Our guestblogger Bubba Ayoub continues to share his thoughts on Moog, music, and technology, this time sharing some of his favorite synth parts. Enjoy!
The following songs feature cool Moog parts. This is a highly subjective list, and I hope you like some of them:
REO Speedwagon’s “Ridin’ The Storm Out” features an epic Minimoog intro that makes excellent use of the Minimoog’s glide feature, something that keyboardists didn’t really have until synthesizers came around. Also, there are some killer filter sweeps throughout the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTBv4kAdk_w
Electric Light Orchestra used Minimoogs extensively in the seventies. I can speak from experience that there is nothing quite like putting on “Out of the Blue” for the first time and listening to that positively virtuosic synth bass line that is NOWHERE NEAR LOUD ENOUGH in the mix: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFljpJdYRKM
Rick Wakeman‘s solo spot in Yessongs is one of the great Prog Rock Keyboard Moments. In the Yessongs era, his Minimoog usage was fairly modest. At its height, he toured with nine Minimoogs (three onstage and six backups).
From 3:21 (seriously though just listen to the whole damn thing, it won’t kill your hipster cred to listen to some prog) on, he absolutely shreds on one of his Minis and a Mellotron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0LfdmQ3NaM
Sweet filter sweeps in this Rick Wakeman solo track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnO4jyr1nhA
“Save the Life of My Child” by Simon and Garfunkel: The unique way that the Moog Modular mixer distorted and otherwise futzed with the sound can be clearly heard in the earthshakingly fat bass tones throughout this song. The main bass line also uses the Moog, though the sound is much closer to that of a traditional bass guitar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diNi6F4usCM
I have to admit I do not know with absolute certainty that this song features a Minimoog, but I want to believe. Just like I want to believe the rumor that Daft Punk only used their Modcan-A on Random Access Memories. Anyway, at 2:39 in “Speed of Sound” by Chris Bell (Big Star), a heartbreakingly beautiful synth solo comes in, and I believe in my heart of hearts that it was played on a Minimoog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e01JS23vmT4
At a bare minimum, I want you to take a minute to realize just how beautiful Keith Emerson‘s Modular Moog is. Your synth will never be as iconic and badass as that one. And oh boy, does it sound amazing.
“Lucky Man” original studio version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89g1P_J40JA
While we’re on the subject of Keith Emerson, here are some of his tracks that feature very prominent Modular use:
Sample and Hold and Sequencing joined together in perfect harmony on “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2”: http://youtu.be/IwSTe9uit48
The “Hoedown” synth sound inspired me to get into modular synths: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFCniNYZoFg
“Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression” has great synth programming all the way through, but the last 30 seconds or so feature an awesome panned sequencer patch that you need to hear, because as previously mentioned it is AWESOME: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFal0CC4Cmw
And how could I talk about great Moog recordings without mentioning “Here Comes The Sun”? The arpeggiated bass in the chorus is simply gorgeous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj1AesMfIf8
Popcorn, the primordial goop of synthpop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK3ZP6frAMc
In 1973, Moog came out with the Taurus bass pedal synth. Genesis, Yes, The Police, Rush, and others use and used it to great effect on many recordings, though none showcase it quite the way Genesis’ “Squonk” does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzL-up4ZKgI
Rick Wakeman used his Minimoogs with Yes quite frequently, so it’s a little hard to pick one really good track that shows his Moog usage, but the solo at 7:26 on “Starship Trooper” from 1973’s Yessongs is face-melting so here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV2dLus_c6g
Moog’s first attempt at a polyphonic instrument was the completely bonkers Polymoog, heard here on an album Rick Wakeman made after he had quit and rejoined Yes (the first time): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-BMlq_zyko
I had the Yes Live at Q.P.R. video on VHS. I distinctly remember watching it with my dad and one scene has stuck with me my whole life, influencing everything I have ever done since.
At 15:16 in the video below, at a terribly important and dramatic point in “Close to the Edge,” Patrick Moraz just turns around and has to bust into a solo on this Minimoog that in my memory was much farther away from the rest of his keyboards. (If you actually read this A+ for surviving this far, and extra credit if you can pretend that the Mini he played at that section was farther away so he had to do an over-the-top run up to it for that section, like I remember it.)
The thing that’s awesome about it is that the Minimoog is comically out of tune. I mean, oscillator drift is real, man. And holy crap was it real at that show.
And he tries to fix the tuning too, which is even funnier because that part is fairly intricate and short, and wow, is that puppy completely gone. So he just decides to run with it and careens through the part with reckless abandon.
And that’s kind of how I’ve decided to live my life in some ways. I’ll try to fix stuff, but if I see that it’s a losing battle, whatever, just run with it and make it work anyway, y’know?
Sometimes you’ve just gotta embrace the rain when you’re on the lawn at Pine Knob, and your synth is deathly out of tune for a big, important solo moment. Just roll with it and hope someone can laugh about it.
(Also when you see me wearing button-down shirts with the wrist collars undone it’s because I really like how Jon Anderson’s shirt does that, and also LOOK AT PATRICK MORAZ. LOOK AT THAT GLORIOUS FRENCH POODLE’S SHIRT. I WOULD ROCK THAT SHIRT SO HARD YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, BRO): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdgVQ4Looxg
BMF student guestblogger Christian “Bubba” Ayoub is a former member of the Maker Corps of the Henry Ford Museum, where he designed teaching plans meant to bring innovation into the classroom using the collections of The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. He has presented ideas at Maker Faire Detroit and the May Tinker Hack Invent Saturday at the Henry Ford Museum, made artbots with the public at the June Tinker Hack Invent Saturday, and taught workshops to teachers looking to bring Making to their classrooms.
He began playing synthesizers at age 10 because of a love for progressive rock bands like Yes and ELP, and voraciously seeks new and interesting music to listen to. His Juggable Offense project is an ever-shifting mass of psychedelic space rock centered around modular synthesis, Moog equipment, and sonic exploration.
Bubba is currently seeking a dual degree in electrical engineering and software engineering (with hopes of a life spent designing and building synthesizers) at the University of Detroit Mercy. Follow him on Twitter at @JuggableOffense, and check him out on SoundCloud.