It seems like all you have to do is change the course of modern music forever, and Google will put one of their best ‘doodles’ on their homepage for you on your birthday.
Bob Moog was, believe it or not, the founder of Moog (RA Moog Co, which became Moog Music) and the inventor of the Moog synthesiser. There have been various models of Moog, from grand modular versions to the simple, but beautiful, Minimoog. Unfortunately he passed away due to a brain tumour on the 21st of August 2005, but today – the 23rd of May – would have been Bob Moog’s 78th birthday. Let’s take a quick little look at the man, his influence on modern music, and how you can get some Moog sounds in your music!
The Moog Sound
Perhaps the biggest reason the ‘Moog sound’ is so revered is the ladder filter that Bob developed in the late 1960s and installed on the Minimoog. Rather than a ‘perfect’ design, the Moog filter is actually – deliberately – a little flawed, and creates some distortion; this musically pleasing distortion is a huge contributing factor to the thickness of Moog synths and a great lesson to use your heart rather than your head (or perhaps your ears rather than your eyes) when making music. We listen to it, when all’s said and done, after all…
- Bob Moog held a pHd in Engineering Physics from Cornell University.
- Moog rhymes with ‘vogue’, not ‘fugue’. Not that anybody seems to care.
- For legal reasons, Bob Moog didn’t have rights to use his own name for his creations in the 1990s. Ouch.
- Bob Moog was a big fan of Theremins (those whiny, proximity sensing synths) – his interest in them kicked off his entire career, and developing and selling them was his income during his college years.
- For years Bob drove a Toyota Wagon painted with vines, a fish blowing bubbles, and a snail.
Get some Moog in Your Life!
Considering a working, well serviced model will set you back well over £2500 – plus the extras you’ll need to get it to play nice in a modern studio – you mightn’t have the cash to give a home to a classic Minimoog or Moog Modular (and in the case of the Modular, the space!), but there are plenty of ways you can get in on the Moog sound. The Moog Little Phatty is the last Moog product to have Bob’s design input but it will still set you back around £1100, or perhaps the recently released Minitaur will appeal at under £500.
Or… you could always get a software emulation!
Steinberg Model E
Steinberg’s Model E is an emulation of the Minimoog (Model D). It’s not the greatest sounding synth of all time, but it’s pretty good for what it costs… yep, you guessed it. Free! Download it!
This is probably the best software Minimoog money can buy. It’s not cheap at $250, but it’s a damn sight cheaper than the real thing and it does even more than the original – polyphony included. You can even download a fully functional 15 day demo… Download it!
IK Multimedia SampleMoog
Developed in collaboration with Moog Music, SampleMoog is a massive library of Moog sample patches; if software emulation just won’t do, actual Moog samples (every classic model is represented) may be more up your street. Again this isn’t cheap at €169, but there’s a demo that you can test out to see whether you’re convinced. Download it!
We reviewed Animoog for iPad a while back, and Moog have just released it for iPhone. We wish it was available as a plugin for DAWs, but the sound from Animoog is so good that it’s worth recording in as audio. It’s not so much an emulation of a classic Moog, but it’s definitely Moog quality. Better still, it’s on offer until the 29th of May, with the iPhone version only 99cents! Get it from Moog!
We’ll wrap up with a quote that we think sums up the importance of using a synth – or any equipment – to allow you to do more, not less. Happy Birthday Bob Moog!
“The audience expects a musician to be doing something and if he’s not doing as much as they expect, it’s more showbiz than music”
- Bob Moog on the conundrum that electronic musicians that sequence their music are faced with (from Don Snowdon’s LA Times interview, 1981)