Patching Sound – Understanding modular synthesis

The Moogseum just launched a new part of their exhibition “The Moogseum is thrilled to announce an interactive exhibit exploring the fundamentals of modular synthesis. Patching Sound: Understanding Modular Synthesis provides visitors with a hands-on opportunity to patch, or create, sounds on a synthesizer interface by connecting various modules that control individual parameters of sound.”

Patching Sound: Understanding Modular Synthesis features a unique interface comprised of an oscillator, amplifier, two envelope generators, low-pass filter, and a mixer, with sound generation powered by Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modularinstrument. It is accompanied by a narrated presentation that guides the visitor through each element of the patching process. 

The exhibit was made possible by a generous donation from Dave and Karen Rossum, with additional support from the North Carolina Humanities an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It joins a variety of other unique, interactive exhibits that provide Moogseum visitors with a rich, engaging educational experience.

Synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog, for whom the Moogseum is named, forged his path in synthesis by developing a series of early modular synthesizers between 1964-1970 with his first company, R.A. Moog, Co. These systems are coveted by musicians and collectors worldwide more than 50 years later, and are considered among the best-sounding modular synthesizers ever created. 

The expansive functionality and expressivity of these early systems serve as the inspiration for this new exhibit. 

A large, fully restored, historic Moog modular synthesizer originally created in 1968 serves as the inspirational backdrop for the interactive installation. The system was originally owned by Patrick Gleeson, founder of legendary Different Fur Studios in San Fransisco, California. It was then sold to synthesist Don Preston of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, who used it on recordings and on tour, as well as on the soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now

Walter Holland of Holland Synthesizers was its most recent owner. The synthesizer is now part of the Bob Moog Foundation Archives and will be used for future educational and musical endeavors. It underwent a months-long restoration by acclaimed restorationist Stephen Masucci. 

Want to get hands-on with a modular synth? This Moogseum exhibit, new in summer 2022, lets people patch in – and explore what it’s like to play and perform on a modular synthesizer. Sound designer Reek Havok, who created the custom, interactive exhibit, talks about how Patching Sound fulfills the Bob Moog Foundation’s goals of sharing the history behind modular synthesis, and the technology within the modules — both in a way that’s accessible to all ages and all of our visitors.

Visit the Moogseum website here.