Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Far-out music, DIY style

“I can feel what’s going on inside a piece of electronic equipment.... It’s something between discovering and witnessing.”—Robert Moog  
Google has outdone themselves with today's doodle, a working model of the Moog synthesizer that allows you to experiment with creating/taping your own music. It honors the 78th birthday of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog in a manner he would certainly relish. Well worth filing away for when you have some time to fool around! Here's the link for the quick start guide on how to work the thing. If you try it in the Chrome browser, it all happens right there instead of being run through a plug in (in my limited technical understanding).
"When people hear the word 'synthesizer' they often think 'synthetic'—fake, manufactured, unnatural" Google software engineer Joey Hurst commented. "In contrast, Bob Moog's synthesizers produce beautiful, organic and rich sounds that are, nearly 50 years later, regarded by many professional musicians as the epitome of an electronic instrument."  In this video, a Moog enthusiast has already pulled together a tutorial on how to get the most out of the doodle—which is essentially a Minimoog. Did you know that the bass lines of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" were created using two of Moog's "Minimoog" synthesizers? Here are two hilarious, shot-by-shot tributes—one with stuffed animals and the other with Legos. Drag the cursor over to ~8 minutes each time for the good stuff.

An  interactive musical device celebrating electric guitar/recording wizard Les Paul sparked such a wang dang doodle previously that it also got its own permanent website, and generated umpteen uploads on youtube. In just 48 hours in the U.S.,  5.1 years worth of music—40 million "songs"—were recorded using the doodle guitar. Here are some examples in a range of styles. To have a go at it, you can either move your cursor over it to strum the notes, or you can use your keyboard to play them. ("Google instant"should be turned off to avoid being taken to the search field; the recording function allows for 30-sec clips. The Doodle works on all four rows of the keyboard starting at 1, Q, A, and Z. On the A row through the semicolon, you can play an octave plus two notes. I know that doesn't sound particularly helpful unless you're a natural-born musical genius [or exceptionally patient], but if you're determined to crack the code, I guess there's nothing for it but to .... Google a "how to." Happy plucking!) For inspiration, here's "Dueling Googles"—what a hoot! Keep going, because there's a hot breakdown. 
If you succeed with either of these devices, we'd be open to showcasing your results on The Daily Glean! The Bob Moog Foundation is even staging a contest for recorded Moog Doodle tunes. And if you've been out of the loop on Google super doodles, here's a Top 10 list compiled by the Washington Post's Michael Cavna.
1. Pac-Man: Video-Game Google
2. Google Balls: The Mystery Doodle
3. John Lennon: Imagine This Doodle
4. Martha Graham: The Dancing Doodle
5. Freddie Mercury: The Music Video
6. Jim Henson: The Clickable Muppets
7. Art Clokey: The “Gumby Doodle”
8. Jules Verne: The Deep-Sea Doodle
9. Stanislaw Lem: The Animated Sci-Fi Game
10. Valentine’s Day: The “Cold, Cold Heart” Doodle


  1. Its Moog time, I definitely have to check this out. thanks for the details and the link

  2. Google never ceases to amaze me with their creative designs to celebrate holidays & significant dates both famous and obscure. Can't wait to check this out!

  3. I remember your other post about NPR's All Things Considered using the moog in its theme. I'll have to check out the other doodles...thanks!

    1. You ARE observant! you're welcome. More to come (on doodles).

  4. This is so cool and innovative!!!

  5. I'm not usually one for electronic or synthetic music (I'm just not a big fan of the sound), but even I can appreciate the impact Moog had on music! This was a fantastic doodle; Google never fails to impress.

    1. Pembley PentangleMay 24, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      I agree, this Google Doodle is very impressive. But I must argue that Google has failed to impress on occasion. Exhibit A: maaaany MAAANY bugs in their various versions of the Android operating system. :-( It's necessary for me to volunteer my services as a bug tester? I would have hoped not.

  6. I saw this yesterday, but I didn't actually get a chance to play with it.
    So I was really excited when I found it here...

  7. technology, wow.