Sounding Circle: Synthesizer Innovator Robert A. Moog Dies

 Synthesizer Innovator Robert A. Moog Dies1 comment
23 Aug 2005 @ 05:12, by Raymond Powers

Bob Moog, thnak you for all the creative tools you have given me. My adventures with sound and music were made possble through your genius and innovation.

Synthesizer Innovator Robert A. Moog Dies

Associated Press Writer
Mon Aug 22, 6:03 PM ET

He may not have been a rock star himself, but Robert A. Moog's influence can be heard in the music of bands from The Beatles to Yes, Herbie Hancock to Chick Corea.

Moog, whose self-named synthesizers turned electric currents into sound and helped revolutionize rock, died Sunday of a brain tumor at his home in Asheville, according to his company's Web site. He was 71.

"He brought electronic music to the masses and changed the way we hear music," said Charles Carlini, a New York City concert promoter. "He's like an Einstein of music."

Moog's synthesizer allowed musicians to generate a range of sounds that could mimic nature or seem otherworldly by flipping a switch, twisting a dial or sliding a knob. His instrument stood out from others on the market because it was small, light and versatile.

"I'm an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers," Moog said in 2000. "They use my tools."

The Beatles used a Moog synthesizer on their 1969 album "Abbey Road"; a Moog was used to create an eerie sound on the soundtrack to the 1971 film "A Clockwork Orange."

A childhood interest in the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, would lead Moog — whose name rhymes with vogue — to create a business that tied his name as tightly to synthesizers as the name Les Paul is to electric guitars.

As a Ph.D. student in engineering physics at Cornell University, Moog developed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer modules with composer Herb Deutsch. By the end of the year, R.A. Moog Co. marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer.

"Suddenly, there was a whole group of people in the world looking for a new sound in music, and it picked up very quickly," said Deutsch, a Hofstra University emeritus music professor. "The Moog came at the right time."

As extended keyboard solos in rock and funk — and later hip-hop and techno — took off, Moog's instrument was used in songs by Manfred Mann, Yes and Pink Floyd.

"The sound defined progressive music as we know it," said Keith Emerson, keyboardist for the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Keyboardist Walter (later Wendy) Carlos demonstrated the range of Moog's synthesizer by recording the hit album "Switched-On Bach" in 1968 using only the new instrument instead of an orchestra.

"Every time you listen to the radio, you listen to Robert Moog's influence," said Carlini, who staged Moogfest in May 2004 to mark a half-century since Moog founded his first company.

But the synthesizer's ability to mimic strings, horns and percussion has also threatened some musicians. In 2004, musicians extracted a promise from the Opera Company of Brooklyn to never use an advanced kind of synthesizer, called a virtual orchestra machine, in future productions.

Moog spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville before turning full-time to running his new instrument business, which was renamed Moog Music in 2002. The roster of customers includes Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Beck, Phish, Sonic Youth and Widespread Panic.

Moog is survived by his wife, Ileana; three daughters, a son, a stepdaughter, and his former wife, Shirleigh Moog.

A public memorial is scheduled for Wednesday in Asheville.

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1 comment

24 Aug 2005 @ 20:09 by jstarrs : And don't say 'Moo-g'

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