As this month’s Keyboard pays tribute to Keith Emerson, we’ll cook up one classic Moog patch from him, then another from the only other rock keyboard hero people speak of in the same breath: Rick Wakeman of Yes. We begin with the instantly recognizable intro patch from ELP’s “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2.” I used Arturia Moog Modular V, a virtual Moog modular emulator.
Step 1. Amble up to your monstrous Moog modular, or perhaps a plug-in equivalent, and set two or three oscillators to sawtooth waves in unison, then detune them enough to achieve a thick chorusing effect.
Step 2. Route the oscillator outputs to Filter 1, then route its output to the VCA IN jack at the bottom right corner of Envelope 1.
Step 3. Set the filter cutoff relatively low, and Emphasis (resonance) just high enough so that a secondary “ringing” is heard.
Step 4. Set the amplitude envelope controls for a long attack, zero decay, full sustain and long release. This isn’t crucial, just make sure the sustain is up.
Step 5. Now for the secret sauce: Modulate the filter cutoff frequency with a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) set to a sample-andhold waveform. Dependent upon LFO rate, this chooses a random value and keeps it there for a fixed time before moving on to another value. Set LFO frequency to about 9.5Hz. Make sure the “Manual” knob is full up in the LFO section, then connect a cable from the sample-and-hold waveform output in the VC LFO module (the one at far right with a squiggly line above it) to the filter cutoff modulation input, then turn up the mod amount to about 0.4068 using the “ring” control on the input jack.
Step 6. Tweak the cutoff frequency and emphasis controls to dial in the sound.
Step 7. For the full stereo effect, pan the sound slightly to the left in your DAW, then use a bus send reverb set to a vintage spring or plate, and pan that slightly to the right.
Rick Wakeman’s solo masterpiece The Six Wives of Henry VIII is full of screaming Minimoog solos, but I’ve chosen one of the more unique patches, heard around the 4:00 mark on “Catherine Parr.” It’s a lead with a pronounced, slow resonating filter sweep that doesn’t follow individual notes. This is because stock Minimoogs only retrigger the filter envelopes if all notes have been released; when the envelopes are set to slow times, they continue to run when notes are fingered legato. I used Arturia Minimoog V to create the patch.
Step 1. Set all three oscillators to sawtooth waves. Set oscillators one and two at 16', and oscillator three at 8', then detune them for a gentle chorus effect.
Step 2. Make sure all three oscillator on/off switches are on in the mixer and set their volumes equally.
Step 3. Set filter cutoff around 200Hz, and Emphasis (resonance) all the way up—turn down your speakers prior to doing this! Set “Amount of Contour” halfway up, attack at 10ms, decay around 1700ms, and sustain around 2.
Step 4. Now set the Loudness Contour (volume envelope): attack about 300ms, decay around 800ms, and sustain at full.
Step 5. In the control section to the left of the keyboard, make sure the Glide, Decay, and Legato switches are all on, and turn the glide knob up about halfway.
Step 6. Add some long, dark spring or hall reverb with an insert or bus effect for atmosphere.
When playing this patch, notice how the resonance sweeps slowly over the notes when playing legato. It’s like getting two sounds in one!