‘Bach To Moog’ Sneak Preview


Moog Music has released a new preview video for Bach To Moog – a new album, by Craig Leon, that explores using the Moog modular synthesizer as part of a classical ensemble.

Bach to Moog, coming May 4th from Sony Classical, showcases the reissued Moog Modular Synthesizer, as well as other current Moog synthesizer, in new arrangements of the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Unlike the Walter/Wendy Carlos classic, Switched On Bach, the arrangements handle the synthesizer as part of a classical ensemble, rather than an alternative.

Here’s a video preview:

Bach to Moog is produced by American-born composer, arranger and record producer Craig Leon, famous for his work with The Ramones and Blondie, as well as his work in the classical arena with such leading artists as Luciano Pavarotti, Joshua Bell and Sir James Galway.

Leon is also recognized for for his seminal synthesizer albums from the 1970s, Nommos and Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1. On Bach to Moog, Leon blends his love and mastery of classical music, electronic music and synthesizers and is joined by acclaimed British classical violinist, Jennifer Pike (the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition) alongside the Sinfonietta Cracovia.

In 1968, Switched On Bach inspired many musicians to explore the new sound worlds of synthesizers.Today, Bach to Moog explores the idea that the synthesizer is a mature instrument that can be used alongside classical instruments.


Violin Partita No.3 in E Major, BWV 1006: Preludio
Violin Sonata No.4 in C Minor, BWV 1017: Siciliano
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesus bleibet meine Freude
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565
Arioso from Cantata 156
Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G Major, BWV 1049: I. Allegro
Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G Major, BWV 1049: II. Andante
Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G Major, BWV 1049: III. Presto
Orchestral Suite No.3 in D Major, BWV 1068: Air
The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria
Fourteen Canons on the Goldberg Ground, BWV 1087

Album Preorder Links:

21 thoughts on “‘Bach To Moog’ Sneak Preview

  1. It’s interesting to me that, even 40 years after Switched On Bach, there’s no real acceptance of synthesizers in the world of classical music.

    Are classical musicians afraid of synths, or is it the aging classical audience?

    The only modern composers that have garnered a significant audience that are using synths and electronic instruments are Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Even in their work, though, electronics are given a minimal role.

    There’s a need for this sort of thing and also live synth performance groups, like the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble. Anything that will upset the classical purists and shake things up a bit is a good thing.

    1. You are pointing out a very interesting topic. I don’t know much about music history but the tendency for postmodern or contemporary music is to use acoustic elements rather than electronic ones. On the other hand, you see a lot of electronics used in so-called “electroacoustic” music which may be a part of concert/art music.

      If “classical” really means classical, then it is understandable that today musicians that like Bach or Mozart would want to play their compositions with classical instruments. Playing Bach with a synthesizer is just another interpretation but if you don’t play with it (changing it) you just are playing the same classical thing.

      1. Indeed interesting topic. Electronic music and the technology behind it is a vast topic. Classical composers on one hand are taught that electronics are yet another instrument, on the other – this instrument doesn’t work like any other, doesn’t easily match. They discover that this is not just another violin or trumpet, and that there is no distinctive timbre attached to it. They cannot just put “electronics” or “synth” in front of the score and start writing notes. There are to many variables. Classical composers learn about different articulations of the standard set of instruments found in every orchestra. Electronics don’t easily split to simple categories (like acoustic instruments) and there is no generally accepted standard about what should constitute “electronics” at all.

    2. I love crossovers. Isao Tomita’s interpretations of classical pieces are amazing. It is hard to infiltrate a genre with different instrumentation. Bluegrass is bluegrass in great part because of what instruments are used. It is the nature of a genre. I am all for mixing things up though and giving it a shot! If anything, you create a new genre in the attempt.

    3. I like synths but am not bothered by classical music using classical instruments. Saw a symphony the other day. Pretty cool to hear / see music once in a while in an acoustic, pre-electricity way.

      I wouldn’t worry about trying to convert the very small percentage of people that like classical music. Electronic music is everywhere else. Is that not good enough?

  2. Can we PLEASE not do the Wendy Carlos gender thing here?

    I don’t think this is the place to bring up a spiteful “argument” that was regressive forty years ago.

      1. It’s in the article. “Unlike the Walter/Wendy Carlos classic….”

        Look, we don’t need any more reminders, as there are more than plenty, that e-music is a generally misogynistic scene with a LONG history of being flippantly transphobic of this person.

        She’s stated for forty years that her name is Wendy. Please, give it a rest, everyone.

      2. @Zymos:
        Selador refers to the sentence: “Unlike the Walter/Wendy Carlos classic, Switched On Bach, the arrangements handle the synthesizer as part of a classical ensemble, rather than an alternative.”
        Wendy is not a two-sex-entity, she never was. Walter was wrong label b/c she came to this world equipped with wrong set of tools.

        1. My parents have the Walter Carlos album “Switched on Bach”. It says right on it- Walter. Confusion may exist, because someone changed their name after the album came out- writing both names with a slash was just an innocent way to attempt to address that.

          Please learn the difference between “sex” and “gender” before attempting to lecture me. Names are simply trappings of gender and as such completely irrelevant to biological sex.
          Also, to the comment above- why would you conflate misogyny with “trans phobia”? That’s offensive to half the human population . If you are going to get all defensive, get your terminology and theory straightened out.

          1. oh, man, confusion may exist also whether Walter and Wendy were two authors of the said album. It’s the way you read this: if you are referring to a person or to an entry in a database. As she is still alive the former is more natural (at least for me). Of course it’s a subtle thing, many don’t care. I didn’t intend to lecture anybody, peace.

    1. There’s no ‘spiteful argument’ or disrespect intended in the article.

      When we write ‘Walter/Wendy Carlos’ we are succinctly noting that Switched On Bach has been released under two names and nothing more.

      To delve into more detail than that, every time we mention Carlos, would be off topic and unnecessary for most readers. And to just use ‘Wendy Carlos’ would disregard the fact that most copies of the majority of her albums are printed with her given name.

      This may not be a perfect approach, but regular readers should understand our intent.

      1. I see nothing wrong with saying Walter/Wendy, but Carlos (at least once) asked to have the credit be W. Carlos, which seems like a better solution to me, just to avoid all this drama (if anything could).

        The discographies seem to have the attribution of Walter up until ’80 and then Wendy after that. That’s just how it is.

  3. I love contemporary classical , especially the Artist Wim Mertens.Who I rate as one of the finest modern composers and multi instrumentalists.
    I really don’t see a place for synths in orchestral musical , although I do enjoy orchestral instruments in electronic music and I would site Craig Armstrong , as a great composer in that field.
    Synths in my humble opinion do not add anything to violins , cellos etc But cellos , violins really add something to modern electronic/rock artists. Massive Attak, Goldfrapp, Grace Jones, The Verve,etc etc
    I thought the switched on Bach Album was dire although back in the day I wanted to like it .
    Electronic music has led me to appreciate acoustic instruments greatly . I am an owner of a Korg Z1 and would say that sonicaly synths sound pretty dire in relation to acoustic instruments.
    I like synths to sounds synthetic, cheap and nasty and I love such freakey sounding electronic stuff as, Drexciya, Model 500, Ectomorph, Cabaret Voltaire , Bam Bam, 808 State, LFO, Luke Slater, Babay Ford etc etc etc
    I am not quite sure why someone wants to sound like a picolo using a modular, maybe they have more money than sense , or music is an academic exercise to them.
    Does Moog hope to shift loads of their 55,000 modulars via these lame musical exercises?
    Long live twisted perverted electronic music made on cheap naff gear.

  4. A Moog WITH an orchestra? Yeah, why not.
    But what we really need is for the W. Carlos records to be available again!

  5. It would be great to actually have an orchestra of synth players. All set to play different timbres, played live. I also think that electronic instruments like synths can do so much, that pieces of work like this do not attempt. Things Like Automation. Classical/ Baroque music is so rich musically. The techniques used, such as counterpoint and key modulation offer so much depth to music. that is something I find very little of these days in electronic music. very little experimentation with melody, harmony, counterpoint, modulation, evolving harmony and chord progressions etc.. I think that these techniques (modern synthesis and older compositional techniques) can all be combined to create very beautiful and meaningful, rich music…and it still has not happened yet….Not trying to recreate Bach’s music on synths…but totally original and new electronic music with deeper compositions…maybe where drums and the Kick drum are not the driving force of the music, but melody, motivic development, harmony and unique synthetic timbre/ textural orchestrations drive the music. I often wonder..what would Bach do with modern synths…

  6. “Walter/Wendy Carlos” What a disgraceful comment!!!. Wendy has said a thousand times she is a woman. Period. Please respect everyone’s right to gender identity. Synthopia is disrespectful in this regard and should apologize.

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