KUDOS Packs the best of the
MuRF and Bass MuRF into a
single pedal and adds MIDI.
CONTACT Moog Music,
(828) 251-0090; moogmusic.com.
AS A CHRONIC SUFFERER FROM COMPULSIVE
MuRF Obsessive Disorder—the original
Moogerfooger sees regular use in my live rig
and gets used on just about everything in my
studio—I was excited to hear about the new
MIDI MuRF ($479 retail/$459 street). Not
only does it combine the original MuRF
(reviewed in the November 2004 issue of GP)
and the Bass MuRF into a single pedal, it adds
enough MIDI control to make even confirmed
MIDIots giddy. The MIDI MuRF syncs to any
MIDI clock source; all of the knobs, sliders,
and switches respond to MIDI commands (e.g.,
you can “play” the Envelope control using a
mod wheel via Continuous Controller commands
or filters using Note On messages); and
by using Moog’s free software editor you can
create your own animation patterns.
Moog’s free Pattern Editor/Controller software
allows you to edit and create presets.
But let’s back up. For those not familiar
with the original MuRF, the Multi-Resonant
Filter pedal features an array of eight resonant
filters with individual level sliders, coupled
with an “animation” section that modulates
the filter levels both rhythmically and timbrally
via 22 pre-programmed animation patterns.
An Envelope control determines how quickly
the filters engage and disengage, Rate adjusts
the animation speed, and Mix adjusts the balance
of processed and dry sounds. All of this
yields effects ranging from subtle EQ and phase
shifts to synth-like stepped-filter sequencing
to hyper-distorted reverse-envelope mayhem.
And, as with all Moogerfooger pedals, all of
the key parameters can be controlled using control
voltages or optional expression pedals and
footswitches. covering a range of 160Hz to 1.8kHz. In Mid
mode, the eight resonant filters cover a range
of 200Hz to 3.4kHz. The two filter arrays
sound quite different, and which works best
in a particular application is a matter of taste.
The “fixed” center frequencies may also be
modulated slightly for phaser- and flangerlike
effects, and swept using an expression
pedal or CV.
The original MuRF pedals had two banks
of 11 animation patterns for a total of 22
each, whereas the MIDI MuRF’s Bass and
Mid modes have one bank each. While definitely
a limitation, this small step back fortunately
comes with a giant step forward:
Moog’s free editing software not only lets
you access additional preset animation patterns,
it allows you to program your own,
and then transfer them to the pedal.
As mentioned, MIDI implementation is
extensive, but the manual provides clear and
detailed instructions on how to control all
of the MIDI MuRF’s functions using CC or
Note On messages, and how to sync its pattern
clock to MIDI Clock messages, including
Start, Continue, and Stop. You can even
use Note On messages to trigger and affect
individual filter animation steps for modular
synth-like sounds. (Speaking of which,
Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante
uses MuRFs live to emulate the
sounds that he gets with modular synths in
I tested some obvious MIDI functions,
such as using the Mod wheel on a MIDI keyboard
to manipulate the Envelope control
(very cool!), and the pedals and switches on
a MIDI foot controller to alter other settings,
all of which worked flawlessly. Getting the
MIDI MuRF’s animation patterns to lock to
my sequencer (Digital Performer 6) was what
really excited me, though, and the results
were spectacular. For example, I was able to
create cascading patterns with rhythm guitar
and percussion while both tracking and
mixing, and have them lock so tightly that
they sounded great even when used without
the source sound. Another cool application
is to play guitar into the MIDI MuRF
and then record the resulting rhythmic pattern
into a digital looper. By syncing the MIDI
MuRF to my Looperlative LP1, I could get
multiple rhythmic overdubs and other loops
to lock together perfectly.
Finally, the software Pattern Editor/Controller
expands the MIDI MuRF’s capabilities
exponentially. The Panel interface mirrors
the controls on the pedal, and the Pattern
Editor interface lets you edit existing patterns
or create new ones by clicking on buttons
representing the eight filters within a
grid of 8, 16, 32, or 64 steps (see screen shot).
And, as each filter is independent, you can
program varying pattern lengths to create
polyrhythmic patterns that crisscross in various
ways. You can also “Flip” and “Invert”
the patterns, and access advanced controls
not found on the pedal.
If all of this depth sounds daunting, fear
not. Tweaking the MIDI MuRF’s sliders and
knobs produces very noticeable sonic changes,
making it actually quite intuitive to use once
you get the hang of it—and the step-by-step
instructions in the manual make learning easy.
Simply put, the MIDI MuRF is one of the
most innovative and musical-sounding effects
devices ever created, which is why it receives
an Editors’ Pick Award.
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