Minimoog – The Synth That Shaped Musical History

Abbey Road Institute shared this live session, discussing Moog keyboards and their impact on music.

It’s a recording of a live stream, so skip to about 1:30 to get to the beginning. In the session, producer MarcoAntonio Spaventi discusses and demonstrates the Moog Minimoog, the Memorymoog and several other iconic Moog keyboards.

Session Description:

Shaping musical history:

The Minimoog was designed in response to the use of synthesizers in rock/pop music.
Jazz composer Sun Ra was the first to use a prototype of the Minimoog in his music and Keith Emerson (musician and composer) was the first musician touring with a Minimoog, demonstrating some amazing pitch-bending techniques for the first time with many keyboard players following his example afterwards. Just like the Hammond organ (as shown in our previous event) the Moog became a serious competitor to the electric guitar, making guitarist looking for eleven on their volume control as the only way to compete. Because of its fantastic and cosmic sound, it soon was embraced by the gods of the new progressive rock with bands like Yes and Emerson Lake & Palmer.

As keyboardist of Yes, Rick Wakeman said the instrument “absolutely changed the face of music.”

Besides progressive rock, Jazz legends like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock added the Minimoog to their arsenal, delivering devastating jazz solos and Bob Marley introduced the Minimoog when the band first played in the UK on the BBC.

After taking the progressive rock and jazz world by storm, it made its way back towards the synthesizer’s roots, in electronic pop and experimental music. One of the most well-know band using the Minimoog for this purpose was Kraftwerk on their albums Autobahn and The Man-Machine. Shortly after that, the characteristic sound of the Minimoog became an important part of the synth-pop era and inspired an entire generation of electronic musicians like Brian Eno and Ultravox.

Since then the Minimoog transformed the music landscape of every musical genre, from the R&B/Soul of Earth Wind & Fire and the most successful recorded album of all time, Thriller from Michael Jackson, till the West-Coast sound of Dr. Dré and the industrial music of Trent Reznor.

But a major transition occurred when electronic music was slightly forced back into the underground and analog synthesizer started shaping the sound of House Music, Techno and all other genres of electronic music. This is where the Minimoog found a new homebase in the hands of producers and bands like Carl Craig, 808-state, Portishead and many more leading to the iconic sound in today’s electronic music and the production of new Moog synthesizers and soundalikes.

The original Minimoog is a true classic. But what makes the sound so special?
On the 1st of December, MarcoAntonio Spaventi (music producers, mastering engineer, analog synth evangelist and Abbey Road Institute lecturer) will give a Masterclass about the Minimoog and it’s unique sound at Abbey Road Institute Amsterdam. In order to share his love for the Moog, this masterclass will be live streamed through Facebook Live.

MarcoAntonio will talk about the differences between the original Minimoog Model D and the Minimoog Voyager, the unique features of both instruments and the technical aspects that makes it sound so special. But most important, you can hear them live including a jam with an hardware sequencer at the end of the session!

Next to the above mentioned synths, we will have a variety of other Moogs to explore the different sounds and flavours of Robert Moog’s legacy. With one very special model…

The Memorymoog!

Many say the Memorymoog is like having 6 Minimoogs stacked in one machine! While thats not entirely true it does sound like no other poly synth with a very specific and massive character. Just like the Minimoog, the Memorymoog gets his monumental sound due to certain imperfections of the instrument. A perfect example of finding perfection in imperfection! MarcoAntonio will explain you all about the different features that makes this synth so unique.

3 thoughts on “Minimoog – The Synth That Shaped Musical History

  1. The levels are just terrible in this video. All over the place, but generally way too low. I feel like I’m mixing it live while I watch.

  2. Great, level-headed breakdown. Good job going over the basics and pointing out some of the interesting quirks. Wish I’d had this course in college!

    Presuming he does something like this again… with iconic instruments like these, I always think it’s cool/helpful to hear a few references to songs most of us know. “And when we adjust the filter envelope decay in real time we get *this* New Order song…” type stuff.

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