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How come Wakeman did not have a Modular Moog

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Gerinski View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gerinski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: How come Wakeman did not have a Modular Moog
    Posted: July 08 2013 at 10:41
Just curiosity in case anyone has answers. Rick Wakeman was for many years hailed as one of the world's top keyboard wizards, for sure at his heyday in the first half of the 70's he did not lack financial means (even if he went rather bad at some point afterwards) or potential for sponsorship.
And yet, he seems to have never been attracted to the big modular synths which in principle were the dream of any keyboard freak in the early 70's. No Modular Moog, no ARP 2500 or 2600, no modular PPG... not even a humble EMS Synthi A.
The relatively limited Minimoog seems to have been enough for his synth thirst until the late 70's when he embraced more advanced instruments such as the RMI Keyboard Computer (which in any case was not really a synth but a Rompler). Being considered as one of the world's top rock keyboardists and given his rather megalomaniac traits at the time, it's surprising that he did not feel like getting all those hi-tech gadgets. Pictures of keyboardists showing all their gear off were a sign of prestige, see Keith Emerson, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze of Wakeman himself in the inlay pic of The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.

Anybody has ever heard any comments as to how did that come?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 14:04
Personally I never really was all that interested in what specific model of instrument/keyboard anyone played....Hammond organ, moog, whatever.....Gibson guitar, Fender, whatever.....
I always assumed that the Moog was named after someone but I never even bothered to look up the person until I came across a reference to them in a crossword puzzle a while back.
Shows my ignorance about that aspect of prog rock.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CPicard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 14:21
Rick Wakeman is a great keyboard player, but I'm not sure he's interested in the manipulation of electronic sounds. I always had the feeling he's in a "classical" point of view concerning his instrument.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NotAProghead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 14:51
I've read somewhere that it's a headache to figure out how to play Modular Moog, how to reproduce the sounds you once played.
Keith Emerson got the idea fast (without any "user manual") and that's why he used this monster. 

Probably Rick, like many other keyboardists, did not have enough patience for this instrument. Add here the price, size and the complexity of its tuning and service. Definitely it's not an instrument for the majority of travelling bands.


Edited by NotAProghead - July 08 2013 at 15:02
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 15:54
I suspect that several factors are involved:
 
1. As a trained pianist (more so than Emerson) Wakeman prefered polyphonic instruments [there is an amusing anecdote that when he forst played a Moog he thought it was broken because it was monophonic]
2. Wakeman was more interested in instruments that you put on stage and rely on night after night - the Modular was too complex for that. [Great for studio work, not so great on stage].
3. Wakeman was a jobbing keyboard player in the early 70s and could not afford to buy a Modular 'C' series [his first Moog was a secondhand Minimoog]
 
...of course all those are pure speculation and guess work, as are everyone elses ideas.


Edited by Dean - July 08 2013 at 15:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 16:17
In my opinion, Emerson was a synthesist, fascinated with creating new synth textures and timbres and then integrating them into ELP's sound.  Wakeman was foremost a player, interested in using the available palette of sounds.  The Minimoog was perfect for him as it was the simplified cousin of the modular with the most popular signal paths hard wired inside.  I remember Wakeman causing an outrage in the music press (who already hated prog for being "overblown and pretentious") for stacking several Minimoogs on top of his other keyboards.  I believe he did that to have 3 unique solo synth sounds ready for him without having to mess with twiddling knobs between songs.  In the photo below, he has 3 Minimoogs in his rig:



Edited by The.Crimson.King - July 08 2013 at 16:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 19:03
Originally posted by The.Crimson.King The.Crimson.King wrote:

I believe he did that to have 3 unique solo synth sounds ready for him without having to mess with twiddling knobs between songs.


Exactamundo. When Wakeman would finalize a proper sound he could use for his leads, he taped the knobs "into place" and went and acquired another MiniMoog (that was recounted in Keyboard Magazine ages ago). I see at least three in that pic.

As for a large Modular, Rick wasn't the kind of guy to lug around a big piece of gear like that. Emerson had his piano, organ, clav, and the Modular Moog in a "|_|" formation. Rick preferred his 10+ models in a circular fashion and keep them accessible for particular songs throughout the concert.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zravkapt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 08 2013 at 19:50
Rick actually played one on the Strawbs album From The Witchwood (most likely the studio owned it). The same with Tony Kaye on The Yes Album. They call the modular Moog the "big Moog" for a reason: it's a keyboard attached to a circuit-board the size of a house. It wasn't cheap either. The MiniMoog was both more affordable and easier to carry around for keyboardists who wanted a synth in the early 1970s (the EMS synths were mainly used for sounds and effects rather than melodies or rhythms). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2013 at 00:23
Originally posted by verslibre verslibre wrote:


As for a large Modular, Rick wasn't the kind of guy to lug around a big piece of gear like that. Emerson had his piano, organ, clav, and the Modular Moog in a "|_|" formation. Rick preferred his 10+ models in a circular fashion and keep them accessible for particular songs throughout the concert.

I've read the funny thing about Emo's modular is Bob Moog built him a crude analog "preset box" which allowed him to change sounds without unplugging and replugging the wires and recalibrating the knobs.  Once he had this, the giant modular patch bay (and oscilloscope wave monitor) was really just for show...but what a show!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2013 at 01:36
Also Emerson never liked the Mellotron while Wakeman used it to great affect on Six Wives and Fragile. Different strokes for different folks. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 09 2013 at 08:32
Yeah, that's where Emo really stands out, his aversion to the 'Tron. It makes sense considering his percussive style. Wakeman and Banks and everyone else played legato lines waaay more often than Keith did.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Josef_K Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 10 2013 at 05:12
As some people have said already, Wakeman liked to have up to 4 Minimoogs on stage at the same time (and 2-3 Mellotrons) because he didn't want to have to tweak the knobs to change sounds in the middle of a song. I guess he couldn't possibly tour with multiple Moog modulars, so he rather worked with Minimoogs to get the flexibility they offered as compared to an arguably better sound, but just ONE.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 10 2013 at 10:37
Originally posted by verslibre verslibre wrote:

Yeah, that's where Emo really stands out, his aversion to the 'Tron. It makes sense considering his percussive style. Wakeman and Banks and everyone else played legato lines waaay more often than Keith did.

Ya that's an important point.  Banks especially would build compositions with sustained mellotron chords with vocals/solos on top where Emo created a more aggressive attack based on staccato chord stabs and flying riffs/scalar runs.  I love 'em both Wink 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2013 at 12:56
Originally posted by CPicard CPicard wrote:

Rick Wakeman is a great keyboard player, but I'm not sure he's interested in the manipulation of electronic sounds. I always had the feeling he's in a "classical" point of view concerning his instrument.

Agreed.

He left his experimenting at home and stuck to the music and its theory, though one should state that he played quite freely off that!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2013 at 00:07
With the absolutely wonderful lead sounds Wakeman created on his minimoogs, why should he bother with a modular unit ???  Even though you can generally tell when someone's using a minimoog, Rick's main lead tone is THE perfect sound - so rich and full  - especially something like the track 'Merlin', or even throughout 'Yessongs'.  I curse that darn polymoog he used as it sounded rather cheezy....... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2013 at 06:45
Was anyone else hoping for a third Retro like I was? I loved Rick's return to an all-analog format.

I agree, Tom. Rick had a surplus of great sounds in his arsenal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 12 2013 at 18:28
No minimoogs or mellotrons here, but Rick's 'Silent Nights' album is one of my fave x-over Prog album from the 80's - it's a generally under-appreciated album - it does sound a little tacky on the surface, but I find it has very strong prog substance and it's neatly arranged, and he's got a wonderful band together for the project.  Just thought I'd mention that,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rodak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2013 at 14:53
Seems I read somewhere that Emerson's modular was patched, at least most of the time, to a configuration VERY similar to what the Mini is hardwired for.  It's just a classic 2 or 3 VCOs set to sawtooth wave, going through the 4-pole LPF, modulated by the envelope generator (triggered by the keyboard), then into the VCA.

I think Emerson had some "preset" modules but I don't know how flexible or successful they were
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 24 2013 at 00:46
Originally posted by verslibre verslibre wrote:

Was anyone else hoping for a third Retro like I was? I loved Rick's return to an all-analog format.

I agree, Tom. Rick had a surplus of great sounds in his arsenal.

I gave favourable reviews to both albums so I wouldn't be averse to Rick completing a 'trilogy' as it were.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DiamondDog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 24 2013 at 13:48
Rick was/is a great player, but his strength was always playing on top of a band, where the band (like Yes) provided the body of the music. Rick gave the music colour, texture, alternative sound and counterpoint with all the various keyboards and often one-handed solos that sparkled and brought life to the music. He was never a player who attempted to carry the solid centre of the band, that was the strength (and perhaps weakness) of Ritchie, and to an extent, Emerson. 
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