Synthesizer maverick and Grammy award winning producer Malcolm Cecil announces the release of iTONTO, an app for iPad and iPhone that offers up a trove of historical and technical information about the world’s largest synthesizer. Best known for its prominence on four Stevie Wonder albums in the late 1970s, TONTO is a behemoth assemblage of various synthesizers and custom components, making it a legend in a field with no shortage of innovative instruments.
ONTO, an acronym for “The Original New Timbral Orchestra,” was the world’s first, and still the largest, multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer. Designed and constructed over several years beginning in 1968, TONTO was created by Cecil from two Moog IIIC modular synthesizers, four Oberheim SEMs, two ARP 2600s, modules from EMS, Roland, Serge, and Yamaha, as well as custom modules designed by Serge Tcherepnin and Cecil himself. This configuration marked the first attempt at creating a universal language for analog synthesizers made by different manufacturers to communicate with each other. It was a revolutionary development in music history. Digital sound-generation circuitry, a collection of sequencers, and MIDI control were eventually added.
The instrument is housed in a now iconic semi-circle of towering curved wooden cabinets, twenty feet long and six feet tall.
TONTO is an informational application that provides a platform for synthesizer enthusiasts of all kinds to get an intimate look at this otherwise rarely seen instrument. Every component, both front and back, can be easily expanded and examined. Further, the user can view original schematics or drawings for each component and read detailed descriptions of the functionality of each parameter, written by Cecil himself. A musical component of the iTONTO app is planned at a later date.
“I am gratified to bring TONTO alive for people all over the world through their mobile devices,” remarks Cecil. “Now everyone can get an up-close and personal look at this technological creation, one which inspired so much music of the late ’70s and early ’80s. It is only fitting that I give back to the pioneering legacy of Bob Moog through the Bob Moog Foundation, as his work laid the foundation for this instrument. A portion of each sale will be donated to them to benefit their projects. ”
iTONTO is available in the Apple Store for an introductory price of $4.99: https://appsto.re/us/f4ys9.i. A portion of the proceeds from the app will be donated to the Bob Moog Foundation to support their education and historic preservation projects.