Tablet Talk


Oh! Musique Concrète! Animoog for iPad is Here



It was nearly fifty years ago. Herbert A. Deutsch and Robert Moog found themselves explaining to Canadian customs officials that a "cabinet full a modules" was a musical instrument—not some sort of weapon being smuggled into the country. It certainly didn't look like an instrument, Deutsch and Moog having left the keyboard used to control it back in New York. They were driving to the University of Toronto, to one Professor Gustave Ciamaga teaching a course on electronic music composition. But the prototype was not going to enter Canada. The customs officers were not buying their enthusiastic declaration that it would impact classical and popular music alike, creating new sounds and forms of composition previously impossible. They might as well have said, "This changes everything." Yet the skepticism of the officers remained unchanged.


A cabinet full of modules.

A lot less than fifty years ago, Steve Jobs unveiled the long rumored and much anticipated iPad. In the few months between the event and the launch, the most vociferous of pundits expressed their disappointment and disdain. It didn't have a USB port. Or an SD card slot. Or a camera. Or real multitasking. On and on. It also didn't have a keyboard. It was just a big iPod Touch—suitable for the consumption of content, but not its creation. It was a useful letdown or a useless flop. The skepticism of the pundits remained unchanged.

Back in that customs office in the summer of 1965, the disbelieving faces were not going to let Deutsch and Moog take their suspicious device into the country nor back into the US. But then a french-speaking customs officer came in. He heard their story and exclaimed, "Oh! Musique concrète—musique electronique—je comprende." They were free to go.

In April of 2010, the iPad finally launched. The criticisms still hold true. But what the pundits missed was that this device is categorically different—its limitations are some of its greatest strengths. The iPad is not meant to be a replacement for the PC, just like electronic music was not meant to replace traditional music. The Moog and its electronic brethren have not eradicated violins and oboes, guitars and saxophones. They have made those stalwarts of classical and popular music better—more versatile, not less. They have helped usher in new ways of creative exploration. Fittingly, Moog has now brought that exploration to the iPad with Animoog.

A Tour of Animoog from Moog Music on Vimeo.

What Moog and Deutsch dreamed up all those years ago now has a multitouch interface driven by its new Anisotropic Synth Engine—technology that allows Moog Music to herald it as the first professional polyphonic synthesizer for the iPad. With many of the features of very expensive hardware, it has a price to match—a still cheap and worth it 30 bucks—though if you have an iPad, are thinking about having an iPad, or know someone who might know someone who might possibly have an iPad, you can nab this for a buck if you get it now. For the price of a pack of gum you can pick up the assurance that, should one day a tech pundit assault you with words like ‘useless’ and ‘consumption’, you can whip out this app and silence them forever.

Best of all, despite the heightened security and TSA pat downs, you don't even have to take this Moog out of your carry-on bag.


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