all you had to do was push a button that said 'Jascha Heifetz' and out would come the most fantastic violin player". Moog synthesizer_sentence_90

Moog features such as voltage-controlled oscillator, envelopes, noise generators, filters, and sequencers became standards in the synthesizer market. Moog synthesizer_sentence_91

The ladder filter has been replicated in hardware synthesizers, as well in digital signal processors, field-programmable gate arrays, and software synthesizers. Moog synthesizer_sentence_92

According to the Guardian, Moog's 1964 paper Voltage-Controlled Music Modules, in which he proposed the Moog synthesizer modules, invented the modern concept of the analog synthesizer. Moog synthesizer_sentence_93

Successors Moog synthesizer_section_3

In 1970, Moog Music released the Minimoog, a portable, self-contained model, and the modular systems became a secondary part of Moog's business. Moog synthesizer_sentence_94

The Minimoog has been described as the most famous and influential synthesizer in history. Moog synthesizer_sentence_95

After the sale of Moog Music, production of Moog synthesizers stopped in the early 1980s. Moog synthesizer_sentence_96

The patents and other rights to Moog's modular circuits expired in the 1990s. Moog synthesizer_sentence_97

In 2002, after Robert Moog regained the rights to the Moog brand and bought the company, Moog released the Minimoog Voyager, an updated version. Moog synthesizer_sentence_98

In 2016, Moog released a new version of the original Minimoog. Moog synthesizer_sentence_99

See also Moog synthesizer_section_4

Moog synthesizer_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: synthesizer.