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In-depth Feature:  Why Can't We Forget The Minimoog?
The New Performance Synth will give musicians affordable access to an extremely fat instrument that now stays in tune and can be bought somewhere other than on E-bay
Ken Joyce writes: .


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When approaching both the 30th anniversary of the beloved Minimoog as well as the release date of Big Briar (Bob Moog's) New Performance Synth, it feels more than appropriate to comment on the progress and future of the synthesizer industry.

For any readers who have been locked in a very dark closet for the past year, Big Briar has constructed a new lead synthesizer, called the New Performance Synth, that will be released this summer. While I haven't received any specific details regarding this new instrument, the picture and accompanying blurp on Big Briar's web site (http://www.bigbriar.com/2000synth.htm) leads me to believe that the New Performance Synth is basically an updated version of the notorious Minimoog.

I must admit that I had mixed feelings the first time I read about this "new" instrument. True, The New Performance Synth will alleviate stress from the virgin-tight Minimoog market, give musicians affordable access to an extremely fat instrument that now stays in tune and can be bought somewhere other than on E-bay, and offer MIDI control capabilities without forcing us to hack apart another precious piece of musical instrument history and shove it into a 19" rack. But these features don't seem like much to offer when, after all, the synthesizer industry has experienced almost 30 years of technical advancements and spent countless hours and millions of dollars on research and development. So then isn't Bob Moog undermining the entire electronic instrument industry?

Certainly not. For example, does Steinway threaten the future of further developments in the piano industry because they continue to produce the best pianos in the world using designs that they perfected decades ago? Of course not. Steinway, like Moog, provides an industry-standard that all other companies must strive to be like. Not every family or church can afford a concert Steinway, but because Steinway makes such an exquisite instrument, there companies that produce less expensive alternatives that mimic a Steinway's delicate roar. The New Performance Synth will combine the raw power of a true analog instrument with useful digital advancements like MIDI control. It will remind every synth user what an electronic instrument is supposed to sound like and also offer musicians several features that they have become accustomed to. The other synth manufacturers are already being forced to comply with these old rules.

In an obscure way, Bob Moog's return represents a "changing of the guard" within the synthesizer industry. Until now, synthesizer technology has followed electronic technology's seemingly exponential curve. However, in the future, decisions regarding synthesizer developments will not be based upon whether or not adequate technology is available; rather, musicians who play the beasts will get to decide exactly what they want. Who cares if Korg can make a new chip that would make a Triton 256 voice multitimbral when all musicians are looking for is a synth that has one channel with one voice, is monophonic, and has lots of wood on it.

The New Performance Synth is a tribute to the success of synthesizers, and its release marks a key point in the development of electronic instruments. Please do not think of returning to analog as taking a step backward, but consider the possibility that we are now lowering our heads so we can enter the next exciting era of electronic enlightenment.

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