Monday, April 14, 2014

Moog's Sub Phatty - Modulate Me, Man

Ok. Another weak moment (or strong decision, depending on how I use this new musical tool) because our comfy Asheville home is now emanating some very strange sonic vibrations at varying frequencies at all hours. Looking at it in its most favorable light, this new turn of events is particularly fortuitous for Anita and me since summer is fast approaching, the windows will be open, and the new electronic sounds will likely drown out the loud, constantly barking dog of our clueless neighbors next door. Turning adversity into advantage is what I'm all about, or at least I am today.

The Moog Sub Phatty is an amazing combination of retro technology and digital control on three progressively deep levels. Luckily, it comes with pretty extensive operating instructions so I have at least a fair chance to make the most of this tone monster. The console itself has 31 control knobs and some cool indicator LED lights in its bank and patch preset panel, a two octave velocity sensitive keyboard, and a tone wheel and an expression wheel.

But, the shift mode gets you even deeper into The Sub Phatty's programming capacity by adding more functions to its console's existing dials and buttons allowing you to change hidden parameters. Plus, Moog supplies (from their online site) free downloadable software the replicates the Sub Phatty's front control panel which shows yet more of the Shift Mode functions, plus "load and preset" options.

It's interesting how life sometimes revolves in circles (or spirals through time, if you will) since I find myself playing with synthesizers again. Back in 1974 when Anita and I worked for Salt Lake City's PBS affiliate TV station, KUED, we rented a prototype synthesizer similar to this beautiful, more sophisticated modern-day Moog to create sound effects for our documentaries. Now, here we are 43 years later trying to figure out analog oscillators, low pass filters, sound envelopes, pulse wave modulation and the rest all over again.

It's still as much fun now as it was back then, only more expensive.

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