|Manufactured by||Moog Music|
|Dates||1970 - 1975,
1977 - 1981
|Oscillator||3 VCOs, white/pink noise|
|LFO||Oscillator 3 can function as LFO|
|Synthesis type||Analog Subtractive|
|Filter||24dB/oct, 4-pole lowpass filter
with cutoff, resonance,
ADS envelope generator,
|Attenuator||ADS envelope generator|
using oscillator 3/noise
|Keyboard||44-note, low-note priority|
|Left-hand control||Pitch bend and mod wheels|
The Minimoog is a monophonic analog synthesizer, invented by Bill Hemsath and Robert Moog. It was released in 1970 by R.A. Moog Inc. (Moog Music after 1972), and production was stopped in 1981. It was re-designed by Robert Moog in 2002 and released as Minimoog Voyager.
The Minimoog was designed in response to the use of synthesizers in rock and pop music. Large modular synthesizers were expensive, cumbersome, and delicate, and not ideal for live performance; the Minimoog was designed to include the most important parts of a modular synthesizer in a compact package, without the need for patch cords. It later surpassed this original purpose, however, and became a distinctive and popular instrument in its own right. It remains in demand today, over four decades after its introduction, for its intuitive design and powerful bass and lead sounds.
At its most basic, the Minimoog control panel can be broken up into three sections:
- The signal generators (the three VCOs or voltage-controlled oscillators and pink or white noise)
- The filter (the VCF or voltage-controlled filter)
- The amplifier (the VCA or voltage-controlled amplifier)
The Minimoog is monophonic (only one note can be played at a time) and its three-oscillator design gave it its famous fat sound. Four prototypes were made over the years before a final design was decided upon to release as a commercial product. The Minimoog Model D adapted some of the circuitry (such as the filter section) from earlier modular instruments, but designed other circuitry (such as the oscillators and contour generators) from scratch. To produce a sound, the musician would first choose a sound shape to be generated from the VCO(s) and/or the type of noise (white or pink). The VCO provides a choice of several switchable waveforms:
- triangle wave
- Reverse sawtooth/ramp wave
- Sawtooth/triangle(only in oscillators 1 and 2/sawtooth wave in oscillator 3)
- square wave
- two different width pulse waves
The signals are routed through the mixer to the VCF (voltage-controlled filter), where harmonic content can be modified and resonance added.
The filtered signal is then routed to the voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA), where its contour is shaped by a dedicated ADS (Attack, Decay/Release, sustain) envelope generator. Part of the appeal of this instrument over the early modular Moogs was that the Minimoog required no patch cables; its signal and control voltage path is hard-wired, or "normalled". While this imposed the signal flow limitation outlined above (VCO → VCF → VCA), there are ways to tweak the sound. For example, in reality, the Minimoog has six sound sources. Five of these sound sources pass to a mixer with independent level controls:
- 3 voltage-controlled oscillators (see above)
- A noise generator
- An external line input
And the VCF can itself be made to oscillate, thus providing the Minimoog's sixth sound source.
The voltage-controlled filter (VCF) and voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) each have their own ADSD envelope generator (or Attack-Decay-Sustain-Decay). Musicians who are familiar with more modern synthesizers might expect the last letter to be R for "Release" (as in ADSR). However, on the Minimoog, the envelopes are ADSD as the Decay setting also sets the time for what's regularly known as Release. In other words, there are three knobs to control 4 sections of the sound (most modern synths have four knobs, one for each section) — a "shortcoming" that doesn't seem to diminish the Minimoog's popularity in any way. There is also a switch above the pitch and modulation wheels to engage the final decay stage as well as a switch for engaging the glide circuit.
The VCF is of transistor ladder type, a design patented by Moog (US 3,475,623). Rumors that Moog had to go to court over the patent seem to be nothing more; 'differences' with ARP at one point were settled amicably.
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 (oscillator modulation) and/or harmonic content (filter cutoff frequency modulation).
The Minimoog can be controlled using its built-in, 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 an inverted switch trigger (S-Trigger in Moog terminology).
External pitch control does not pass through the glide circuit, nor is it presented to the VCF tracking switches — the external inputs were not designed for external keyboard control. 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 re-trigger 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 deadband 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. However, Moog later recommended adding a deadband mod and published this mod in their factory service notes. The detent mechanism can be adjusted somewhat in its strength.
David Borden, an early associate of Moog, has said that the Minimoog "took the synthesizer out of the studio and put it into the concert hall". 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 Ra’s way of working is that when you loan him something you don’t expect to see it back."
Keith Emerson was the first musician to tour with a Minimoog, in 1970, during Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Pictures at an Exhibition shows. Many essential pitch-bending techniques were first demonstrated by him, and many keyboardists learned how to pitch-bend by following his example. He immediately adopted it as one of his main instruments.
Keyboardist Rick Wakeman said of the Minimoog's invention: "For the first time you could go on [stage] and give the guitarist a run for his money...a guitarist would say, 'Oh shoot, he's got a Minimoog', so they're looking for eleven on their volume control - it's the only way they can compete." Wakeman said the instrument "absolutely changed the face of music."
Kraftwerk co-founder Ralf Hutter used a Minimoog on the successful concept album "Autobahn", and the Minimoog was used extensively on many subsequent albums, including "Man machine" and "Computer world". The characteristic "electronic" yet elegant sound of the Minimoog became an important part of the Kraftwerk sound which in turn inspired an entire generation of electronic musicians.
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.
The Minimoog was highly popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and has been used by many artists. For an incomplete list, see List of Moog synthesizer players.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2012)|
- Heart - The song "Magic Man" features notable Minimoog synthesizer usage
- ABBA - Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! bassline was played on Minimoog.
- Metronomy's Joseph Mount plays the Minimoog on The English Riviera featured in the songs "The Look" and "The Bay".
- Rick Wakeman's albums The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (album), The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, White Rock and No Earthly Connection feature great examples of many of the Minimoog's characteristic sounds.
- Yes - many recordings by Yes are notable for their use of the Minimoog, such as the albums Close To The Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Going For The One, Tormato (featuring Rick Wakeman), Relayer (featuring Patrick Moraz), and Drama (featuring Geoff Downes).
- Electric Light Orchestra - the Minimoog was a key instrument in the On the Third Day album, and was added to the band's repertoire for much of their future work.
- Radiohead's 2011 The King Of Limbs From the Basement sessions show Jonny Greenwood playing Minimoog on "Lotus Flower" and Thom Yorke, on "Feral".
- Edward Van Halen played a Minimoog on Van Halen's cover of Martha Martha and the Vandellas' Motown classic Dancing in the Street. The song appears on their 1982 album, Diver Down.
- Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company has re-issued its eponymous 1973 LP on Cuneiform Records containing music by David Borden and Steve Drews. They premiered the Minimoog prototype in New York City at Trinity Church in June 1970. They performed "EASTER" which is a track on this CD.
- PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) - "Impressioni di settembre", the 1971 debut single of this Italian progressive rock band used a Minimoog and was the first Italian hit record to feature a synthesizer.
- Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Keith Emerson used a Minimoog on many Emerson, Lake & Palmer songs such as the basslines for "Karn Evil 9" 1st Impression.
- Paul Davis owned many Minimoogs. He said in an interview it was the most versatile synth ever made. You can hear it on many of his '70s albums.
- Uriah Heep prominently used the Minimoog since their album Magician's Birthday
- The album The Zodiac : Cosmic Sounds is claimed to be the first album to feature the moog synthesizer.
- Jeff Beck's album Wired, on which Jan Hammer demonstrates pitch-bending technique using the wheel.
- Mahavishnu Orchestra (Mark 1) featured keyboard playing by Jan Hammer including prominent use of the Minimoog on the album Birds Of Fire.
- Happy The Man's self-titled debut album, on which Kit Watkins Minimoog performances are featured throughout.
- Kraftwerk's 1974 album Autobahn, which was a revolutionary record in the development of electronic music.
- Passport's 1975 album Cross-Collateral. The Minimoog is featured throughout this brilliant Jazz-Fusion recording.
- In 1976 Mother Mallard issued LP Like a Duck to Water
- Synergy's Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra, recorded with a Minimoog, an Oberheim expander module controlled by an early Oberheim DS-2 digital sequencer and a Mellotron. Also, the second album, Sequencer has several Minimoog and Moog 15 modular synthesizer-based compositions.
- Mando Lichtenberger, Jr of La Mafia used on Grammy Winning albums Un Million De Rosas and Vida
- Devo used a Minimoog heavily on their first three albums and early singles, notably on the songs "Mongoloid" and "Jocko Homo".
- Gary Numan's 1979 album Replicas (under the name Tubeway Army) is essentially built around the Minimoog. His follow-up releases The Pleasure Principle (1979) and Telekon (1980) also heavily feature the instrument.
- Michael Jackson used two Minimoogs combined to create the bass sound of the Thriller album's title track released in 1982.
- Manfred Mann's Earth Band made the Minimoog an integral part of their sound, especially in their mid-1970s recordings.
- Geddy Lee of Rush used a Minimoog on several Rush albums, from 1977's A Farewell to Kings to 1982's Signals. On the live release Exit...Stage Left, Lee can be heard manually "tweaking" the dials to produce unusual sounds in the space between songs "The Trees" and "Xanadu". Additionally, the solos on "Tom Sawyer" and "Subdivisions" were done on the Minimoog.
- Tony Hymas used the MiniMoog quite a lot on the Ph.D. album Is It Safe.
- Funkadelic and Parliament used a Minimoog played by Bernie Worrell on various hits including "Flash Light" (which created the song's distinctive bassline).
- Hot Butter played their song "Popcorn" on a vintage Minimoog at a surprise appearance at the L.L. Bean in Free Port, Maine.
- Shooter Jennings uses a Mini-Moog during live performances after releasing his Synth-filled album Black Ribbons.
- Eduardo Parra of Los Jaivas used a Minimoog in the 1977's Album Cancion del Sur, 1981's Alturas de Macchu Picchu, 1982's Aconcagua and 1984's Obras de Violeta Parra.
- Richard Wright of Pink Floyd used a Minimoog mainly during the song Shine on you Crazy Diamond
- Robert Lamm of Chicago you can hear the Moog on I've been searching so long and most of their 70s work
- Arjen Anthony Lucassen's 2013 Ayreon album "The Theory of Everything (album)" features two modular Moog solos, one by Keith Emerson in track 7 (Progressive Waves) and the second by Rick Wakeman in track 16 (Surface Tension).
- Various versions of minimoogs
- "Chronology 1953-1993". Moog history. MoogArchives.com.
- Moog patents
- US Patent 3475623 R. A. Moog, Electronic High-pass and Low-pass Filters Employing the Base-to-Emitter Resistance of Bipolar Transistors, issued October 1969 (PDF)
- Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco, Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer. Harvard University Press, 2004, p. 263. ISBN 0-674-01617-3
- Franklin Crawford (August 23, 2005). "Robert Moog, Ph.D. '64, inventor of the music synthesizer, dies of brain cancer". Cornell University News Service. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
- Hans Fjellestad (2004). Moog
- "MiniMoog SN history". The Loads of the Mini. Retrieved 2013-09-15. "There were not only 2 versions of the Minimoog D but 6 ! 1/ For the very first R.A Moog model D (1970) ... 2/ The next ones “D” are still R.A Moog Model, always have discrete VCO (1970) but are cosmetically a little bit different from the first ones. ... 3/ Minimoog D Musonic.(1971) R.A Moog Cie became Musonic Cie when R.A had to merge with Musonic cie. ... 4/ Minimoog D Moog Music (1972). These ones are the “famous” old osc. board but these osc board are not at all the same as the RA & Musonic. ... 5/ Moog perfected the Minimoog by issuing a revised osc. circuit board which gave far improved stability and added a new “buffer board”, which gave better stability. All Mini with serial number greater than 10175 have the newer osc. board."
Early R.A. Moog Model D slightly resembles Model C without modulation wheel, and later R.A. Moog Model D has factory installed white or black name plate.