My second day of MoogFest began with an afternoon trip to the Moogaplex, to fiddle around with some Moog instruments first-hand and to attend one of the many afternoon discussion panels about the history of Moog instruments. I finally fulfilled a life-long dream of playing a Theremin. I played three different Moog Theremins actually, as well as a few different models of Moog synthesizers. I was not the only one in attendance having fun with the instrument petting zoo. There were about 30 or 40 people anxiously waiting in line to get their paws on a Moog. I can not think of another music festival where the fans get a chance to play with high-tech gear such as this. A very special treat provided by Moog Music.
The panel I attended was a narrated, power-point presentation about the treasure trove of Moog artifacts discovered in Moog’s country workshop and garage after he passed away. Thanks to a Grammy Foundation grant and countless hours of volunteer effort hundreds of documents, artifacts, and recordings have been cataloged and preserved. The panel made it very clear that this is an ongoing preservation effort and that donations would be helpful in saving all of this music history. Within this mountain of Moog documents all sorts of tidbits and trivia are being discovered. One example is that Moog’s first synthesizer prototypes were capable of polyphonic sound.* This was unknown to Moog historians until just a few years ago. The panel was the first time this information was made public; in a most spectacular way. By playing a recording of it.
For about ten minutes, Moog’s sound archivist played selections from rare recordings discovered in Moog’s workshop. These were some of the earliest synth recordings and proved fascinating listens. Two notable recordings were a riotous synth solo by Sun Ra and the earliest known recording by master synthesist Wendy Carlos. I’ll admit it was pretty mind-blowing to hear a recording of Wendy Carlos noodling around with a synthesizer for the very first time!** Hearing some of the earliest synthesizer demo recordings ever made was the perfect way to get psyched up for the performances ahead.