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Description

The Apollo is a very rare proof of concept synth made by Dave Luce at Moog Music, as part of the large "Constellation" ensemble system. The other parts were the Taurus bass synthesizer, and the monophonic Lyra synth (made to sit on top of the Apollo). It was later developed into the Polymoog. Moog product description: The APOLLO polyphonic synthesizer is at the heart of the ensemble - a true polyphonic synthesizer and electronic piano. The Apollo will play all the notes and produce a wide spectrum of synthesizer or electronic piano sounds. The design of the Apollo - preset voices with variable controls - combines ease of playing with true synthesizer versatility. One new feature will remember and sustain every note played - "superchords" over four octaves can be played: individual articulators and voicing circuits for each key create subtle tonal effects. The Apollo supplies what performers are asking for: synthesizer control over sound with polyphonic capability. The Moog Apollo with a 48-note keyboard and full polyphony which would have been the core of the Constellation. It was designed by Dave Luce and after many modifications like a longer keyboard and a second VCO (voltage controlled oscillator) for each voice, the Apollo was commercially released as the Polymoog (the 'Polly'). The Apollo was an instrument that created only percussive sounds, because a sustain-level recorder was not planned in the envelopes. Per voice only one oscillator was available. It didn't have the ability to sustain tones. Dave Luce: "It was both direct comments and observations made by Rich Walborn, a Moog technician who traveled with ELP for a year, that made it obvious to Moog Music that certain changes needed to be made in the unit. The Apollo was a one-oscillator instrument. It became clear that it needed to have two oscillators, a thicker sound, to cut through. Another thing that Keith suggested, he is being a piano player originally, was that the keyboard have more than 48 notes. If you want a one-note effects machine, 48 keys is enough. But if you want to sit down and play the instrument unaccompanied, you need to have a larger keyboard." Keith Emerson: "You know, I helped design that. I spent about a week with Dave Luce in the studio. While I was there I was saying, 'It's good, but it could be better if you do this and this, and add this to it.' So he made some notes and then went back to Buffalo and had the second prototype made up. When I went to Buffalo, I tried it again. All the bumps were out and I said, 'Well, it could be good if you had the knobs in this position.' So he made some more notes, followed those ideas through, and the next thing I'm expecting is to see the end result. You'd think that after working on the instrument I'd get to see it. But the next thing I know, they've sent it to Patrick Moraz in Switzerland. Well, I was a bit upset. After all, after using it on record, helping develop the ideas for the one that was put out on the market, I felt I was involved and it was a bit of a shock when it went off in some different direction. So for a little bit of time I more or less said, 'Screw you,' to it. But Moog Music must have had some reason for it, and I don't feel particularly bitter for it now."

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