Enter Dave Luce

In 1973, an MIT Ph.D. named Dave Luce joined Moog Music Inc, (then based at Williamsville) as Director of Engineering and began working on an ambitious project involving three separate synthesizers collectively know as "The Constellation Synthesiser Ensemble". The original press release read... "Available in early '74. 3 new Moog synthesizers coordinated to create the total sound for today's music". The Constellation consisted of 3 individual units. The first, the "Lyra Solo Synthesizer", was basically a beefed up Minimoog sharing the same 3 oscillator architecture but with a touch sensitive monophonic 4 octave keyboard. The prototype was given to Keith Emerson, (Emerson Lake & Palmer), who used it as his lead synth on their 1974 Brain Salad Surgery album and subsequent tour. The Lyra never did see the light of day however and disappeared into obscurity shortly after. It's likely however, that some of the technology found its way into the Micromoog (1974) and Multimoog (1978).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Luce 1975

 

 

 

 

 

The next, (and most important as far as our subject matter is concerned) was to be the "Apollo Polyphonic Synthesizer". The Apollo was Dave Luce's project and he worked on it exclusively, (Bob Moog had no direct involvment in the development of the Apollo / Polymoog). The prototype had a five octave polyphonic keyboard and the 1973 press release described it as... "a fully polyphonic keyboard with a full range of "synthesizer effects" and four presets including Electric Piano and Voice. It is the heart of the Constellation ensemble that will play all the notes and produce a wide spectrum of synthesizer or electronic piano sounds. The Apollo preset voices have variable controls combining ease of playing with true synthesizer versatility". It also went on to claim that, "one new feature will remember and sustain every note played "superchords" over 4 octaves.

 

 

 

Individual articulators and voicing circuits for each key will create subtle tonal effects. The Apollo supplies what performers are asking for; synthesiser control over sound with polyphonic capability". The early Apollo prototype was also given to Keith Emerson for a time but Luce re-designed it many times over before it became known as the Polymoog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final part of the ensemble was to be the "Taurus Bass Synthesizer". A monophonic foot controlled bass synth, with two oscillators, a switchable three octave range, individual contours for loudness, filter, glide and sustain functions. For reasons unknown, during the R&D phase, the Constellation concept was abandoned. The Lyra disappeared and the Apollo went back to the drawing board before finally surfacing as the Polymoog along with the Taurus, two years later but this time as separate, unrelated units.

 

 

 

The prototype Lyra (top) and Apollo synthesizers (now at the Audities Museum)