|Dates||1974/1975 - 1981|
|Synthesis type||Analog subtractive|
|Filter||24dB/Oct Moog low-pass|
|Memory||3 preset sounds, 1 variable|
|Dates||1981 - 1983|
|Synthesis type||Analog subtractive|
|Left-hand control||pitch bend and mod wheels|
|External control||CV/Gate outputs|
The Moog Taurus is a foot-operated analog synthesizer designed and manufactured by Moog Music from 1974 or 1975 to 1981. Sometimes called the Taurus I to differentiate it from later models, it has a 13-note organ-style pedal board similar to the pedal keyboard of a spinet organ.
The Taurus was originally intended to be one-third of a larger synthesizer ensemble called the Constellation. The Constellation included two keyboards — the polyphonic Apollo and the monophonic Lyra. This "polyphonic ensemble" was prominently used in prototype form on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's 1973 Brain Salad Surgery album and live during ELP's 1973-1974 World Tour, although Keith Emerson opted to not use the Taurus bass pedal unit in this configuration. The Constellation was never actually released as such; the Apollo was greatly refined and ultimately released as the Moog Polymoog Synthesizer; the Lyra — which Keith Emerson's roadie Will Alexander describes as "A Minimoog on steroids"— was never commercially produced. Emerson owned the only Constellation prototype ever made. The Taurus pedal synthesizer was released as a self-contained unit, circa 1974 or 1975.
The Taurus I is housed in a rugged aluminum and wood casing and, although known primarily for its bass timbre, has a five-octave overall range. Three stock preset sounds are available along with one user-programmable Variable sound - the parameters of which are adjustable within a centrally located compartment at the top of the instrument. The three non-variable Presets are named Tuba (single oscillator), Bass (an aggressive bass timbre, with a sharp attack and rapidly decaying filter transient), and the famous Taurus. The following parameters are foot switchable: Glide (on/off), Octave (+ 1 octave or Normal), Decay (long release on/off), and the three stock Presets and one Variable Preset. Top mounted foot controlled sliders affecting volume (Loudness) and filter cutoff (Filter) are also provided. A unique feature of the Octave function allows the player to change this footswitch setting while an unpressed note is sounding, with actual transposition only taking place immediately upon the next note press, allowing for smooth, predictable changes during performance and recording.
Analysis of the Taurus I circuit reveals several characteristics which contribute to its unique sound, including: Subtle distortion introduced by vintage CA3080 OTA (Operational transconductance amplifier) ICs in the VCA and especially in the VCF circuit; AC coupling between the VCF and VCA that generates an inherent 20Hz corner frequency boost; and, the RC product of capacitor coupling between stages, which is optimized for bass frequencies.
All these design elements, along with the classic Moog 24dB/Oct Low Pass "Ladder" Filter which, in this instrument, is specifically derived directly from the 1960s-era Moog modular synthesizer 904A Filter module, combine to produce a uniquely aggressive, edgy, penetrating timbre which is not exactly duplicated by any other instrument and is widely regarded for its extremely rich, "fat" sound, which is oftentimes more felt than heard, especially when greatly amplified.
The Taurus I's successor, the Taurus II - essentially a foot-controlled Moog Rogue, which never matched the reputation of its predecessor - was produced from 1981 to 1983. The Taurus II had 18 pedals, modulation and pitch bend wheels, oscillator sync functions and full CV interfacing, but had no footswitch or foot slider control whatsoever and no stock presets, making this instrument much less optimized for live performance use vs. the Taurus I. As a compromise, the control panel on the Taurus II was raised to waist height on a central shaft, to facilitate onstage modification of the settings.
Both the Taurus I and II units have a "low note priority" keying circuit. In the event that the player depresses two notes, the instruments will only sound the lowest pitched note, similar to other monophonic synthesizers. The Taurus I oscillators produced only sawtooth waves; the Taurus II oscillators produced sawtooth, square and preconfigured pulse waves.
Due to overwhelming demand, Moog Music re-designed the Taurus pedal synthesizer and produced the Taurus III in a strictly limited run of 1000 units in 2010. Building on the Taurus legacy, the 3rd generation Taurus pedals have a 100% analog audio signal path based entirely on the Taurus I synthesizer circuit and the unit features a greatly expanded feature set including: MIDI, USB, more presets, an arpeggiator, a dedicated LFO and velocity sensitive pedals. All 1000 units have sold out.
Especially popular among early progressive rock bands, Moog Taurus pedals were (and continue to be) used by a range of rock, metal, soul, R&B and fusion performers, including Geoff Downes of Yes and Asia fame, Cold Chisel and Michael Jackson on Stacy Lattisaw's 1980 song "You Don't Love Me Anymore", Ritchie Blackmore, Pink Floyd, Neurosis, Electric Light Orchestra, Yngwie Malmsteen, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson from Rush, John Myung from Dream Theater, Styx, U2, John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, Jon Anderson and Chris Squire from Yes, John Myung from Dream Theater, Jon Camp of Renaissance, Sting and Andy Summers of The Police, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett & Daryl Stuermer of Genesis, Francis Buchholz of the Scorpions, Justin Harris of Menomena, Troy Sanders of Mastodon, Brian Wilson on 15 Big Ones and Love You, and Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band. Genesis drummer Phil Collins brought the Taurus sound to Top 40 radio with his hit single, "I Don't Care Anymore", which features Taurus bass pedals as the sole source of bass in that song.
Most users only had one set, but Starcastle bassist Gary Strater was known for using two sets of Taurus I's, set to different octaves, both live and in studio.
Ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett had a set mounted waist high which his brother, John Hackett, used to play with his hands for the song Clocks - The Angel Of Mons from the album Spectral Mornings. Adam Jones of Tool (band) uses the Moog Taurus along with an Access Virus B synth to trigger live effects.
Producer Daniel Lanois uses a Taurus extensively in many projects, one prominent example being the track "I Love You" from his album Shine, and most recently to provide bass notes to accompany Neil Young's guitar playing on Le Noise, which he produced.
The distinctive bass sound on the Pixies' single "Bagboy" is generated by a Taurus, one of the rare instances where instruments other than guitar, drums and bass guitar are introduced into the band's dynamic.
- Moog proudly introduces... the Taurus Bass Pedal Synthesizer - Available November, 1974 (brochure). moog synthesizers, Norlin Music, Inc. — This brochure indicates at least at that time, the Taurus was supposed to be launched as early as 1974, but the result is not sure.
- "Chronology 1953-1993". Moog Archives.
1975 Moog Music Div of Norlin: ... Release Taurus and Polymoog.
- "On'Board with Keith Emerson". popeye-x.com. Retrieved February 15, 2012.