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Subject: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/22/05 at 12:56 pm

ROBERT A. MOOG
1934--2005

R.I.P.
:\'( :\'( :\'(

A sad day for electronic music fans worldwide!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050822/ap_on_en_mu/obit_moog

When you think of the musical instrument known as the "synthesizer," chances are you're thinking of Dr. Moog's invention.  Moog is the man who merged the keyboard with the synthesizer in the 1960s.
Prior to Moog, a synthesizer was a cumbersome apparatus of circuits, switches, and wires.  Early pioneers of synthesizer music, such as Milton Babbitt, James Tenney, Pauline Oliveros, Max Mathews, and Vladimir Ussachevsky, had to be part composer, part musician, and part electrical engineer!  Before Moog the synthesizer was restricted to places like RCA, Bell Labs, government research facilities, and major universities.  The equipment was frightfully expensive, difficult to operate, and required constant maintenance.  Typically, a composer would spend weeks and months "synthesizing" sounds, and then more weeks and months arranging and editing the compositions on the reel-to-reel tapes on which they were stored. 
Some artists used non-Moog electronics live, most notably John Cage, David Tudor, Alvin Curran, Robert Ashley, Frederic Rzewski, and Evan Parker.  These shows of modules, oscillators, and circuitry often accompanied modern dance, such as by Merce Cunningham's ballet company, or esoteric beat happenings as with Musica Elettronica Viva (feat. Curran, Ashley, and Rzewski).

I'm afraid the background on pre-Moog synthesizer innovation (of which I have just mentioned only a sliver) will be left out of remembrances of Robert Moog in the popular press.

The Yahoo article and most other obits on Moog will mention Wendy Carlos and the pop music artists who adopted the Moog synthesizer.  They probably won't mention that the early Moog from 1968 was quite an immobile and affair, and that the Moog synthesizer used by touring groups such as Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer was actually the Mini-Moog, which didn't arrive on the scene until about 1971.  I noticed also the Yahoo obit did not mention early all-synth groups, such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and Cluster.

I doubt also a couple of my favorite Moog-using artists will be mentioned.  One is the French electronic jazz-rock pioneer Richard Pinhas and his studio/group Heldon.  Pinhas used the Mini-Moog on his tours and albums throughout the '70s and early '80s.  Also, the first all-synthesizer touring group was actually called Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.  MMPMC, led by composer David Borden, were personal friends of Moog.  They toured and recorded in the late '60s and early '70s, and have worked sporadically throughout subsequent decades.  Both Pinhas's and MMPMC's work is available on Cuneiform Records.

http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/

http://eer-music.com/Bob_Moog.jpg
Dr. Moog and synthesizers



Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: Billy Florio on 08/22/05 at 1:36 pm

I was just about to post this.  THis is a sad day.  As many of you know (because Ive mentioned it before), Moog's collaberator on the Moog synth, Herb Deutsh was a professor of mine at Hofstra.  I took the Electronic music class that he taught.  what a sad day. 

http://www.vh1.com/news/articles/1508021/20050822/index.jhtml?headlines=true

Bob Moog, Electronic Music Innovator, Dies At 71

Musical icon invented the synthesizer that carries his name.

by Gil Kaufman

Dr. Robert Moog, an innovator of electronic music, died at his home in Asheville, North Carolina, on Sunday. He was 71. The inventor of the Moog synthesizer — whose variants have been used by everyone from Pink Floyd to Kraftwerk, Duran Duran,

the Black Eyed Peas and the Neptunes — was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in April and had received radiation therapy and chemotherapy to combat the disease, according to a post on his official Web site.

Born on May 23, 1934 in New York, Moog began tinkering with early versions of electronic instruments as a teenager. After writing an article about them in 1954, he opened a business building and selling theremins, machines in which pitch and volume could be controlled by the wave of a musicians' hand. Moog earned degrees in physics, electrical engineering and engineering physics before staring out on a path that would turn him into an icon for generations of modern musicians.

By 1963, Moog developed the first widely used electronic instrument, a synthesizer, whose first popular appearance was on the Monkees album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.. The instrument had its breakthrough, though, in 1969 when musician Walter (now known as Wendy) Carlos had a Grammy-winning smash with Switched on Bach, an album of electronic versions of Johann Sebastian Bach pieces.

Moog's synthesizers, which came with a piano-style keyboard, quickly became popular with rock musicians, who appreciated the wide range of unique sounds they could create by adjusting the various controls. Moog synthesizers appeared on the Beatles' Abbey Road and the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."

Moog reached a bigger audience in 1971 with his more portable Minimoog Model D, which had an even wider range of variations. His devices, which were heavily used by prog rock bands of the '70s, included the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer, which gave thick bass sounds to Genesis, Rush, U2 and the Police. Songs such as Donna Summer's 1977 disco hit "I Feel Love" were created almost entirely from Moog synthesizers, inspiring countless techno producers and artists of the 1980s and '90s.

Though digital synthesizers would eventually replace the analog ones popularized by Moog, the warm, organic tones of his instruments were rediscovered in the 1990s by a wave of musicians who sought out the original versions, spawning tribute groups such as the Moog Cookbook and a movie, "Moog," in which artists including DJ Logic, Money Mark, Mix Master Mike, DJ Spooky and Yes' Rick Wakeman paid tribute to the inventor/musical innovator.

And a nice article on the history of Moog:
http://www.vh1.com/movies/news/articles/1491321/09232004/story.jhtml

Moog Documentary Clearly A Labor Of Love, By Kurt Loder

As the man who brought the synthesizer out of the laboratory and into popular music, Robert Moog is a tantalizing subject for a documentary.

by Kurt Loder
Bob Moog in "Moog" (Moog Music/Plexifilm) "Moog": The Godfather of Synth-Pop

As the man who brought the synthesizer out of the laboratory and into popular music, Robert Moog is a tantalizing subject for a documentary, and it's admirable that California filmmaker Hans 

Fjellestad, a musician himself, has done one. His 70-minute feature, "Moog," is clearly a labor of love.

Robert Moog (his surname rhymes with "vogue") is a New York electrical engineer, inventor and music nut, born in 1934, who became fascinated at an early age by sound — in particular, the very strange sound of the theremin, an electronic instrument invented in 1919 by a Russian scientist named Leon Theremin. Theremin was a pioneer, but even back then, the dream of electronic musical production wasn't new. In 1897, an American inventor named Thaddeus Cahill had patented a machine he called a telharmonium, an enormous heap of Victorian technology which generated audio frequencies and piped them out through huge acoustic megaphones. (Amplifiers and speakers had of course yet to be invented.) The telharmonium was an impressive sonic monstrosity in its time (Mark Twain was among those most impressed), but it had serious drawbacks. For one thing, it was 60 feet long and weighed 200 tons, and transporting it anywhere required the use of 30 railroad cars. The theremin, the first entirely electronic instrument, was much more portable. It was essentially a box with two antennas attached; pitch and volume were controlled by hand movements near the antennas, and the resulting sound was stark and eerily beautiful. (It became a familiar component of otherworldly movie soundtracks, starting with the 1951 sci-fi classic, "The Day the Earth Stood Still"; and latter-day versions of the instrument were used by such rock bands as the Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin.)

Bob Moog built his own theremin at the age of 14, and later went into business selling theremin kits to musicians by mail order. Business wasn't exactly brisk, but Bob was in the right place for the major musical changes that were at hand. By the 1950s, electronic music was blossoming internationally. Experimental labs had popped up in France and Germany; and in New York City in 1955, RCA unveiled its groundbreaking, room-size Mark II synthesizer, which was said to be able to synthesize any sound. The problem with the Mark II — apart from the fact that it couldn't be "played," exactly, but had to be programmed with paper tapes — was that very few people ever got to use it, and those who did found themselves having to engage in complicated consultations with attendants in white lab coats.

Apart from the distinctive filtered sound of his instruments, and their user-friendly keyboards, one of Moog's most useful contributions to the development of the synthesizer was his use of then-new solid-state electronic technology, which shrank the size of his synths down to non-humongous levels. Working with a Hofstra University music professor named Herbert Deutsch, he designed his first synthesizer in 1964, and began building prototype Moogs the following year. Their impact on popular music was swift and revolutionary. One of the first composers to take them up was Walter Carlos, who used Moogs to record a 1968 album called Switched-On Bach, which became the first album of classical music ever to go platinum, much to the horror of concert-hall traditionalists. The Beatles used Moogs (then retailing for around $11,000) on the last album they recorded, Abbey Road. So did the Byrds and the Doors, and later Pink Floyd and Parliament and Brian Eno and Kraftwerk. Mick Jagger bought one, and reportedly sold it to the German band Tangerine Dream before ever actually using it himself. In 1970, the Minimoog appeared — the perfect portable instrument for the touring musician. That same year, Keith Emerson's wild, yowling Moog solo on the Emerson, Lake & Palmer hit "Lucky Man" demonstrated for delighted keyboard players everywhere that it was at last possible for them to blow amp-shredding lead guitarists right off the stage, if they so chose. By 1977, Moogs were ubiquitous: producer Giorgio Moroder used them to create the first completely synthesized pop hit, Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."

But the Moog era was coming to an end. Bob had sold his business in 1975, the same year that the first digital synthesizer, the Synclavier, appeared, heralding a more complex generation of computer-based, sample-driven musical technology. Bob moved to North Carolina, where he continues to produce new instruments today (including a computer-compatible version of his first love, the theremin). This is where we find him at the beginning of "Moog," the movie.

Bob Moog's story, packed with star-power and played out across an exciting period of musical history, would make a fabulous documentary. Unfortunately, "Moog" isn't it. To a great extent, this is due to the severe budget constraints under which director Fjellestad obviously had to work. Doing colorful justice to this tale would require extensive use of old concert footage — we want to see Keith Emerson and Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman (another Moog enthusiast) onstage in their prime, making the music that Bob's synths made possible. But period footage of that sort is very expensive to license, and sometimes unobtainable at any price. (According to "Moog" producer Ryan Page, Walter Carlos — known as Wendy Carlos since a 1972 sex-change operation — threatened to sue if he was shown in the picture.) So what we get instead is Emerson and Wakeman today, two men in their 50s reminiscing (sometimes amusingly) about a fabled long-ago time that we don't get to see (and, if we weren't there, can't really envision). Worse yet, we see them playing at a recent "Moog Fest" in New York, where their flamboyantly ornate prog-rock synth-soloing demonstrates anew why punk just had to happen. Also shown noodling about to no particular purpose are Mix Master Mike and Money Mark, the Beastie Boys collaborators — good musicians, but why them? The only contemporary participant with anything thoughtful to contribute is DJ Spooky (Paul Miller), who says to Moog at one point, while they're hanging out somewhere, that sampling is "a way of playing with systems of memory."

Fortunately, the focus is mainly on the white-haired, avuncular Moog, who at 70 years old is still a spry and engaging character. Although he has a Ph.D. in engineering physics, he's anything but a white-lab-coat kind of guy. He says his innovations were all prompted by the needs of musicians, and he's remarkably diffident about his remarkable contribution to the art of creating music. Undeniably, he was a major force in helping launch the revolution that made synthesizers an easily transportable everyday wonder, now unremarkably common on stages, in studios, and hooked up to even the most modest home-recording rigs. But Moog, a man receptive to spiritual illuminations, sees himself almost as a bystander to all this. "I can feel what's going on inside a piece of electronic equipment," he says simply. "It would be egotistical to say 'I thought of it.' I opened my mind and the idea came through. It's something between discovering and witnessing."

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 08/22/05 at 8:32 pm

Thanks for posting that article, Billy.  Wow, you were lucky to have Herbert Deutsch as a professor.  He's written extensively about electronic music and instruments (ie. "Synthesis: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Electronic Music").  I actually don't have any of his recordings, but I am familiar with the man, mostly through Moog.

That article mentions the Moog documentary by Hans Fjellestad, which I can't wait to see.  Fjellestad also made a documentary called "Frontier Life," about the arts scene on the San Diego--Tijuana axis.  Fjellestad's music is sort of a hybrid of jazz, electronica, and modern classical musics.  Third Stream, if you will.  I play his music a lot on my radio program.
He is affiliated with the Trummerflora Collective of San Diego, which also includes another favorite, Marcelo Radulovich, also George Lewis, Marcos Fernandez, Ellen Weller, Damon Holzborn, and many others.  Worth checking out:

http://www.trummerflora.com/about/
8)


Anyway, I'm glad there's somebody else here observing the death of Dr. Moog!
:) :\'(

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: Tony20fan4ever on 08/23/05 at 12:30 am


Thanks for posting that article, Billy. Wow, you were lucky to have Herbert Deutsch as a professor. He's written extensively about electronic music and instruments (ie. "Synthesis: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Electronic Music"). I actually don't have any of his recordings, but I am familiar with the man, mostly through Moog.

That article mentions the Moog documentary by Hans Fjellestad, which I can't wait to see. Fjellestad also made a documentary called "Frontier Life," about the arts scene on the San Diego--Tijuana axis. Fjellestad's music is sort of a hybrid of jazz, electronica, and modern classical musics. Third Stream, if you will. I play his music a lot on my radio program.
He is affiliated with the Trummerflora Collective of San Diego, which also includes another favorite, Marcelo Radulovich, also George Lewis, Marcos Fernandez, Ellen Weller, Damon Holzborn, and many others. Worth checking out:

http://www.trummerflora.com/about/
8)


Anyway, I'm glad there's somebody else here observing the death of Dr. Moog!
:) :\'(
What an achievement,the synthesizer Dr. Moog created....http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/music/article.adp?id=20050822103409990003&ncid=NWS00010000000001

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: Tom Szakaly on 04/26/09 at 3:40 am

WRONG...!

Actually, Keith did use a IIIC Modular live, for many years- and even BEFORE he had his Mini(s)




ROBERT A. MOOG
1934--2005

R.I.P.
:\'( :\'( :\'(

A sad day for electronic music fans worldwide!

The Yahoo article and most other obits on Moog will mention Wendy Carlos and the pop music artists who adopted the Moog synthesizer.  They probably won't mention that the early Moog from 1968 was quite an immobile and affair, and that the Moog synthesizer used by touring groups such as Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer was actually the Mini-Moog, which didn't arrive on the scene until about 1971.

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: LyricBoy on 04/26/09 at 7:50 am

Wow, this is the end of an era for sure.  I guess Mr. Moog is now playing that big synthesizer in the sky, "Fahren, farhen, fahren auf der Autobahn".  :)

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: whistledog on 04/26/09 at 9:44 am

Wow this is an old thread

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: MrCleveland on 04/26/09 at 10:50 am


Wow this is an old thread


Yep. ::)

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: karen on 05/01/09 at 7:21 pm


Wow this is an old thread


I didn't notice the date of Max's post at first.  And then I spotted that Billy Florio had replied and I was  :o.  He hasn't been around for several years.  That's wen I checked the date

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: whistledog on 05/01/09 at 7:26 pm


I didn't notice the date of Max's post at first.  And then I spotted that Billy Florio had replied and I was  :o.  He hasn't been around for several years.  That's wen I checked the date


I missed the dates as well.  What did it for me was NASCARnNHRARevItUp (the member formerly known as TonyStewartIsTheMan), someone who has not posted in an extremely long time

Subject: Re: Robert Moog, synthesizer inventor, dies at 71

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 05/03/09 at 10:24 pm

Yup, I though Dr. Moog died all over again!

Well...if I gotta be wrong about something, it might as well be Keith Emerson.
:P

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