Moog Music Subharmonicon synthesizer leverages the past to make music

JC Torres - May 12, 2020, 11:00 am CDT
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Moog Music Subharmonicon synthesizer leverages the past to make music

While the present global situation has forced many to resort to all kinds of pastimes and distractions, it has also given rise to a newfound desire to create. From the physical to the digital, people around the world are finding ways to tap into their talents and their dreams to produce or try out things they have never done before. It is almost fate, then, that Moog Music, one of the world’s biggest names in analog synthesizers, is now launching its latest product, the Subharmonicon. Whether by itself or with other synths, the box promises to open a new world of organic and fluid beats and patterns, with a little help from the past.

Few would probably associate music, math, and engineering but it is exactly those that collide in the world of synthesizers. It isn’t a new invention either with the likes of Joseph Schillinger formulating a theory that used mathematical expressions to compose music in the 1930s. Subharmonicon also stands on the shoulders of the Mixtur-Trautonium and Rhythmicon, electronic musical instruments of legend in synth history.

But lest you think that the Subharmonicon is nothing but a cold and literally calculating machine, electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani demonstrates the somewhat ironic wonder of coherent, integer-derived patterns becoming organic and fluid beats. A short experimental piece marries music composed entirely on the Subharmonicon with analog video synthesis inspired by Schillinger’s “The Mathematical Basis of the Arts.”

The Moog Music Subharmonicon is more formally described as a semi-modular analog polyrhythmic synthesizer that uses mathematical ratios to tune its oscillators and to control its rhythm. It boasts of two analog VCOs, four Subharmonic Oscillators, two four-step sequencers, and four rhythm generators. While already usable as is, the Subharmonicon truly shows its magic thanks to a 32-point 3.5 mm patchbay that lets you patch into itself or, better yet, other synths.

The Subharmonicon conforms to the 60HP Eurorack format, complete with aluminum rails and contrasting finished wood side pieces. It is part of Moog Music’s family of modular analog synths and can be easily patched with Moog’s Mother-32, DFAM, or any Eurorack-compatible equipment.

Like any other analog synth, the Subharmonicon produces beats and patterns that will strike many as “old-school electronic music”. Drawing from decades of theory and practice, it is definitely something this synth can be proud of, building on the lessons of the past to make the music of the present and the future. The Moog Music Subharmonicon is now available from authorized Moog dealers worldwide.


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