moog synthesizer iiic

Pop music magazines have hardly if ever focused on the minutia dirty, grimy specs of how the music is made. I mean the sounds themselves: anything beyond a drum head and a wah wah pedal and critics dived down into the tall weeds where they left their rhyming dictionaries.

Take the legendary Lester Bangs on Emerson Lake & Palmer:

“What really makes ELP a dinosaur potentate is the sheer scale of the noise they emit…. This is robot music mixmastered by human modules who deserve purple hearts for managing to keep the gadgets reined at all. I went, I saw, I drowned…. Three egos exploding tight as a rapacious cyclotron and slick as Gorgo’s dildo.”


Keith Emerson of ELP had shinier toys than Gorgo’s dildo: his “gadget” of choice was the the ancestor of this monster, recreated from the original circuit designs and held by Moog to be the “most visible and widely-heard modular system in the world.”

Emerson’s EMMS was brought to life in Trumansburg, NY, where Dr. Robert Moog and ten technicians were building production models of machines that didn’t yet have a name. “The cutting-edge musical instruments that they called ‘synthesizers’ signaled electronic music’s maturation from an awkward and shy intruder in the realm of music to a dynamic and significant medium of musical expression.”

That’s from the latest Moog press release, announcing that one of the first three models handcrafted by Dr. Moog and his team have been brought back into production. Synthesizer IIIc is being crafted in a limited run of 25 units by the late Dr. Moog’s namesake company.

According to the release, “every Synthesizer IIIc will be built using all-original documentation, art, and circuit board files. Each instrument features thirty-six hand-stuffed, hand-soldered modules, including ten 901-Series audio oscillators, the 984 Matrix Mixer, and the 905 Spring Reverb. All modules are securely mounted into two hand-finished, solid walnut console cabinets at the Moog factory in Asheville, NC.”

Here’s a video of the Synthesizer IIIc, courtesy of Moog. May you find it illuminating.


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