Relentless Beats

Google Doodle Honors Moog Synthesizer Inventor

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the would-be birthday of Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog Synthesizer and undeniable father of electronic music. The Doodle is full interactive featuring a 24 key keyboard and 21 dials to modulate, mix, oscillate, filter, and generate envelopes for every key you press. There’s even a goofy little four-track tape deck so that you can record and play back your creations.

For the uninitiated, the Moog Synthesizer wasn’t necessarily the first synthesizer available, but it was small, light, and versatile popularizing synths and making Moog the father of electronic music. When it was released in the 1960s, synths were otherwise big, bulky, and unintuitive. The Moog was really the first that could be regarded as an “electronic instrument” and has been called the epitome of the whole category. People often think of synthesizers as producing fake or unnatural sounds, but quite the opposite is true of the Moog. With its series of signal generators, oscillators, voltage-regulators, and amplifiers, the Moog is able to shape a sound in almost endless ways in a true analog fashion.

It’s funny to hear this now in the age of Logic and ProTools, but the Minimoog that’s emulated in the Doodle is actually monophonic meaning only one note could be played at a time. And of course, since it existed prior to the microchip, it didn’t have any user memory. In other words, to play a new sound, all the knobs had to be changed. To play back a previous sound, all the knobs had to be manually turned back. And if you wanted to play more than one sound at the same time, then you had to buy more than one Moog. Imagine doing all this over and over again while producing a track!

Although Bob Moog sadly passed away in 2005 at age 71, his synths would eventually be used by The Beatles, Beastie Boys,  Fatboy Slim, Wolfgang Gartner, and even the Black Eyed Peas among many other artists throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Moog Music–the company he founded–still sells several lines of virtual hardware synthesizers. The Minimoog itself is now a collector’s item and sells for as much as a complete digital production setup, but you can pick up Animoog for the iPad in the App Store for only $10 through the end of May.

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