“I can feel what’s going on inside a piece of electronic equipment. ... It’s something between discovering and witnessing.”
— Robert Moog, pioneering inventor of self-named synthesizers
GOOGLE’S DONE IT AGAIN, devising one beautiful and tuneful time-suck.
The tech titan’s homepage today celebrates the 78th birthday of the late and electronically great Robert “Bob” Moog, who beginning in the ‘60s changed the face of popular music with his line of self-named synthesizers, introducing a cascade of new sounds eagerly embraced by some of the greatest acts of the era — and ever.
To honor “Dr. Bob,” today’s Doodle is an elegant and elaborately interactive synthesizer (as a Google Moog, you might call it a “Goog”) that promises seemingly limitless sonic possibilities.
And with this modified MiniMoog Model-D, Google has surpassed even its recordable Les Paul guitar “Doodle” from last year. Many of us remember how that drill went, as we toyed with tunes whenever we had free moments. So if you’re going to lose minutes of life and work productivity to this thing today (and so many of us are), you might as well have some idea how to play and plunk it — how to make this synth hum with that distinctive pulsating thrum.
[LES PAUL GUITAR: Google’s first great playable Doodle]
Below we go into detail about “Goog” experimentation — showing that creatively, this Doodle “goes to 11.” And as you play, the distinctive sounds may remind you of Dr. Moog’s profound influence on music. As Google notes of his groundbreaking, sound-breaking synths:
“The timbre and tones of these keyboard instruments ... would come to define a generation of music, featuring heavily in songs by the Beatles, the Doors, Steve Wonder, Kraftwerk and so many others.”
1. HOW TO PLAY:
This interactive, playable logo — the Goog panels fittingly spell out “G-O-O-G,” the tape recorder provides the “L-E” — was “inspired by the instruments with which Moog brought musical performance into the electronic age,” writes software engineer Joey Hurst on Google’s official blog, adding that:
(a) “You can use your mouse or computer keyboard to control the mini-synthesizer’s keys and knobs to make nearly limitless sounds”; and
(b) “Keeping with the theme of 1960s music technology, we’ve patched the keyboard into a 4-track tape recorder so you can record, play back and share songs via short links or Google+. ”
But that’s just a beginning into how to play with the range of oscillators and filters, sustains and decays, envelopes and sawtooth waveforms.
Moog chief engineer Cyril Lance delves into the nuances in this video:
And the most articulate/exhaustive “how-to” I’ve found on the “Goog” comes courtesy of “synth guru” Marc Doty:
The folks over at the Bob Moog Foundation are even holding a contest and are now taking your recorded Moog Doodle tune submissions.
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2. HOW IT WAS BUILT:
The tech titan’s homepage logo was created by engineers Reinaldo Aguiar and Rui Lopes, who worked with the Doodle team led by Ryan Germick — a synthesis of in-house talents and techniques that made this beautiful (electronica) music possible. It impresses as Google’s most complex Doodle yet.
As for the technical aspects, Hurst writes on the Google blog:
“Much like the musical machines Bob Moog created, this doodle was synthesized from a number of smaller components to form a unique instrument.
3. R EMEMBERING DR. MOOG:
Born May 23, 1934, Robert Moog grew up a thorough New York native, studying at Queens College (physics) and Columbia (electrical engineering) before getting his doctorate at Cornell — where he worked on developing his synth.
Moog’s machines rode to rose in popularity of psychedelic rock in the ’60s, but his synths were also eventually embraced by everyone from jazz musicians to prog-rockers to rappers.
Moog died in 2005, at age 71. But his sonic influence will sustain for generations.
Comic Riffs’ TOP TEN ‘GOOGLE DOODLE’ ANIMATIONS EVER (*before today):
1. PAC-MAN: VIDEO-GAME GOOGLE
2. GOOGLE BALLS: THE MYSTERY DOODLE
3. JOHN LENNON: IMAGINE THIS DOODLE
4. MARTHA GRAHAM: THE DANCING DOODLE
5. FREDDIE MERCURY: THE MUSIC VIDEO
6. JIM HENSON: THE CLICKABLE MUPPETS
7. ART CLOKEY: THE “GUMBY DOODLE”
8. JULES VERNE: THE DEEP-SEA DOODLE
9. STANISLAW LEM: THE ANIMATED SCI-FI GAME
10. VALENTINE’S DAY: THE “COLD, COLD HEART” DOODLE