Moog, Barbi, move: marking 50 years of the synth

(Supplied pic)
(Supplied pic)
Proto-punks Suicide. Top, Will Gregory and ensemble (all supplied pix this page)

THE MOOG SYNTHESISER was a breakthrough in humanity’s obsessive efforts to devise a machine able to create the wildest sounds a composer could imagine.

JS Bach had the organ, in the 1920s Leon Theremin, a Russian, devised a still-heard instrument that carries his name  and now we have tiny computers to reproduce and create sounds for music.

But 50 years ago the world first mocked then listened when Robert Moog launched his modular synthesiser.

The Barbican, always eager to innovate or at least to celebrate innovation, is marking that with a three-day Moog Concordance next month July 2015.

Its three days will include Moog-based music and newly commissioned works by Will “Goldfrapp” Gregory and his ensemble, featuring Portishead’s Adrian Utley and composer Graham Fitkin (how influential was Dr Moog), splendidly named American “maximalist” Charlemagne Palestine, US electronic proto-punk duo Suicide and perhaps others.

The series ends with the UK live-show premiere of the Three Fates Project by prog-rock keyboardist Keith Emerson and band, with an orchestra.

Keith Emerson, centre, with collaborators Terje Mikkelsen, left, and Marc Bonilla (supplied publicity pic)
Keith Emerson, centre, with collaborators Terje Mikkelsen, left, and Marc Bonilla

The Barbican seems taken with Moog: another event, part of the Barbi’s Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening summer project, will include a version of the Moog Sound Lab – a performance and recording series, giving artists the opportunity to experiment and explore with analogue soundscaping, synthesis and effects. Hip-hop to that one, all you rap packs.

And at the Barbican Art Gallery on Saturday 18 July songwriter Mica Levi will work on six new piano pieces adapted for Moog.

David Altheer 100615

* Moog Concordance, Barbican Hall, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS Wednesday 8 July 2015-Friday 10 July 2015 , 7.30pm: £17.50-£65, plus usual add-ons.

* Pretension junkies, note: the surname is pronounced something like “Mogue” (long o). Can stun a dinner party into a John Cage-quality silence, that one.

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