Google has released a playable Minimoog doodle today to celebrate Bob Moog’s 78th birthday. Previously Google paid tribute to legendary musician and guitar pioneer, Les Paul with a playable guitar doodle. Being a synth nerd, for me, this is even cooler. Moog have made a quick reference for the doodle, but I thought I’d put together a slightly longer guide on what this amazingly complete toy can do.
Row by row, from top-left:
- Main Volume
- Oscillator-2 Volume
- Oscillator-1 Volume
- Oscillator-3 Volume
Like the actual Minimoog, the doodle has three VCO’s. Think of them as three independent sound sources you can mix together. Note that the control for the ‘primary’ oscillator, Oscillator-1, is in the centre.
Row by row, from top left:
- Oscillator-1 pitch range (LO, 32’, 16’, 8’, 4’, 2’)
- Oscillator-1 frequency
- Oscillator-1 waveform
- Oscillator-2 pitch range
- Oscillator-2 waveform
- Oscillator-3 pitch range
- Oscillator-3 frequency
- Oscillator-3 waveform
The VCO’s mentioned in the mixer section can have their sound qualities adjusted. The pitch of Oscillators 2 and 3 can be shifted relative to Oscillator-1. The octave for each oscillator can be set via the pitch range knobs, with LO being the lowest octave and 2’ being the highest.
When the modulation switch is set to On, the modulation effect can be tuned via Oscillator-3’s controls. Waveform and Frequency behave similarly to how they did as a sound source (though you’ll generally want to use lower frequencies here), and Pitch Range almost behaves the same, with the exception that switching it to LO switches off Osc-3’s modulation, and changes the mod wheel into a pitch bend.
- Cutoff Frequency - frequency at which the low-pass filter begins attenuating.
- Filter Attack Time - time for filter to reach peak intensity.
- Pitch Glide -the time it takes to sweep to the next note.
- Filter Decay Time - time for filter to decay from peak to sustain level.
- Filter Contour (aka Q or Res) - amount the cutoff frequency is emphasised.
- Filter Sustain Level - final amount of filter applied to signal.
The Minimoog is a subtractive synthesizer, which means that it generates a complex signal and then ‘cuts away’ bits of it. Its primary tool for this is its low-pass filter. All frequencies higher than an adjustable cutoff frequency are reduced significantly.
The cutoff point can be emphasised by dialing up the Filter Contour. This creates a spike of volume right at the cutoff point, and has a particularly distinct sound when ‘sweeping’ the cutoff frequency.
The filter on the Moog has its own envelope to control how much filtering is applied over time. It behaves like the sound envelope, with Attack, Decay and Sustain controls.
- Attack Time - length of time before the signal reaches its peak volume.
- Decay Time - time for signal volume to decline after peaking and release.
- Sustain Level - level of volume to decay to after peaking and before release.
- 4 recording channels
- Play/Stop button
- Record button
- Google Plus share button
- Link button
To record a clip, select the channel you want to record to and press the Record button. Recording starts instantly, there’s no count-in. Press Stop or Record to finish recording. Existing tracks can be recorded over, there’s no overdubbing behaviour.
- Modulation On/Off Switch
- Modulation Wheel
The keyboard can be played with the mouse or via your computer keyboard. On my keyboard, at least, the full range of notes can be played across the keyboard using the top row of characters and the number row.
The modulation switch controls whether Oscillator-3 is used as a sound source or a modulation control. When switched on, the amount of modulation can be controlled by the modulation wheel, and the rate of modulation can be controlled by Oscillator-3’s oscillator controls.
- Try a subtle amount of shift with two oscillators for a nice resonant detuned effect.
- You can get a sine-wave like sound by muting the oscillators, dialling the filter contour to zero and setting the cutoff at about 2.5.
You can see that they’ve managed to capture much of the core of the Minimoog. The three VCO’s are in place with full control tuning and shape controls, the envelope and filter controls are mostly the same. There isn’t a noise unit or a pitch bend, and I think you can’t use Oscillator-3 as a pitch modulator, but these are peripheral.
If you want more Moog-flavoured software goodness, you would do well to check out Moog’s app selection. Their Animoog for IOS is for sale till the 29th of May.
The Wikipedia page does a better job than I could explaining the significance and power of the Minimoog.
Have any question or corrections for me? Let me know!