Friday, June 8, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 3 February 1982


Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 3 February 1982.

Before you even ask... yes! Another Moog Interface newsletter! I just can't stop! You can find all the newsletters under this label.

Now, let's not waste any time and quickly dive into my usual top 10 list.

Top ten reasons this newsletter is awesome!

10. We have a logo change! The Moog Interface logo-type has changed to a font that resembles an LED watch. Bold move. I like-yyyyy!

9. The half-page devoted to the Moog Digital Sequential Controller (DSC). Although apparently never released, it didn't just make it into this issue of Interface, but also into advertisements in Keyboard Magazine. I'd love to know the backstory on that!

8. The feature article on the Memorymoog. Although not released until the last quarter of 1982, the Memorymoog seems to have popped up not just in this Interface newsletter, but also in that ad for the DSC and at trade shows.

7. If you haven't figured it out yet... The Moog Taurus II is also featured in the newsletter... AND in that same ad as the Memorymoog and DSC (link above). That's some good cross-advertising going on at Moog! 

6. At the end of that Memorymoog article is an interesting footnote about the author - Rich Walborn, Chief Engineer of Research at Moog. He started out working at the original RA Moog Company building some of the first Minimoogs, and went on to develop a number of other Moog products. Not in that footnote - he travelled with ELP for a year! 

5. The "Electronic Music in the Schools" article on the last page of the newsletter. Could you imagine going to a high school that had a studio with Multimoogs. Plural. MORE THAN ONE!  

4. We have a keytar! In a photo on page two being held by Ronnie Foster, who we learn will be playing along with Tom Coster at the Western NAMM show. More on Tom Coster below!

3. The Music with Computers article actually prints out an explains a short basic program. A lot of musicians must have been scratching their heads, but the techies must have loved it!

2. Looking at the Input-Output section (Q and As), it looks like someone else is as interested as I am in getting a Moog satin flight jacket. I WANT A FLIGHT JACKET. I'd wear it everywhere. For true!

1. That last question in that Input-Output section piqued by curiosity:
"I recently bought Tom Coster's album. On the credits he list a Moog Invader. What is it?"

The answer...? "Stop at the Moog Booth at the Western NAMM...". GAH!
So I googled away and soon found out. Its a patch! Tom Coster actually goes into some detail on it in a February 1982 article of Contemporary Keyboard, saying he listed it in the hopes that Moog would create an instrument with that name!

Side note: The February '82 issue of Contemporary Keyboard was misprinted on the cover as "February 1981" - so Moog Invader patch references to the magazine are often citing the incorrect 1982 date.

Fantastic newsletter. Read it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 2 June 1981


Moog Interface newsletter, Volume 2 June 1981.

Yup - another one. So far I've posted four - the one above and these three (click on images to go to their respective blog posts):


With even more to come!

And like those others, I plan to keep the tradition going with another Top 10 list.

Top 10 reasons this newsletter is awesome!

10. There are EIGHT keytars in photos scattered about in this thing. EIGHT!!!!!

9. That Gary Wright interview!  That dude loves his Moogs. And Moog loves that photo - I've seen it re-purposed in a number of different places during this time period.

8. Question 2 in the Input/Output section contains some great historical details on the Canadian dealer for Moog during this time period - Nuco!

7. Also from the Input/Output section: The kit costs for retrofitting a Prodigy with CV/Gate interface jacks ($20/$30 depending on serial number).

6. The Interface logo font! So spacey! Always happy when I see that.

5. The photo and reference to the 10,000th Moog Prodigy rolling off the production line in the bottom corner of page 2. I love synth production quantities almost as much as other historical info.

4. The announcement of the Moog Rogue on page 3 with its scheduled unveiling at the Chicago Summer 1981 NAMM show. Great historical timeline info!

3. That classic photo of DEVO with five keytars. Enough said.   Get it? "Enough said"! Its a DEVO song! "Stop and let me tell you what tomorrow holds for you..."

2. Rock Wehrmann's "Music With Computers" article. Rock worked at Moog from around 1977-1983, eventually ending up managing advertising and marketing at Moog and was involved in the design of the Source, the Rogue, the Opus 3, Taurus 2, the Radio Shack Concertmate (MG-1), and the Liberation! Great little interview with him on the Moog Foundation site. A good read.

1. The Minimoog retrospective on page 1. So much great history jam-packed into that one article.

So, grab a cup of coffee and read through the newsletter. It's a gooder!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 2 March 1981




Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 2 March 1981.
Vol.1 September 1980

Well, I gotta say... its taken me a bit of time to get back to scanning Moog Interface newsletters. The September 1980 issue was posted in February 2010 and the December 1980 issue was posted in April 2010. That's like eight years. EIGHT YEARS!!!

So, its time I procrastinate a bit more on my Moog Song Producer videos and post another newsletter.   :)

Moog has been wise to keep the format the same as those previous two issues, so I figure why fix something that ain't broken. So, in keeping with my tradition of using a top ten list to blog about these newsletters, here my...

...top 10 reasons this newsletter is awesome!

Vol.1 December 1980
10. That list of schools in the Northeast United States on page four that were offering courses in synthesis or electronic music. 21 schools. Wowza!

9. The historical details about the Moog booth at the 1981 Winter NAMM show in that opening article on page 1 about The Source! Be sure to check out page two for a large photo of the booth as well!

8. Chick Corea's moustache. Because... MOUSTACHE!

7. More historical info - this time giving us some good details on when David Luce became President of Moog Music, and almost as interesting, where former President David Bueschel ended up.

6. In the Input/Output section on page 2, we have print evidence right from Moog Music on how to pronounce "Moog" - an often debated topic on synth forums. There's and few print pieces and videos out there where Bob Moog talks about the correct pronunciation of his name. Here's another reference to add to the list.

5. Also in the Input/Output section... reference to an early 80s Moog Software and Accessories catalog. Which means I gotta go find it and scan it.

4. It wouldn't be an Interface top-ten list if I didn't include... The Interface logo font! So sweeet.  :)

3. The reference to "The Guitar Center" on page three. Not sure if its the same Guitar Center that is currently having some difficulties, but its cool to see a company having a "Moog Month".

2. Photo of Rory Kaplan having "a production meeting with his System 55". Rory toured with Micheal Jackson, among other amazing things.

1. CONTEST FOR A MOOG SATIN FLIGHT JACKET!!! Glad to see Moog has kept this going from earlier newsletters. I want this so bad.

Got more Interface newsletters to scan. Let's hope it doesn't take another eight years.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Roland TR-606 Drumatix drum machine and TS-404 Multitrax sequencer ad, Keyboard 1983


Roland TR-606 Drumatix drum machine and TS-404 Multitrax sequencer full colour advertisement from page 49 in the August 1983 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

I've already posted a scan and blogged about Roland's popular first ProForm advertisement that launched the TB-303 and TR-606, so I thought I'd focus more on the TS-404 in this 606/404 ad.

Within a year after launching the first two pieces of music gear that made up their "ProForm Series" - the TB-303 and TR-606 - Roland realized the hits they had on their hands. In particular, positive response in regards to the simplicity of the TB-303 sequencer led Roland to deliver on their promise to bring more ProForm gear to market by announcing a multi-track TB-style sequencer to go along with the bass synthesizer and drum machine.

Roland is known for re-purposing their cases to help keep costs down, and they've definitely kept that philosophy with all three ProForm products. As can be seen in the ad photo, the TS-404 kept the simple and clean TB-style sequencer on the lower half of the case, but replaced the main synth controls at the top of the case with multi-track sequencer functionality in the form of "Track" buttons and corresponding LED lights. CV and Gate labels indicate that each Track has its own set of CV/Gate outputs situated on the back. Slick!

The result - an awesome four track sequencer that looks absolutely smashing next to its older TR-606 sibling.

And it doesn't just look gorgeous. Its just about as dreamy to program. A Roland representative at the time remarked "If programming and editing one TB-303 sequence was easy, then programming four TS-404 sequences is four times as easy."

I found the TS-404 programming instructions in an article that appeared in the September 1983 issue of CV/Gate-Love Magazine called "The TS-404: Release yourself from your cumbersome Fairlight sequencer software". The guide matter-of-factly states that when using their simple 37-step programming and editing guide, "even someone with only a Doctorate in Astrophysics will be up to speed making Yazoo-style tracks in no time".

An amazing machine, but unfortunately, MIDI had just launched and was gaining steam quickly,  eventually stopping the sales of the TB-303, TR-606 and TS-404 in their tracks (pun intended). Many ended up sold in store blow-out sales and later dumped in pawn shops around the world. And while the TB-303 and TR-606 ended up becoming famous soon afterwards in the hands of acid house producers around the world, the TS-404 became generally recognized within a lesser well-known genre of techno called Banjo-Tech.

This fad of integrating banjos with TS-404s began in Belgium around 1992 and quickly spread to a small city in Canada called Regina. Owners would send their four-string banjo and TS-404 to a guy in Keflavik, Iceland. Known as the GodFerret mod, the integration with the banjo effectively destroyed the TS-404 in the process but resulted in an instrument that had one very unique sound when the four strings were played directly through the four tracks of the sequencer.

But unlike acid house which spawned many sub-genres and is still going strong today, the unique sound and genre of BanjoTech faded soon after, and the few rare TS-404s that never were GodFerreted are coveted by the few lucky owners that have them.

Shame I'll probably never be able to get my banjo GodFerreted.  :(

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Moog Song Producer 12-page introductory guide, 1985














Moog Song Producer 12-page introductory guide/brochure from September 1985.

Clockwise from left - box, manual with floppy disk on top
Song Producer hardware with connection cable/cartridge attached, 
warranty card, introductory guide, quality control slip, technical 
service info leaflet (including schematics), service location poster
Today I thought I'd keep the whole Moog Song Producer fixation going by focusing on one of the documents that apparently came packaged with every unit - the introductory guide. That's the yellow folded document in the bottom right corner of the photo. I've labelled the other pieces in the caption below the photo in case anyone is interested.

I'm sure I'll get to some of the other documents in future posts, but for now, lets unfold that introductory guide and see what's up.

Once unfolded, it's the photo on the front page that directs the eye's attention. This is the same photo that gets passed around *a lot* in Facebook synth forums and elsewhere - yellow paper background and all. Who can't appreciate that Song Producer hardware sitting atop a "portable" Commodore SX-64, with a large 5 1/4 inch floppy sitting askew on the keyboard?  For me, it doesn't get much better than that.

I'd always wondered where that image had originally come from. So imagine my surprise when I unfolded this brochure for the first time and there it was! Made me quite happy. 

The document itself is quite long - some may say "wordy". And that might be an understatement. But, it is a quick-start guide in the same vein as the also-wordy 250+ page manual, so its not really a surprise that it gets into so much detail itself.

Point being, I'm gonna skip everything between page 1 and 11 in this post. Read it all at your leisure to learn a great deal on how Song Producer worked. For now, jump right to back page., because that's where the real fun begins.

First, I'd like to take a long lovingly gaze at that image in the middle of the page.


Did you see it? Isn't it twenty kinds of awesome? No. It's not.

Its twenty-one. :)

Moog has a history of creating great illustrations to promote their products, like this one from 13 years earlier (see right). Love both images so much I tweeted both pieces of artwork the other day.

Okay, enough drooling... let's move on. Also on that back page is a great little summary, providing us with some historical insight into how Moog Electronics was positioning Song Producer in a market place that was quickly becoming crazy about MIDI.  I've typed it all out so you don't have to go looking for it in the scans above:
"At Moog Electronics, Inc., we believe that MIDI interfaces with only MIDI IN, OUT, and THRU connections should NOT become the "standard" for musicians. The Song Producer's MIDI/DRUM/SYNC module and bundled software package are an important step that extends the usefulness of many devices orphaned by simpler MIDI interfaces. It also solves many of the problems with MIDI. 
Significant third party software is now available for this interface. The general nature of the system will attract OTHER software programmers who have nothing to gain by supporting only one interface. The Song Producer Interface simply has more to offer the talented programmer.  
In the final analysis, musicians will vote--with their purchases--for the limitations they wish to live with."
Sure, a few other MIDI cartridges had good old fashion sync, but as far as I know the Moog Song Producer was the only C64 unit that included trigger outputs - and not just one or two... but EIGHT. This is a great addition to anyone that has kept their pre-MIDI drum brains or even synths such as a Modular Moog around.

But it wasn't just  hoarders of pre-MIDI gear that Moog was marketing to - they were also directly targeting third-party programmers in order to entice them to write their own software for Song Producer. They say there is third party software that is already written, but I haven't tested any other Commodore 64 software with this hardware either. I'll put that on my to-do list. :)

Ominously, Moog ends the brochure suggesting that musicians will vote with their wallets, and sadly Moog Electronics would loose the MIDI interface battle a few years later when the company was sold and the manufacture of all proprietary products was halted. 

Dang.    :(