Rick Wakeman on the Minimoog, and a curious story

In a Moog Mood? Here's a forum for discussion of general Moog topics.
Mooger5
Posts: 72
Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:20 pm

Rick Wakeman on the Minimoog, and a curious story

Post by Mooger5 » Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:02 am

Did you know Bob Moog was at one time the sixth member of YES ? :D

Another link found at the Vintage Synth forum. This is one part of Shape Of The Things That Hum, "a TV series looking at cult electronic instruments that have shaped modern music".

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 0131136179

Not all are nice words about the Mini, but wait for Mr. Wakeman´s final statement ("the Minimoog cuts through concrete").

User avatar
Kevin Lightner
Posts: 1587
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 5:20 pm
Location: Wrightwood

Post by Kevin Lightner » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:02 pm

Another interesting tidbit I heard is that Rick bought his first mini from the late actor Jack Wild of Puf n' Stuff fame.
Jack didn't get on with it because it would only play one note at a time. ;-)

Not sure if this is all true, but that's the way I heard it.

theglyph
Posts: 471
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 4:58 pm
Location: Jungle of patch cables

Post by theglyph » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:50 pm

Kevin, this is true.

Rick says it in the Moog Movie while talking with Dr. Moog.

User avatar
museslave
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:52 pm
Location: Asheville
Contact:

Post by museslave » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:52 pm

I desperately wonder when they're going to start interviewing people who know what they're talking about when it comes to Moogs. In nearly every movie/tv instance that people are being interviewed about any Moog synth, a good 50% of them say the most stupid, pointless, inaccurate, misinformed UNauthoritative nonsense.
It's like "hey, this guy plays a keyboard, let's use him as an authority regarding Moogs."
I spent a good amount of time during this video saying "no, that's not accurate... no, that's a mischaracterization... no, that's a rumour... no, that's from the perspective of someone who has no experience..." etc. It was infuriating! (the video... not my comments... well, I suppose my comments were, too)
Nearly every single thing the narrator said was inaccurate, or at least, some sort of mocking jibe.
I have to say that England is probably my first or second favourite country on earth... but what the HELL is it with interviewing people there about Moogs who cannot even pronounce the word? And then MOCKING it, like some sort of obsessive would insist that it be pronounced correctly?
The only two people who didn't anger me in that video were Wakeman and Clarke. Wakeman was, of course, wonderful. Clarke... what the hell? He wasn't doing anything even remotely Moog related... and they never explained what he was doing! It was like they had him on there as an example of one of these crazed synth "anoraks." This, of course, was not HIS fault, but rather those who produced the program.
And then everyone complaining about how expensive the Minimoog was/is... it's like this person whom I was talking to who suggested that I use a Voyager on stage instead of a Minimoog because of how expensive Minimoogs are... ummm... duh? Any worthwhile high quality synthesizer is going to be expensive, whether it has a cult following or not. Synthesizer appreciation is not class warfare. If you think Moogs are too expensive, perhaps you should get a better job. ; ) Maybe that's why I've never heard of your band, guy with the french-named band. ; )
Ugh. Don't tempt me to go through that line by line and point out all of the stupid crap. ; )
www.youtube.com/user/automaticgainsay
www.myspace.com/automaticgainsay2
www.myspace.com/godfreyscordialmusic

User avatar
Kevin Lightner
Posts: 1587
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 5:20 pm
Location: Wrightwood

Post by Kevin Lightner » Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:49 pm

Fwiw, here's my thoughts...

In 2000 I was asked to give a lecture about analog synthesis at the University of California Irvine.
Fearing I'd lose my voice or concentrate on one issue too long, I invited the talents of Brian Kehew as my co-lecturer.

What I found was that the audience covered a hugely wide gamut of interests and experience.
There were students with no prior exposure to synths or music production and also diehard synthheads with years of experience.

It was difficult to outline a 1-2 hour presentation that didn't both confuse the newbies and/or bore the hardcores.
Some compromises had to be made in order to keep the widest range of groups interested.

By varying the person speaking and presenting a wide range of information, my hopes were to appeal to both audiences by not spending too much time on any one thing.

The lecture was over before I felt like I scratched the surface.
I felt like I blew it and wasted everyone's time.
But afterwards there was person after person who came up afterwards to congratulate us on a fine presentation. I was surprised.
The overall consensus was positive amongst the people that attended.
So, it all depends on what one knows or doesn't.
Had I attended my own lecture as an audience member, I'd have been bored to tears.

User avatar
museslave
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:52 pm
Location: Asheville
Contact:

Post by museslave » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:21 pm

It is my belief that history should be portrayed in an academic context, as an academic context is less likely to portray the events of history in a subjective manner. Granted, everything is portrayed in a subjective manner to some degree, but the whole point of academic context is to provide as objective a viewpoint as possible. This is why, in college, one must research from a variety of angles, sources, etc. keeping in mind parallel histories, etc.
An academic context need not be a boring context. Certainly the synthesizer has a narrow appeal, but everybody tends to like music... and there are ways to make such expository portrayals interesting to everyone involved... it just isn't easy.
If I were to do a documentary about the Minimoog... even a fun one... I would not start the entire process by saying "let's find people who know about this thing, and have them talk." The narrator stated her complete ignorance, and then mocked those of us who were listening who didn't share it. That is TERRIBLE journalism.
It is a common problem in education that professionals are sought to teach particular concepts. A person may be the best businessman in the world, but that in NO way suggests that they are able to impart their knowledge and skill into someone else. Experts, professionals, authorities often make TERRIBLE teachers. A decent producer should research not only who knows about the topic they're portraying, but also should find authorities who are also good teachers. Of course, this would require some learning on the part of the producers, narrators, etc... which plainly was too much to ask. ; )
As for you, Kevin... I don't know how good of a speaker you are, but I know that the information you post here is unquestionably informed and researched, academically interesting, and portrayed in an easy and readable manner. I'm sure your speech was similar.
As for Brian, he's also very well informed and interesting to watch.
I wish I had been there.

I seem to have had a bit of success appealing to newbies and hardcores alike on YouTube and in classrooms. Ugh, I think what it comes down to is that I should start making documentaries on YouTube as well as demonstrations.
www.youtube.com/user/automaticgainsay
www.myspace.com/automaticgainsay2
www.myspace.com/godfreyscordialmusic

Tangsonghe
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:03 pm

Post by Tangsonghe » Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:30 pm

Hiya Museslave,

Thought I could provide a bit of extra info about what you watched that may or may not pacify you. You also might be interested to know why I thought the documentary was good. Just to put things in perspective I'm a London based Physicist and do a fair ammount of teaching, currently to
a bunch of students from the Royal College of Arts so I'm used to talking to people who have no background (and usually no prior interest) in what I have to say.

The documentary was made for Channel 4 and aired last November.
Don't know how familiar with UK TV you are but Channel 4 currently enjoys
itself as pioneer of Big Brother and other kinds voyeurism. It's audience has changed over the years from intellectual to young hedonists. So the documentary was really geared towards party people who have heard the sounds from Orbital (see TB303 section), Coldcut, Fatboy Slim etc and seen Rick Wakeman on Countdown and know nothing (and possibly prior to the documentary cared nothing) about the sound sources. Les Rythm Digitales (the Moog hating guy) - he did the synthwork on Maddona's last album, plays synth in a band called Zoot Woman that (judging from some of your excellent demos on Youtube) you might like and broke ground in the UK ages ago with a very cheesy 80s pop album with 90s beats.

The documentary was the classic 'keep the audience entertained/let's not be too serious' style which Channel 4 regularly uses to keep viewers from channel surfing. I'm sure in researching it and choosing interviewees the production team balanced how much info they thought was necessary with which music stars they could get that would attract the viewers (UK viewers).
They knew exactly what they were doing and the next day a number of (no synth player) people at work (they know I love synths) were saying 'hey, there was a synth program on TV last night!'. As an expert you thought the interviewees talked a bunch of crap but the audience couldn't tell any difference. Can you imagine how frustrating it is for me seeing Science documentaries? The distance between truth and reality can be much greater! The saving grace for me (and I've seen a lot of bad science on TV) is that I still remember that the audience won't know the difference and won't really care. If it really raised their interest levels, they'll want to learn more and that's where the likes of you and your marvellous youtube vids come in.

From what I understand you have a gigantic synth collection and can be considered a real expert in vintage analogue gear. That documentary was definitely not for you. It was for millions of people who have never even seen a Minimoog or TB303 and somehow have never asked where the sounds they hear on the tunes they listen come from. I was really chuffed to see it on telly because I never see synths talked about on telly. Nobody seems to be really bothered but on that documentary, somebody was and it made it onto national TV.

Unfortunately everybody I know pronounces Moog the wrong way and that is the way the name is known here. I have to use Mooooog to lay people and Moog (Mogue) to fellow synth enthusiasts.

Very much looking forward to a Moog documentary from you.

Regards from Tang

User avatar
museslave
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:52 pm
Location: Asheville
Contact:

Post by museslave » Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:24 pm

Hello, Tang!

A physicist? How COOL! I may have some quantum theory questions to clear up later, okay? ; ) I'm fascinated by physics and especially how physics has moved away from what could be described as empirical science (although some wouldn't describe it that way, as some empirical processes are being used). Anywayyy.

I can definitely appreciate your point. I often get into discussions with some religious friends of mine about the inclination for churches to start implementing modern popular music in order to get young people in the seats. The question I pose to them is: Is having people in the seats enough of a payoff for any theological incongruities that might be generated by such things? I suppose I would apply the same question to this situation. If interest can only be generated by sugar-coating the history, or having it somewhat-inadequately portrayed by popular people, does it do the medium good? There are benefits and setbacks to both stances. I guess if even outright falsehood could generate enough interest to propel someone into learning about synthesizers, it would be worth it. (perhaps I'll start citing studies that show that analog synthesis aids in virility, or something!)

About the Les Rythm Digitales thing:
First, I'm not sure why you would take time in a documentary about a device to give a voice to those who do not appreciate that device. It was strange to me. Certainly there are plenty of people who appreciate other synths more... but the documentary made it seem like there are those who truly find the Minimoog to be not worth it's prestige... and the fact that someone who has obviously been around the block would jump on that bandwagon is very surprising to me. I'm not saying everyone should worship the Minimoog, nor should everyone have to use it... but the reasons for its success, popularity, and subsequent price are at least based in true value as opposed to hype. It isn't the newbie kids who are paying the high prices for them, it's the studios and professionals.
I also bristle at the notion that the Minimoog is "limited." The Minimoog is not limited... it is what it is, and it does precisely what it does. For its list of features and functions, it is incredibly powerful. To suggest that it is limited is to view it from the perspective of someone who has unrealistic or anachronistic expectations for it... which is usually someone who is coming at it from a digital synth context, or the context of a person who thinks that analog synthesizers are supposed to imitate acoustic sounds... and if someone who is programming for Madonna...um... we'll say "has that perspective," it would damage them as an authority in my eyes. Again, a person can say that they don't like the sound, that they don't think it's worth the money, or that it doesn't have a broad enough palette for their tastes... but to portray it as a limited over-hyped device that's only good for basses and leads... well, that's just... ignorant.

I suppose my theory is that it is possible to generate informational media that is both accurate AND entertaining. Of course, it wouldn't be easy at all, and... well, it may NOT be possible... but I feel that it could be. I have, in the past, taught electronic history classes in high school. (single seminar-like classes, nothing full-time) It is VERY difficult to hold a high-school student's attention with anything other than what is interesting to them at that point... but I believe it's possible, and have had success with it. Since so many popular musicians of today still hold Moog in high esteem and say so, it's possible to make connections between the accurate past and the entertaining present. I guess we'll see what I come up with, and how much it interests anyone.
: ) Admittedly, I would aim it at anyone with at least a little interest in synthesizers...

I would be interested in hearing your take on the science documentaries you see... you must be horrified. I, not being anything remotely similar to a physicist, have seen documentaries that make some very dubious statements!

I am not an expert in comparison to many... especially many on this forum... but I have had and used a lot of analog synthesizers, and have been studying their history since I was young. While that documentary didn't need to be for me, it also would have benefitted from not offending me. ; ) And it could have!

The first mention of Moog I remember was a track listing on E.L.O.'s Out of the Blue album. I had no idea how to pronounce it, and went the Moooog route. It stayed that way (even when I was teaching electronic music history!) until about 1998, when the internet became a resource. Upon discovering the actual pronunciation, I went into an informed/layman mode... but I have found that it becomes tiresome making the distinction. The laymen usually don't mind being corrected. : ) I'm afraid I offended some people the last time I played in England because I was so insistent about it. I guess I am an anorak, eh? ; )

I don't know if I know nearly enough to do a purely Moog documentary (especially compared to a lot of people on this forum), but you can expect some peppy, happy, exceedingly pedantic and (hopefully) appealling-to-many documentaries from me in the future. ; )

Thanks for your post!

Marc

P.S. Thank you for the kind words about my videos! They have largely been aimed at people who might be interested in buying these synths... but they have appealed to a wider audience than that. Some have incredulously stated that they were amazed they could be entertained by 10 minutes of some freak babbling about how great a piece of equipment is... so that has given me hope. ; )
www.youtube.com/user/automaticgainsay
www.myspace.com/automaticgainsay2
www.myspace.com/godfreyscordialmusic

eric coleridge
Posts: 574
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:46 am
Location: NYC

Post by eric coleridge » Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:50 am

I like your u-tube videos too, museslave. But I've already told you that. You should think about starting your own website where you allow people to more/less demo various types of vintage analog gear. That would be great wouldn't it?

It would be like bluesynths, but much more objective.

You could have side by side comparisons of various synths, etc.

You could charge a modest fee, and use this revenue to buy additional synths to audition.

Or, maybe you'd make enough money off of ads, web-traffic, to offer the content for free.

What do you think? I'm into it. You want to go into buisness together?

eric coleridge
Posts: 574
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:46 am
Location: NYC

Post by eric coleridge » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:21 pm

Moreover, this could be your chance to create an accurate moog/vintage synth documentary.

I haven't watched this video in question yet, but if it's anything like any of the other moog/electronic music movies/videos I've seen, it's probably pretty dreadful. I don't think I've seen the Moog movie by the Scandinavian director yet though...

I think the ubiquitous lack of standards in these films/videos is probably due to the fact that Moogs, and electronic music in general, are now thought of as a popular phenomena---the flora and fauna of pop culture--- in opposition to their technical/academic beginnings in the mid 20th century. These documentaries, like similar rock and pop culture documentaries, are often poorly researched, poorly directed and edited, and are created to appeal to the broadest possible youth audience. They are not even intended to be accurate, informative, or artful films.

I would love to see a film about the academic/avant-guard origins of the Moog synthesizer, electronic music, music concrete, ect. I think many pop musicians/producers would also fit into this perspective as well (at least paranthetically)--so it would also have some wider appeal--but mostly stay true to the early forces that shaped the synthesizer's development. I have many books on this topic, but it would be wonderful to see a film like this with archive footage, etc.

I've been thinking alot lately about the potential of the internet as a venue for new and experimentsl cinema/video. With a DV, Final Cut, and a Mac, it's now possible for the average person to create this sort of content. Obviously, I'm not the first one to make this observation.

I think I'd like to begin a project of this kind, maybe after I finish constructing my modular.

User avatar
museslave
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:52 pm
Location: Asheville
Contact:

Post by museslave » Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:35 pm

eric coleridge wrote:I like your u-tube videos too, museslave. But I've already told you that. You should think about starting your own website where you allow people to more/less demo various types of vintage analog gear. That would be great wouldn't it?
That would be fantastic!
eric coleridge wrote:It would be like bluesynths, but much more objective.

You could have side by side comparisons of various synths, etc.

You could charge a modest fee, and use this revenue to buy additional synths to audition.

Or, maybe you'd make enough money off of ads, web-traffic, to offer the content for free.
I have considered it a lot... especially every time I look at the content on vintagesynths.com... who should be legally coerced to change their disingenuous name. ; )

eric coleridge wrote:What do you think? I'm into it. You want to go into buisness together?
I often wonder how much money could be made from such a venture. I have often considered just releasing in-depth DVDs about specific synths.
But, sure, if you want! : )
www.youtube.com/user/automaticgainsay
www.myspace.com/automaticgainsay2
www.myspace.com/godfreyscordialmusic

eric coleridge
Posts: 574
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:46 am
Location: NYC

Post by eric coleridge » Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:39 pm

Yeah, I'm semi-serious. I'm not sure how much money could be made, but the beauty of it is, there's very little over-head--aside from the man-hours needed to develop the content and website.

Plus, it would just be fun, and a provide a great service to the vintage synth user community.

I'm extremely busy right now, but I'd love to think about it more. I get a lot of different synths comming through my studio as well. I might as well be filming them, as you've been doing. You've done a really good job of presenting these instruments in depth. You must get a lot of views on u-tube, yes?

User avatar
museslave
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 1:52 pm
Location: Asheville
Contact:

Post by museslave » Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:35 pm

eric coleridge wrote:Yeah, I'm semi-serious. I'm not sure how much money could be made, but the beauty of it is, there's very little over-head--aside from the man-hours needed to develop the content and website.

Plus, it would just be fun, and a provide a great service to the vintage synth user community.

I'm extremely busy right now, but I'd love to think about it more. I get a lot of different synths comming through my studio as well. I might as well be filming them, as you've been doing. You've done a really good job of presenting these instruments in depth. You must get a lot of views on u-tube, yes?
Ha ha, entrepreneurial thread hi-jack! : )
I think it would be great. I probably wouldn't do it necessarily for money... I tend to create for the purpose of the creation, in general! But it would be nice if it itself paid for its own expenses.
I have been complaining about websites like VSE for a long time, and vowing I would make a site the right way...
Thanks! Yes, it's the thing that's been missing from all synthesizer sites... actual portrayal of sound and function... especially without genre portrayal.
I am nearly up to 500,000 views on YouTube... but 3/5ths of that is comprised of viewers of "Discovering Electronic Music" which I have posted there. : ) Still, 200,000 views isn't too bad. : )
www.youtube.com/user/automaticgainsay
www.myspace.com/automaticgainsay2
www.myspace.com/godfreyscordialmusic

Marzzz
Posts: 103
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2003 12:41 am
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Post by Marzzz » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:22 pm

Speaking of "Rick Wakeman on the MiniMoog," I am curious as to why he continues to use a MiniMoog as opposed to a Voyager (everyone remembers the video if him trying out a Voyager at Messe a few years ago, right?)?

Tangsonghe
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:03 pm

Post by Tangsonghe » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:34 pm

Hi Marc,

Nice chatting with you.
museslave wrote: I would be interested in hearing your take on the science documentaries you see... you must be horrified. I, not being anything remotely similar to a physicist, have seen documentaries that make some very dubious statements!
Yeah, I never and I mean never see documentaries on any physical or life sciences topic that satisfy me as a scientist (the very few that get aired). I recall that one on the MMR scare (spurious link of Measles Mumps and Rubella link to child autism) came close but the media damage had already been done. For about ten years I usually jumped up and down with anger but after moving to London and getting more exposure to media people and their ways I feel its like banging my head against a brick wall as these people really do live on a different planet and it is a very strange and powerful one. Interactions are bizarre to say the least and one often comes away misrepresented, quoted out of context or baited into answering a question a certain way to satisfy the agenda of the documentary.
museslave wrote: If interest can only be generated by sugar-coating the history, or having it somewhat-inadequately portrayed by popular people, does it do the medium good? There are benefits and setbacks to both stances. I guess if even outright falsehood could generate enough interest to propel someone into learning about synthesizers, it would be worth it. (perhaps I'll start citing studies that show that analog synthesis aids in virility, or something!)
I'll make one more positive comment about the Moog section of the documentary which left me feeling good and that was it started with Rick saying how brilliant the Minimoog is and ended with him saying how brilliant it is. Strictly speaking The Les Rhythms Digitales guy (Jaques Le Cont) comments about the Moog can be said to be 'balanced reporting' - get some positive feedback and some negative too. Of course documentary writers like it when this happens and usually they don't give either side a chance for rubuttals (which I hate)! It appears that they got the same artists to talk in each section - DX7, TB303 too and people said different things about different synths - Le Cont waxed lyrical about DX7 and others (Nick Rhodes) slagged it. One mans delight is anothers disgust.
museslave wrote: About the Les Rythm Digitales thing:
First, I'm not sure why you would take time in a documentary about a device to give a voice to those who do not appreciate that device. It was strange to me. Certainly there are plenty of people who appreciate other synths more... but the documentary made it seem like there are those who truly find the Minimoog to be not worth it's prestige... and the fact that someone who has obviously been around the block would jump on that bandwagon is very surprising to me.
I had to come to terms a few years ago with the fact that my favourite synth journalist of twenty years in the UK - Gordon Reid, Sound on Sound (have you read his synth secrets articles, all 30 of them? If not, check em out) thought that Moogs were overrated, preferred the Odyssey and with the influx of softsynths didn't appear to have any time for hardware anymore.
museslave wrote: I also bristle at the notion that the Minimoog is "limited." The Minimoog is not limited... it is what it is, and it does precisely what it does. For its list of features and functions, it is incredibly powerful.
Yeah, can't understand that either. But then again I hear people tell me that the Violin is limited! Musicians are a funny bunch of people.
museslave wrote: I suppose my theory is that it is possible to generate informational media that is both accurate AND entertaining.
We'll all keep trying!
museslave wrote: I'm fascinated by physics and especially how physics has moved away from what could be described as empirical science (although some wouldn't describe it that way, as some empirical processes are being used). Anywayyy.
I'm an experimentalist (nonlinear optics and condensed matter physics) and pretty much feel that nature brings up surprises all the time that guide theory - something that a lot of Physicists have forgotten.

All the best from Tang

Post Reply