Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dr. Robert Arthur Moog

Moog Innovator Dies at 71
Inventor created synthesizers that fueled electronica movement

Jessica Robertson @ Rolling Stone
Robert A. Moog, whose self-named synthesizers opened the door for the musical evolution of electronica, died yesterday at his home in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of seventy-one. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in April and had undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Moog developed a childhood interest in the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, after building them with his father. In 1963, he developed the Moog Modular Synthesizer as a Ph.D student in engineering physics at Cornell University. By the end of 1964, R.A. Moog Co. introduced the first commercial modular synthesizer.

Moog received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970, and was the subject of last year's documentary, Moog, directed by Hans Fjellestad. His synthesizer has influenced bands ranging from the Beatles, Yes, Parliament/Funkadelic, the Monkees, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Stereolab.

His family has established the Bob Moog Foundation dedicated to the Advancement of Electronic Music in his memory, and a public memorial is planned for later this week at Asheville's Orange Peel. Moog is survived by his wife, Ileana, and five children. =>>>>>>>>>>>

@ Wiki
Dr. Robert Arthur Moog (pronounced /moʊg/ as in 'moan') (May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005) was a pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

A native of New York City, Robert Moog attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduating in 1952. Moog earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Queens College, New York in 1957, another in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in engineering physics from Cornell University.

Moog received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970. In 2002, Moog was honored with a Grammy Tech Award, and an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music.

During his lifetime, Moog founded two companies for manufacturing electronic musical instruments. Moog also worked as a consultant and vice president for new product research at Kurzweil Music Systems from 1984 to 1988. He spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

He gave an enthusiastically-received lecture at the 2004 New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME-04), held in Hamamatsu, Japan's "City of Musical Instruments", in June, 2004. Moog was the inspiration behind the 2005 film Moog.

Moog's first wife was Shirleigh Moog (née Shirley May Leigh) a grammar school teacher whom he married in 1958. The couple had 3 daughters (Laura Moog Lanier, Michelle Moog-Koussa, Renee Moog) and one son (Matthew Moog) before their divorce. Moog was married to his second wife Ileana Grams, a philosophy professor, for nine years until his death. Moog's stepdaughter, Miranda Richmond, is Grams' daughter from a previous marriage. Moog also had five grandchildren.

Robert Moog was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor on April 28, 2005. Nearly four months later, Moog died at the age of 71 in Asheville, North Carolina on August 21. The Bob Moog Foundation was created as a memorial, with the aim of continuing his life's work of developing electronic music.

Development of the Moog synthesizer
The Moog synthesizer was one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments. Early developmental work on the components of the synthesizer occurred at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, now the Computer Music Center. While there, Moog developed the voltage controlled oscillators, ADSR envelope generators, and other synthesizer modules with composer Herbert Deutsch.

Moog created the first subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller and demonstrated it at the AES convention in 1964. In 1966, Moog patented his unique low-pass filter, the only synthesizer module he ever patented.

Robert Moog employed his theremin company (R. A. Moog Co., which would later become Moog Music) to manufacture and market his synthesizers. Unlike the few other 1960s synthesizer manufacturers, Moog shipped a piano-style keyboard as the standard user interface to his synthesizers. Moog also established standards for analog synthesizer control interfacing, with a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signal.

The first Moog instruments were modular synthesizers. 1971 Moog Music began production of the Minimoog Model D which was among the first widely available, portable and relatively affordable synthesizers.

One of Moog's earliest musical customers was Wendy Carlos whom he credits with providing feedback that was valuable to the further development of Moog synthesizers. Through his involvement in electronic music, Moog developed close professional relationships with artists such as Don Buchla, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, John Cage, Gershon Kingsley, Clara Rockmore, and Pamelia Kurstin. In a 2000 interview, Moog said "I'm an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers. They use my tools." =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Interview With Robert Moog
Conducted by J. Munnshe for Amazing Sounds (1998)
By the mid sixties, in the USA, Robert Moog, an electronic engineer who had a musical background, built the first voltage-controlled synthesizer. At once he awoke the interest of the scientific community with this. As well as that of the musical community.

It did not take long for Moog to get orders from musicians who felt the need to do new things. He built costumized units for each one of them. Some of his first customers were Wendy Carlos, Eric Siday, and Keith Emerson. Carlos utilized the synthesizer to perform in a masterly way the Brandenbourg Concerts by J.S. Bach, thus proving that electronic instruments were no worthless gizmos to produce sonic special effects for rays shot by Martian invaders, but they could really be musical instruments of their own right, with a warmth and an expressiveness capable of competing with those typical of acoustic instruments. Siday recorded with the synthesizer musical pieces for advertisements, thus taking the first step towards the nowadays widely trodden path of electronic music for television. Emerson utilized for the first time the synthesizer at a live performance, thus proving that it was not a laboratory machine, but an instrument with all its qualities, which allowed for live performances to take place.

What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about your recent activities and your projects for the near future?

"Big Briar's latest development is our Ethervox MIDI Theremin. We're starting to make and ship them now, but we still have a lot of work to do by way of taking care of the many final engineering details".

"Our next big project is to design a new version of the classic Minimoog. We will be introducing this instrument next summer. It will have all the great sound and function of the classic Minimoog Model D (the instrument that my old company made from 1970 to 1982), plus a few new features that musicians have been asking for. This new instrument of ours will have the MOOG trademark". =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Remembering Bob Moog

@ Keith Emerson
Last year at the Moog Fest in New York to celebrate the great man's creation, Bob found a quiet corner in my dressing room. He sat munching an apple while watching me warm up on a practice keyboard that was turned around with the keys facing away. I had to lean over the instrument in order to play it in such an irregular and awkward position. Bob sat observing what was so obviously an impractical exercise without saying a word. Finally he said, "Do you always practice like that?" Without thinking I replied that I did. This answer didn't seem to phase him one bit. He didn't ask any further questions on the subject maybe because he'd got an answer that he expected. It led me to thinking that that's the way he worked.

Being at one with his creation, he might have expected it to work for him. But it was a completely different thing to find musicians great or small, all over the world, using his invention to greater effect. I think he was often overwhelmed by that fact. And what about the theremin? A box with a couple of aerials that could frighten anyone of a nervous disposition when waving one's hands around it! It could play the notes that were between all the other notes!! I mention all this because Bob seemed unwavered faced by either a tough road or an easy one. He'd trod most of them with "Amazing Grace" and humor! He had a great loud uninhibited laugh that always made me feel comfortable. It made itself very audible when I first met him in London in 1970. It was well known then that the Heathrow baggage handlers (not being avid gardeners) treated suitcases with the same respect as a sack of cow shit. Having successfully retrieved his luggage it therefore amused him greatly to notice that left, going round and round on the conveyer belt, was just a handle with the baggage tag still attached...and somebody actually claiming it without complaining.

I was very excited when Bob attended an early 70's ELP concert for the first time and had him sit on stage and out of view of the audience behind my speakers. This is a story that Bob loved to tell:

"...Keith had invited me to come wherever backstage was. He and I piled into his mandatory limousine and we went through the mud, rocks and broken glass-which is what you expect to find underneath the tracks of a New York City Subway train-onto a soccer field. He got out with the rest of the group and they walked onto the field up to this wooden platform stage out by one goal. At the end of the field, there was a line of ten or twelve portajohns. There were about 10,000 young males packed in there. I don't remember any seats; people were just trampling on the soccer field. That's where I saw Keith do his number with the organ and knives, with pieces of keys flying off. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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@ Synth Museum
While getting his doctorate in physics at Cornell University in 1963, Robert A. Moog (By the way "Moog" is pronounced with a long "o" sound like Rogue or Vogue, not like Fugue) earned money by selling do-it-yourself transistorized theremins. One of Moog's thereminists was Herbert Deutsch, a composer. Moog and Deutsch met in 1963 at a conference. This led to conversation about the need for new electronic instruments. In 1964, they spent weeks trying electronic circuitry. Moog had his very first prototype built in August 1964

    "All through the amplifier project, I was making theremins on a custom basis. I'd been doing that since I was 19 -- it was a hobby, the output of which I could sell. My New York rep. Waiter Sear -- these days [approx. 1992] Waiter makes Grade Z movies, but before he made Grade Z movies he made porno movies, and before he made porno movies he sold tubas and my theremins -- invited me to come help him show theremins to school teachers at the New York State School Music Association convention, at the Concord Hotel. That was where I met Herb Deutsch.

    "What I knew about electronic music at the end of'63 was some vague knowledge that yes, at Columbia University there were some people who had something called the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and yes, they gave concerts once in a while, and yes, I should probably find out more. Herb was a music instructor at Hofstra who was doing his own experimental tape camposition."

    "Herb and I kept in touch. More or less in my spare time I built two voltage-controlled oscillators and two voltage-controlled amplifiers, and some kind of controller that could turn the sounds on and off and change the pitch and the rates of modulation. It might have been a couple of doorbells. When Herb came up with his family -- he parked them at a cabin in the state park while we worked for three weeks -- he just flipped when he heard what my breadboards could do. By the end of that session and the one that followed, together we had come up with the basics of a modular analog synthesizer.

    "Mind you, neither of us had any idea where this was leading." ----Bob Moog* =>>>>>>>>>>>

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