The Moog Taurus bass pedal synth was a totally unique product (then and now) in that it was a simple bass synth that could be played with the feet.
The Taurus was originally planned as a component of a big synth system called 'Constellation' comprising the 'Apollo' (later to become the PolyMoog) for chords, the 'Lyra' for melodies and the Taurus pedals for bass accompaniment and the proposed system was not unlike some huge (and expensive!) hi-tech organ. Of course, this system never really saw the light of day but the PolyMoog and Taurus were sold separately instead (whatever happend to the 'Lyra'?!).
The Moog Taurus bass pedals were released in the mid-'70s to much acclaim.... they hit the spot with the then popular progressive rock bands for adding an extra element to their (dare I say it?!) pompous and pretentious stage productions.
The Taurus synth engine was a very simple 2-oscillator affair through the famous Moog filter and two simple envelopes - one for the filter, the other for amplitude shaping - with switchable release. As you can see, a very unremarkable synth. What users were paying for, however, was the 'concept'.... the notion of being able to add bass lines to their music whilst their two hands were otherwise occupied. They were also paying for the Taurus's astonishing build quality - it was a big, heavy affair that was built like a tank to withstand being stamped on.
Four footswitches were provided to select presets (Tuba, Bass, Taurus and Variable) and others to switch glide on and off, to transpose the sound up and down and to switch envelope release on and off. Two large 'footsliders' at the top of the instrument allowed you to control level and filter cutoff with your feet and so it was possible to achieve a fair amount of 'hands-free' operation on-stage.
More in-depth programming was possible by lifting the flap on the top of the panel where the simple synth was laid out using a handful of small sliders - these settings were selected with the VARIABLE 'preset'.
Four footswitches were provided to select presets (Tuba, Bass, Taurus and Variable) and others to switch glide on and off, to transpose the sound up and down and to switch envelope release on and off. Two large 'footsliders' at the top of the instrument allowed you to control level and filter cutoff with your feet and so it was possible to achieve a fair amount of 'hands-free' operation on-stage. More in-depth programming was possible by lifting the flap on the top of the panel where the simple synth was laid out using a handful of small sliders - these settings were selected with the VARIABLE 'preset'.
However, I think it's fair to say that most people only used it for THAT sound, the Taurus preset, and the others barely got a look in.
Famous users include Mike Rutherford of Genesis who replaced his old Dewtron bass pedals with the Taurus. He would use the Taurus whilst playing 12-string guitar and the sound is evident on many of the post-Gabriel Genesis albums, especially the live album 'Seconds Out'. Fellow band member, Steve Hackett, also used them (and apparently Tony Banks, the band's keyboard player). Other users include Rush, the Police, Marillion and many others.
Despite the synth's minimal functionality, the sound of the Taurus is legendary ... thick and fat with pulsating detuned oscillators and, of course, that famous Moog sound. The actual Taurus preset is a classic - it has a moderately bright attack which decays to a deep, powerful and solid sustain.... it is just about the perfect bass sound for adding weight to a track.
Moog tried to breathe life into the concept in the early '80s and the Taurus was updated with a Mark II version which separated the control section from the pedal section on a kind of 'pedestal' that made on-stage programming (marginally) more viable. The pedal board itself was also extended from the Mark 1's single octave to an octave and a half. Sadly, the Taurus II pretty much disappeared without trace in a world that was now beginning to savour the delights of FM synthesis, MIDI, sampling, etc., and because many felt that the Mark II had lost the sonic depth and character of the original (hardly surprising - it was essentially the budget Moog Rogue!).
However, the legendary Moog Taurus is on the way back because Moog Music are building a new 1,000 unit limited edition 'Taurus 3' which is now available. With the same essential features and sound of the original (based on the original's circuits), it also offers more presets, MIDI over DIN and USB, CV and Gate inputs and other refinements that will bring it roaring into the modern age.
The samples here come from Taurus Mk I owner and vintage synth aficiando Paul Ward who has carefully sampled his pristine instrument over its entire three octave range with long and sumptuous samples lasting as long as 20 seconds before Hollow Sun's legendary seamless loops kick in.
This is a woofer wobbling delight for all afficiandos of the lower end and arguably the finest representation of this classic sound.
The Kontakt control panel is similar in many ways to the original offering control of filter cutoff and resonance and envelope sweep and a simple amplitude envelope.
You can download the Taurus User Guide HERE
|NOTE : It will work with the Kontakt Player but only in 'demo' mode and the session will be time limited.