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Minimoog

From Academic Kids

The Minimoog is a monophonic analog synthesizer, invented by Robert Moog. Released in 1970 by the original Moog Music, it was among the first widely available, portable and relatively affordable synthesizers.

Contents

Design

The Minimoog has five sound sources: three voltage-controlled oscillators with switchable waveforms, a noise generator, and an external line input. Each of these sources then passes to a mixer, with independent level controls. The mixed output of the sources is then passed through a voltage-controlled filter and a voltage-controlled amplifier, each of which has its own ADSR envelope generator.

The output of the third oscillator and/or the noise generator can also be routed to the control voltage inputs of the filter and/or oscillators. The amount of pitch or filter modulation thus realized is controlled by the modulation wheel, which is the right one of the two plastic disks located to the left of the keyboard. In this way the third oscillator is frequently used as a low-frequency oscillator to control pitch.

The Minimoog can be played using its in-built, 44-note keyboard, which is equipped with modulation and pitch-bend wheels, or by feeding in an external one-volt-per-octave pitch-control voltage and triggering the envelope generators with a switch. The lowest note played on the keyboard determines the pitch, a condition that is referred to as low-note priority. The envelope generators do not retrigger unless all notes are lifted before the next note is played, an important characteristic which allows phrasing.

The modulation and pitch-bending wheels were an innovation that many instrumentalists found to be extremely playable. The pitch-bend wheel is on the left of the modulation wheel. It is normally kept in the centered position. It is not spring-loaded; the player must return it to the centered position to play in tune. There is a delicate detent mechanism to help the player find the center position tactually. In sharp contrast to later synthesizers that also have pitch-bend wheels, there is no "dead band" near the center of the wheel's travel; the wheel produces minute changes in pitch no matter how slightly it is moved in either direction. The wheel can therefore be used to introduce slight vibrato or nuance, as well as accurate pitch changes.

Usage

Many essential pitch-bending techniques were first demonstrated by Jan Hammer, in his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and especially on Jeff Beck's album Wired. Many keyboardists learned how to pitch-bend by following his example.

Due to the design of its 24dB/octave filter, its three oscillators, and tuning instabilities which tend to keep the oscillators moving against one another, the Minimoog can produce an extremely rich and powerful bass sound. Despite the advent of low-cost digital synthesizers and samplers, the Minimoog remains in high demand with producers and performers of electronic pop and electronic music.

Jazz composer and bandleader Sun Ra used one of the first Minimoogs, a prototype lent him by Moog in 1969: " We loaned it to him and Sun Ras way of working is that when you loan him something you dont expect to see it back." [1] (http://www.sunraresearch.com/html/robert_moog_conversation.html)

The Minimoog was hugely popular in 1970s and 1980s electronic music and used by artists such as

Essential recordings

  • Jeff Beck's album Wired, on which Jan Hammer amply demonstrates pitch-bending technique using the wheel
  • Rick Wakeman's album Six Wives of Henry VIII which clearly demonstrates most of the Minimoog's characteristic sounds

Minimoog Voyager

In November of 2001, Moog Music (then Big Briar) announced that they planned to release an updated version of the Minimoog. The new synthesizer promised to have modern features, yet continue to be authentic to the original sound quality. The company offered a new synthesizer to the customer who could come up with a name for the project. Early in 2002, they announced that the synthesizer would be named the "Minimoog Voyager".

In addition to similar features of the original Minimoog, the the Voyager was designed to have a memory bank capable of storing 128 presets, a touch pad modulation control, dedicated LFO, two modulation busses (one controllable via the modulation wheel and the other with a foot pedal), two ADSR envelopes for filter and amplifier control, a pressure-sensitive keyboard, 14 voltage-control inputs, and MIDI input/output. Unlike the original, the Voyager's modulation busses can be set to affect almost any parameter of the sound, not just the filters. All audio paths in the Voyager are analog with the sound originating from any of three oscillators designed for high tuning stability, as the original Minimoog oscillators tended to slightly shift out of tune while playing. With the Voyager, certain features that were fixed on the original Minimoog can be programmed to suit the player's preference. This includes selection between low-note, high-note or last-note priority. Also, the envelope generators can be set to retrigger with each pressed note or they can be set not to retrigger until all notes are lifted and the next note is played.

The first 600 units could be preordered at the price of US$3495 and featured Bob Moog's personal autograph. The standard edition continues to sell for US$2995. Apart from the signature and price, the models are identical. Wood finish on the models is offered in walnut, cherry or maple.

Late in the summer of 2002, Moog Music began shipping the new Voyagers. Occasionally a new system software release is made available, which can be downloaded from Moog Music's website and sent to the Voyager via MIDI. Recent software versions allow complex internal patching of control voltages, a very powerful and convenient feature for the user. Also available is the VX-351 Voyager Expander, an external box that is wired to the Voyager featuring 25 control-voltage outputs for physical CV patching.

For 2004, Moog Music released a limited Fiftieth Anniversary Edition Voyager. The wood cabinet was painted black and the control panel was backlit using electroluminescent technology. 2005 marked the end of production of these units, however Moog Music continues to sell a backlit model called the Electric Blue that features an iridescent blue cabinet finish. Both of these models have the same sound features of the non-backlit models but sell for US$3295.

See also

External links

fr:Minimoog nl:Minimoog

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