Paste Sessions: Live At Moog

Moog Music and Paste Magazine have launched an innovative new web video series featuring performances filmed at the legendary Moog Music factory in Asheville, North Carolina. Bands were given access to the Moog factory to explore and experiment with the dozens of synthesizers, guitars and effect pedals designed and manufactured here. Often the artists rearrange their songs to showcase the otherworldly sounds of Moog’s instruments, yielding a performance unlike any other.

Each week a new session will debut on Paste’s homepage. The first season features Yo La Tengo, Brooklyn indie rockers White Rabbits, reggae star Matisyahu, New York jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, songwriters Erin McKeown and Jill Sobule, live-electronica artist Pretty Lights, Widespread Panic keyboardist Jojo Hermann and jam-rock stalwarts, moe.

The second season starts off with Amanda Palmer on March 31, followed by Umphrey’s McGee, RJD2, Joseph Arthur and many more popping by to noodle on everything Moog has to offer. “Band after band walk in and their eyes light up at all the gear and let out a spontaneous ‘WOW!,” says series producer Zac Altheimer, “We’ve literally had to push folks out the door to make it to their soundcheck that night.” Expect plenty of synthesizer, otherworldly Moog guitar and the debut of the latest Moog offering, an update of the legendary Taurus bass pedal, which has already floored a few guests of the factory.  Watch a few episodes from the first season and find out more about the history of the Moog after the jump…

Watch Episode 3 – Medeski, Martin & Wood

Moog synthesizer may refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Dr. Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music, and is commonly used as a generic term for analog and digital music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled analog synthesizer systems in the early 1950s. The technological development that led to the creation of the Moog synthesizer was the invention of the transistor, which enabled researchers like Moog to build electronic music systems that were considerably smaller, cheaper and far more reliable than earlier vacuum tube-based systems.

The Moog synthesizer began to gain wider attention in the music industry after it was demonstrated at the epochal Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967. Electronic music pioneers Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause had bought one of Moog’s first synthesizers in 1966 and had spent a fruitless year trying to interest Hollywood studios in its use for movie soundtracks. In June 1967 they set up a booth at the Monterey festival to demonstrate the Moog, and it attracted the interest of several of the major acts who attended, including The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel. This quickly built into a steady stream of studio session work in Los Angeles and a recording contract with Warner Brothers.

Watch Episode 5 – Jojo Hermann (Widespread Panic)

The first rock recordings to feature the Moog synthesizer were Strange Days by The Doors, released in September 1967, followed by Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees and Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac, both released in November 1967, The Notorious Byrd Brothers by The Byrds (January 1968) and Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends (April 1968). Buck Owens made the second purchase of the Moog, his longtime collaborator Jeff Haskell recording Switched On Buck, an album of Owens material recorded entirely on the Moog and released by Capitol Records in 1971. (Carlos purchased the first and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees purchased the third model).

At this early stage the Moog synthesizer was still widely perceived as a novel form of electronic keyboard, not unlike the Mellotron, which had appeared a few years earlier. Most early Moog appearances on popular recordings tended to make limited use of the synthesizer, exploiting the new device for its novel sonic qualities, and it was generally only used to augment or ‘color’ standard rock arrangements, rather than as an alternative to them—as for example in its use by Simon and Garfunkel on their 1968 LP Bookends and The Beatles‘ final studio album Abbey Road. Other notable musicians and artists that pioneered the Moog synthesizer movement include Pink Floyd and Stevie Wonder.

Watch Episode 7 – Pretty Lights
(He also uses a Monome frequently)

A more portable version was created and the “Minimoog” was played by a number of musicians, most notably by Jan Hammer in the Mahavishnu Orchestra beginning in 1971. The Mini Moog proved versatile enough to allow Hammer to solo with equal musicality/facility to that of his colleagues John McLaughlin on guitar and Jerry Goodman on violin . Avant garde jazz musician Sun Ra often used the Moog as his instrument of choice to achieve his unique sound. A custom Moog Modular System was also featured prominently on Emerson, Lake & Palmer‘s song “Lucky Man,” Keith Emerson‘s Moog solo at the end making it arguably the group’s most popular piece. Another famous use of the Moog was in Tangerine Dream‘s electronic landmark album Phaedra in 1974, which was a major hit in the UK—it reached #15 on the British album charts and playing a significant role in establishing the fledgling independent label Virgin Records.

In 1974 the German electronic group Kraftwerk further popularized the sound of the synthesizer with their landmark album Autobahn, which used several types of synthesizer including a Minimoog. A single featuring an edited version of the title track became an international hit in early 1975, reaching #25 in the USA and #11 in the UK. Gary Wright was one of the first musicians to perfect the Moog sound on his album Waiting to Catch the Light.

Watch Episode 8 – moe.

The Minimoog was the first product to really solidify the synthesizer’s popular image as a “keyboard” instrument and it became the most popular monophonic synthesizer of the 1970s, selling approximately 13,000 units between 1971 and 1982, and it was quickly taken up by leading rock and electronic music groups such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Tangerine Dream and Gary Numan. Although the popularity of analog synthesis faded in the 1980s with the advent of affordable digital synthesizers and sampling keyboards, the Minimoog remained a sought-after instrument for producers and recording artists, and it continued to be used extensively on electronic, techno, dance and disco recordings into the 1980s due to its distinctive tonal qualities, particularly that of its patented Moog “ladder” filter.

A widely used and extremely popular Moog synthesizer was the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer. Released in 1975, its 13-note pedalboard was similar in design to small spinet organ pedals and triggered bold, penetrating synthesized bass sounds. The Taurus was known for an especially “fat” bass timbre and was used by the bands Genesis, Rush, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Pink Floyd, Parliament-Funkadelic, and many others. Production of the original was discontinued in 1981, when it was replaced by the Taurus II, which never achieved the popularity of its predecessor. In November 2009, Moog Music introduced the limited production Moog Taurus 3 pedal synthesizer, which, the company reports, exactly duplicates the original Taurus I timbre and presets, while adding modern features such as velocity sensitivity, greatly expanded memory for user presets, a backlit LCD display, and MIDI and USB interfacing. Still, the original Taurus I units are highly sought after and typically command a high resale value on the used market.

Moog Music was the first company to commercially release a keytar, the Moog Liberation. The last Moog synthesizer released by the original Moog Music, the programmable polyphonic Memorymoog (and subsequent Memorymoog Plus), was manufactured from 1983 to 1985, just before the company declared bankruptcy in 1986. By the mid-1990s, analog synthesizers were again highly sought after and prized for their classic sound. In 2001, Robert Moog’s company Big Briar was able to acquire the rights to the Moog name and officially became Moog Music. Moog Music has been producing the Minimoog Voyager modeled after the original Minimoog since 2002. As of 2006, more than 15 companies are making Moog-style synthesizer modules.

In March 2006, Moog Music unveiled the Little Phatty Analog Synthesizer, boasting “hand-built quality and that unmatched Moog sound, at a price every musician can afford”. The first limited edition run of 1200 were a Bob Moog Tribute Edition with a Performer edition announced subsequently. In 2009, a number of Moog products can still be purchased, such as Moogerfoogers and Minimoogs. The Minimoog is so popular, in fact, that they regularly sell for over $3000 on online auction sites like eBay.

Via wikipedia

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~ by cdowell4 on March 29, 2010.

3 Responses to “Paste Sessions: Live At Moog”

  1. […] will go on sale July 30th.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated, and in the meantime, click here to learn more about Moog Synthesizers and check out some cool videos of different artists […]

  2. […] – the annual event honoring the remarkable vision of Robert Moog and his amazing musical inventions that changed the course of music – is reinventing itself. This year, MoogFest 2010 will move from […]

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