Moog's Subharmonicon is a semi-modular polyrhythmic analogue synthesizer that employs a 6-tone sound engine and multi-layered sequencers to explore the world of subharmonics, polyrhythms, and the unique relationships they create.
Subharmonicon’s characteristic sound starts with two analogue VCOs and four Subharmonic Oscillators for a total of six powerful sound sources. Each subharmonic tone is mathematically derived from one of the two main VCOs, giving the resulting chord shapes a beautifully 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 unlimited freedom of no quantization at all.
Animating Subharmonicon’s distinctive chord shapes is done through a polyrhythmic pair of 4-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 analogue VCA to call up dynamic articulations ranging from lush pads and blurred edges to percussive plosives and ritualistic rhythms.
Although no patching is required to start creating, exploring Subharmonicon’s modular patchbay unlocks worlds of possibilities as you make novel connections and plug into new ideas. The 32-point 3.5mm patchbay can be patched into itself, expanding Subharmonicon’s onboard capabilities, or interfaced with Mother-32, DFAM, and other external Eurorack-compatible gear (MIDI Type A adapter included for DIN to 3.5mm MIDI input). Use as a standalone synth with included +12V DC power supply or simply remove the front panel to install into any Eurorack system.
The Moog Subharmonicon is a versatile analogue labyrinth of subharmonically derived synthesis and polyrhythmic sound, equally suited for losing oneself and simultaneously finding oneself.
Experimental Origins of the Subharmonicon
Subharmonicon is inspired by Joseph Schillinger’s mathematical system for musical composition and is influenced by two analogue 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!), an instrument capable of sounding multiple harmonically related polyrhythm generators simultaneously.
The Mixtur-Trautonium created subharmonics by dividing the frequency of its primary oscillator, while the Rhythmicon created polyrhythms that were multiplications of its primary tempo. These concepts of subharmonics and polyrhythms form the historic roots of the Moog Subharmonicon.
The undertone series, or subharmonic series, results from the division of an initial fundamental frequency (f) by successive integer values (unlike the overtone series, which results from integer multiples of the fundamental frequency). Where overtones are found to occur naturally in acoustic sounds, undertones must be produced through more extreme or novel methods, such as electronic circuitry.
Polyrhythms employ multiple rhythms playing at once to create complex, interweaving phrases. In the same way that a subharmonic oscillator divides the fundamental frequency (f) to create a musically related subharmonic, each rhythm generator in Subharmonicon uses an integer value to divide the current tempo value (t) to create a new rhythm.
(For further learning, research the work of Joseph Schillinger, Oskar Sala, and Leon Theremin.)
Moog Subharmonicon Features
- Subharmonic semi-modular synthesizer
- Two VCOs
- Four sub-oscillators that can be tuned to subdivisions of master VCO frequencies
- Two four-step subharmonically clocked sequencers
- Sequencers can affect VCO pitch or subdivisions
- 32-point patchbay for rerouting signals and integrating with external modular devices
- Moog low pass ladder filter
- Analogue VCA
- MIDI integration
- Amp and filter two-stage envelopes
Analogue Sound Engine
- 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)
Analogue Sequencers (x2)
- STEPS: 4 Steps per Sequencer, selectable Quantization
- CLOCK: Driven by any and all of the Rhythm Generators
Rhythm Generators (x4)
- 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
- JACKS: 32 x 3.5mm
- INPUTS: 17 Input Jacks
- OUTPUTS: 15 Output Jacks
- MIDI: 3.5mm MIDI Input (Type A dongle included)
- AUDIO: 1⁄4” TRS Headphone or 1⁄4” TS Instrument
- POWER: Power supply connection
- SECURITY: Kensington lock slot