What the hell is a Moog?

Bob Moog with his inventions

OMG! A Moog! Is…a synthesizer. You see one pictured here. Moog is actually pronounced “Mohg” – hey MOE-g! But many people say “mooooog” – like a cow with a g. Incorrectly. Just so you know πŸ™‚

Third Option isn’t Moog-centric per se, but it’s a key component in the history of electronic music.

The Moog synth – or series of synths, was invented by a cat named Robert Moog, who, well, you also see pictured above.

There’s a lot of technical, complicated ways to describe a Moog synthesizer, and instruments like it, but for the lay person I think it can best be described like this: It looks like an old telephone operator’s console, where you can plug different wires all around (called patching, which is why the telephone operator would say “I’ll patch you through” and is also why when a musician refers to a certain setting on a synthesizer, they refer call it a “patch”), and end up making a sound kind of like this.

Yeah I know. But you can see it being cool right? Sure you can. This is where “synthesis” and any kind of electronic music was born. Now when you just have the big ‘ol patch module and it’s just constantly buzzing, there’s not too much use for that. But attach something like a keyboard, which was an arbitrary choice btw, and you can now tell it to stop and start and change the pitch and stuff and wam! You can make stuff like this.

Or this: Switched On Bach which was done all on Moog synths. This was incredibly fascinating back in the day, trust me. I remember this being one of the first CDs my parents got when a CD player finally came into our house.

The point, mainly, is when you hear someone talk about a Moog, and you think “WTF?”, just know that it is a synthesizer, kind of the father of synthesizers, and that it sounds like a big ass buzzsaw unless you do something cool, in which case it can sound like a lot of cool stuff, like changing the pitch, whether you’re dealing with a sine wave or a sawtooth wave (what the HELL?), changing the attack, the release, modulation, etc etc etc!! Also know that it’s an ANALOG synthesizer (ooh I just thought of my next “what the hell?”), which is different than a DIGITAL synthesizer (oh the what the hell’s are piling up). Analog synthesizers came first. They use actual electrical signal to make noise, as opposed to using 1s and 0s to communicate to (or from) a computer chip how to make noise.

We’ll talk about those soon, I promise. πŸ™‚ (or do I?)

— Aaron

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