As you've probably noticed, today's Google doodle is a playable, recordable synthesizer with a very distinctive sound. What you may not be aware of is what that synth is called, and why it's getting special treatment from the search giant.

First of all, as music executive George Howard explained on Twitter this morning: "Moog rhymes with 'rogue.'" Now that we're all pronouncing it correctly, let's proceed to the story behind the instrument. One of the earliest analog synths, it was named for inventor Robert Moog, who would have been 78 today (he passed away in 2005). As Mashable reports, chief Google Doodler Ryan Germick set out to celebrate Moog's birthday by paying "tribute to someone who was like a patron saint of the nerdy arts."

Like most early synthesizers, the Moog is a relatively complex device, with a lot of moving parts; fortunately, the Google team has thoughtfully included a key for novices that should help get you up and running fairly quickly. Even niftier is the attached multi-track recorder, which allows you to save your work and share it via Google+ -- and the entire project was completed with the full cooperation of Moog Music and the Bob Moog Foundation.

This isn't the first Moog tribute -- some readers may remember the Moog Cookbook albums recorded by ex-Jellyfish member Roger Joseph Manning Jr. -- but it's certainly one of the most interactive. Have you taken a few moments to create your own Moog music?

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