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Art of Moog

Feature

Sixties psychedelia is reimagined in a late-night event at this year’s Bach Weekend writes Amanda Holloway.

In 1968 American composer Wendy Carlos introduced a whole generation to Bach as a psychedelic experience with her album Switched-On Bach. 50 years on, three Baroque specialists calling themselves Art of Moog (AoM) are ditching their harpsichords for synthesizers in homage. ‘We’re acknowledging the fact that this brilliant thing happened 50 years ago, but think there’s scope for a more spacious and imaginative treatment’ says AoM founder Robin Bigwood. ‘Some things are going to be a bit looser, a bit more psychedelic – we’re all continuo players who spend our time having to improvise within tight limits. This could be the same kind of thing expressed in a different medium.’

Bigwood admits he’s a bit of a synthesizer nerd, ‘I’ve always loved music technology and playing around with synths. But my fellows Steven Devine and Martin Perkins, won’t be fazed – after all they have to tackle strange organs and unknown harpsichords all the time.’ He describes the neutrality of the synthesizer as ‘a good thing – it allows one to play evenly and fast, which is good for Bach. We’ll be mostly using three synthesizers, one of which is a Moog, but more reliable than Carlos’s Modular 3C. We’ll be covering a cross-section of Bach’s forms and genres.’ Months of preparation are required, says Bigwood. ‘There’ll be hundreds of sounds flying around. It won’t sound like a computer – sequenced and lifeless – people want to see the players interacting.’

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