Moog Music Announces Subharmonicon Polyrhythmic Analog Synthesizer
Moog Music has announced the Subharmonicon, or what they call “a versatile analog labyrinth of subharmonically derived synthesis and polyrhythmic patterns.” It takes its place along their other small-format, semi-modular analog synthesizers, including the Matriarch, Grandmother, Mother-32, and DFAM. The Subharmonicon is quite an interesting bit of kit. According to Moog, it was “designed for the exploration of sequences that unfold and evolve over time, spiraling through six-tone subharmonic chords and organic polyrhythms.” Others have compared it with the DFAM (Drummer From Another Mother), but it is quite different, not only in its architecture, but also its sound. It’s also a very hands-on synth that is meant to be tweaked and manipulated in realtime.
The instrument is capable of complex sounds and patterns with two VCOs, four Subharmonic Oscillators, two 4-Step Sequencers, and four Rhythm Generators. Although the unit is “normalled” – no patching is required – it has a semi-modular design, which expands its onboard capabilities, or interfaced with Mother-32, DFAM, and other external Eurorack-compatible gear. Unlike the DFAM, it does have a minijack MIDI input to ease syncing with external gear.
To design Subharmonicon, our team drew inspiration from radical theories on music composition that arose in experimental circles during the 1930s and 1940s. Subharmonicon is inspired by Joseph Schillinger’s mathematical systems for musical composition and is influenced by two analog innovations from the 1930s and 1940s: the Mixtur-Trautonium, which employed a series of subharmonic oscillators to generate electronic undertones, and the Rhythmicon (developed by Leon Theremin, the inventor of the Theremin), an instrument capable of sounding multiple harmonically related polyrhythm generators simultaneously.
The best way to get your arms around the Moog Subharmonicon is to watch it in action:
Subharmonicon contains a 6-tone sound engine and multi-layered clock generator to explore the world of subharmonics, polyrhythms, and the unique relationships they create. Subharmonicon’s sound starts with two analog VCOs and four Subharmonic Oscillators for a total of six sound sources. Each subharmonic tone is mathematically derived from one of the two main VCOs, giving the resulting chord shapes that have a certain coherent quality. Onboard quantization lets you dial in perfect intervals every time with selections for multiple tuning systems. Choose from contemporary Equal Temperament settings, the heavenly intervals of Just Intonation, or the freedom of no quantization at all.
Moog Subharmonicon Specfications:
» SOUND ENGINE: Analog
» SOURCES: VCO 1, SUB 1, SUB 2 / VCO 2, SUB 1, SUB 2
» FILTER: Self-Oscillating Ladder Filter, Low-Pass, 4-Pole (-24 dB/Octave)
» ENVELOPES: VCA EG (Attack, Decay); VCF EG (Attack, Decay)
» SEQUENCERS: Analog (x2)
» STEPS: Four Steps per Sequencer, selectable Quantization
» CLOCK: Driven by any and all of the Rhythm Generators
» RHYTHM GENERATORS: 4
» RHYTHM: Derived by dividing the Tempo by an integer value (1-16)
» CLOCK: 20 BPM to 3,000 BPM (Beats per Minute; 1 Pulse per Quarter-note), MIDI Clock, EXT CLOCK
» PATCHBAY: 32 x 3.5mm jacks
» INPUTS: 17 Input Jacks
» OUTPUTS: 15 Output Jacks
» MIDI: 3.5mm MIDI Input (Type A dongle included)
» EAR PANEL: AUDIO: 1/4″ TRS Headphone or 1/4″ TS Instrument
» POWER: Power supply connection via wall wart; barrel connection; center-pin positive INPUT: 100 – 240VAC; 50 Hz – 60 Hz; OUTPUT: +12VDC; 1200mA; draw 4.8 Watts
» SECURITY: Kensington lock slot
» PRODUCT WEIGHTS AND DIMENSIONS: Imperial (in.): 4.2h x 12.57w x 5.24d Metric (cm): 10.67h x 31.93w x 13.31d Weight: 3.5 lbs. Metric Weight: 1.58 kg
» EURORACK SPECS: 360mA (maximum) from +12VDC (10-pin header); 60HP (1″ / 26mm Module Depth
Animating Subharmonicon’s distinctive chord shapes is done through a polyrhythmic pair of Four-Step Sequencers. Each sequencer is clocked by any or all of four Rhythm Generators that output mathematical divisions of the master tempo. Layer multiple Rhythm Generators on top of each other to create complex polyrhythms and discover inspiring new patterns and styles. Delve into Subharmonicon’s dual Envelope Generators, Moog Ladder Filter, and analog VCA to create evolving distinctive tonalities.
Moog Music’s Subharmonicon costs $$849 and is available now.