Like numerous sliding uncontrollably down the barrel of 2020, I’ve uncovered it truly tricky to continue to be creative.

I make lists of issues to apply on guitar, acquire myself music guides, hear to inspiring records, and then collapse into Netflix underneath the bodyweight of it all. Before Moog’s latest modular synth showed up on my doorstep, I was commencing to believe I didn’t like producing my very own music any longer.

With its 33 knobs, 21 buttons, and two metal switches, Moog Music’s Subharmonicon—a “semi-modular analog polyrhythmic synthesizer”—is a pandora’s box of sound which is helped restore my musical electricity. In the thirty day period or so I’ve had it about my studio, it can be the best way I’ve uncovered to crack out of unhappy folk tunes.

It might seem like (and price tag as significantly as) a significant instrument for nerdy fans, but like all of Moog’s best creations, the Subharmonicon could just as conveniently be labeled a toy. A one convert of a knob can direct to new seems that excite the mind, even in the midst of pandemic-pushed writers’ block. If you happen to be a musical man or woman which is flailing in the existing darkness, it features concentration, special rhythms, and the sort of anxiety release that only arrives from taking part in a screeching analog synth.

Inspirational Devices

Photograph: Moog

The Subharmonicon is component of Moog Music’s Mom line of semi-modular synths. The family members contains the Mom 32, the Drummer From A different Mom, the Grandmother, and the Matriarch. But this Mom entry did not get a Mother-themed name simply because it can be a mashup of two legendary synthesizers.

The Subharmonicon usually takes the rhythm-fueled awesomeness of the Rhythmicon, an device from the 1930s famous for its use dicing up the piano on this Radiohead tune, and brings together it with the subharmonic richness of the Trautonium, the eerie synth accountable for the evil squawks in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. By mashing up these two techniques to sound manipulation, Moog has created a musical instrument that is capable of recreating driving, mysterious synth seems like you’d listen to on the Stranger Things soundtrack, or gnarly looping sound outcomes like you’d listen to from Nine Inch Nails—all relying on in which the knobs and switches are pointed.

The Moog Subharmicon is great at generating spooky rhythmic synth lines like these you will discover on Netflix’s Stranger Things.

It can appear to be scary at very first, as however making use of this individual synthesizer is complex science you have not been qualified in, but there is no “right” way to engage in the Subharmonicon. The sci-fi-like mix of knobs, switches, and flashing LEDs is not meant to be mastered, so significantly as continually messed with right up until something catches your ear.

Simpler Than You Believe

Supplied how complicated the entrance panel looks, and the seemingly infinite musical prospects it features when you engage in with it, set up is truly a breeze. The Subharmonicon arrives with a quarter-inch instrument output, and a 12 volt energy source plugs into the back. There is not even a energy swap. On the entrance-struggling with patch bay, inputs abound. It truly is even got a Midi enter, among 31 other solutions for routing several filters and oscillators back and forth.

Apart from the patch bay on the far ideal, the entrance of the Subharmonicon is divided into three most important sections. On the remaining is a sequencer section for rhythms, in the middle there is a pair of oscillators that enable you to choose three frequencies each and every (a person most important and two subharmonic), and on the ideal attributes an assortment of legendary Moog filters to shape your over-all seems.

You can simply plug it in and begin turning knobs and pressing buttons, but the best way to get to know it is by means of the use of a collection of cardboard overlays the corporation ships with the synthesizer. They sit on prime of the entrance panel and clearly show you precise configurations for anything on the entrance of the board, making it possible for you to get an thought of a couple of primary seems and functionalities before you acquire shot at cost-free-handing it.

I began with an overlay labeled “Jumping off issue,” and was speedily messing about with a round chorus of bleeps and bloops, striving to figure out what each and every knob did (to limited good results at very first). I’m sure with a couple of much more months of apply, it would be simpler for me to in good shape the insane seems the Subharmonicon creates into a prepared-built tune, but for the time being the best seems I’ve uncovered have come from very little, with the Subharmonicon acting as the unique sound.

Immediately after a couple of hours of struggle, I definitely began to master what each and every knob or swap did, and got even much more creative with my tips. I specifically liked locating a great looped rhythm on the sequencer, then making use of the created-in filters to make it sound like it was fading in and out of the length. I was even able to make a reasonably respectable re-generation of the THX theme (the massive bassy a person you know from theaters), making use of the Subharmonicon’s result in button, which will allow you to explore tones when a sequence is not working. That result in button, I’ve realized, is the critical to locating great seems.

You can use the result in button on the Moog Subharmicon to develop shifting seems like this.

A single matter I didn’t explore significantly in my time with the Subharmonicon is the patch bay. I tried out all the primary patches encouraged by the cardboard overlays Moog sent, but didn’t definitely mess with patching things collectively when producing my very own seems. I am sure if I owned a person of these synths, I’d shell out much more time striving to master that component of the instrument, which can be patched collectively with other modular synths. Moog even sent me a companion Mom 32 device to patch into the Subharmonicon, but I invested most of my time taking part in them separately. (In addition to matching up with other Mom units, the Subharmonicon can be eliminated from its enclosure and mounted in a Eurorack process.)

Musical Escape

It truly is definitely the feeling of making use of a Moog that I’ve fallen in like with. You sit there with headphones on, and an entire musical universe opens up before you, so uncomplicated to obtain that you can literally stumble into some of the coolest seems you’ve ever heard.

The Moog Subharmicon can make it feasible to make great rhythmic beats like this a person, which seems a little bit like horse hooves.

Then you can find the way it bodily feels to contact. I’d go so far as to say that Moog has the best knobs I’ve ever felt on any device. They’re sleek and strong, with a medium volume of tactile responses that can make it uncomplicated to trip filters and oscillators up and down right up until you discover the fantastic sound. Most importantly, the knobs stayed particularly in which I remaining them among sessions, even when I check out a subwoofer-happy Marvel movie ten ft away.

These days, the people at Moog could have conveniently extra presets, digital outputs, and a myriad of other attributes that would make the Subharmonicon much more usable to up to date music makers. Instead, you’ve got to tune the matter by ear, in some cases making use of teeny small knobs.

It truly is irritating, complicated, and finicky. You happen to be hardly ever sure you’ll discover the similar sound once again, but which is just component of the creative problem of making use of it. I just like it so significantly. Sounds of madness and chaos can be slowly adjusted into harmony. A horribly gross matter transforms into music before your ears. That struggle associated in producing it all come collectively is component of the issue.