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Hands On - The Minimoog (part 5)

So far, we have had the ‘Osc-3 Control’ switched on. But what does this mean? Simply that the frequency of Oscillator 3 is controlled by the keyboard...


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So far, we have had the ‘Osc-3 Control’ switched on. But what does this mean? Simply that the frequency of Oscillator 3 is controlled by the keyboard. With this switch in the down (off) position then Oscillator 3 becomes an independent low frequency oscillator. Flick the Oscillator Modulation switch to the right and the mod wheel next to the keyboard, or your MIDI modulation wheel if you are using a Midi Mini, governs the amount of vibrato. The Range setting and fine tune knob of Oscillator 3 control the rate. Play with that for a moment then switch it off and set the Filter Modulation switch on (to the right). Now the modulation wheel controls the filter cut off frequency. I think this sounds great and I particularly love putting my guitar through analogue synths and getting a lovely bubbly wah-wah effect, better than you ever get from a pedal. If you really want to, you can modulate frequency and filter at the same time. In fact that is one of the best uses of the Minimoog - producing weird sounds. Experiment with some of the higher ranges of Oscillator 3 and you’ll start to get some pleasant, and unpleasant, growl effects, all classic analogue synth noises.

Of course there is still more to learn. Like the two Keyboard Control switches. Basically, if these are both off (left) then the keyboard will have no effect on the cut off frequency of the filter. Set switch 1 to the right and the filter will partially track, increasing the brightness as you go up the keyboard, but not very much. Switch both on and the filter will track the keyboard precisely. Different combinations of the switches gives you different amounts of tracking. One case when you need full tracking is when you use the Minimoog’s extra oscillator. “Where’s that?” you ask, “I see no extra oscillator.” In fact, if you increase the Emphasis (resonance) of the filter then it starts to oscillate itself. This is great for whistley type noises, and for weird ones too! Also the white or pink noise source is good for mixing in in small quantities to give added bite to a sound.

By now, if you have access to a Minimoog, you should be getting some really powerful Techno type sounds out of it. But there’s still one control I have to tell you about, so that you won’t use it in error. My feeling is that although revivals of all kinds of material have kept the music world alive during the late 80s and 90s, the world is not quite ready for the Rick Wakeman style of portamento, or ‘Glide’, that the Minimoog provides. Please, please keep clear of it until at least 1995, by which time the various synth manufacturers ought to have realised that the Minimoog does still have something to offer and that we really do need more synths that we can control. I would seriously recommend a spell with the Minimoog to anyone. You will see what we have all been missing all these years.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004

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