My Keyboard Lessons Look Back At Robert Moog – Synth Pioneer.
Ther we take a look back at the career of synth pioneer Bob Moog. Robert Moog was a great man. One of our heros, and to us he is an absolute legend. Here we go through the times, places and artists when the synthesizer was invented, and what took place, also little interesting things from Moog, such as he said he could “feel” what’s going on inside electronic equipment(or something along those lines). Of course covers the man who revolutionized the synthesizer, who is a beautiful person IMHO. You can feel it in his voice alone.
Ever since rock bands began to embrace instrumentation outside of the traditional spectrum of guitars, bass and drums in the mid-1960s, Moog has been a name synonymous with electro-infused music the world over. A brand as iconic as it is innovative, Moog instruments have featured frequently on some of the most influential albums of all time and continue to be utilised by pioneering artists from all four corners of the globe. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and Stevie Wonder were just a few early adopters of Moog instruments, while legendary film director Stanley Kubrick also put one of the firm’s synthesizers to work on his 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange.
Over the ensuing decades, groundbreaking new products were brought to market, finding favour with a multitude of musicians across a diverse array of genres.
Of course, the brand’s growing prominence amongst high-profile performers played no small part in establishing it as a name of some repute, yet it was the entrepreneurial spirit of its visionary founder, Bob Moog, that was ultimately responsible for transforming the business from a home-based operation into the world-renowned name it is today.
In the early 1950s, Bob Moog and his father began building homemade Theremin kits and selling them via mail order. After graduating from Queens College with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957, the budding engineer went on to complete a Ph.D. in engineering physics at Cornell a few years later.
Capitalising on funds generated from his Theremin sales, Moog began work on a number of electronic musical instruments, among them, the first ever Moog Modular synthesizer in 1963, which was demonstrated before an international audience the following year at the 1964 AES convention. The synth was the first of its kind to feature a piano-style keyboard as a controller.
Following on from the original models released in the 1960s, 1971 saw the launch of the Minimoog Model D. One of the first synthesizers to be made widely available to consumers, the unit had been designed to offer users a more portable and affordable product.
The same year also saw the company undergo its first name change, dropping the RA Moog name to become Moog/Musonics. Just a year later, the company rebranded once again to become, simply, Moog Music.
Between 1973 and 1975, the company expanded its product portfolio significantly with the introduction of several new lines, including the Moog System 15, 35, and 55 patchable synthesizers, Sonic Six, Satellite preset synthesizer, Taurus Bass Pedals, Moog’s first polyphonic synthesizer, the Polymoog, and Moog synthesizer accessories – the 1125 Sample & Hold, 1150 Ribbon Controller, 1121 Footswitch, 1130 Percussion Controller, and 1120 Foot Pedal Controller.
During this period, the company was bought out by musical instrument manufacturer Norlin Music. However, citing poor management from the new owners, Bob Moog eventually parted ways with the firm in 1977. The brand still operated under the name Moog Music, continuing to bring a variety of new instruments and accessories to market.
The decade began with Moog Music’s launch of the Moog Rogue and Source – a microprocessor-controlled programmable monosynth. It also ceased production of the Minimoog synthesizer after a run of more than 12,000 units.
Meanwhile, in 1983 Norlin Music sold Moog Music to David Luce and F. Scott Chapman, who divided the company into two different divisions – Moog Music and Moog Electronics. The firm again changed hands later that decade, with RJE Research Corp purchasing Moog Music, along with the assets of Moog Electronics.
Away from Moog Music, after taking a break from manufacturing, Moog teamed up with Italian brand Crumar in 1982 to co-develop the Spirit analogue monosynth, before joining Kurzweil Music Systems in 1984, where he served as vice president of new product research for five years until 1989.
In a move that harked back to his roots, he designed the Series 91 Theremin in 1991, which was produced by his new company Big Briar. He also developed the Etherwave Theremin, a model that is still sold to this day in both build-it-yourself kits and assembled forms. In 1998 Moog designed the Ethervox MIDI Theremin, incorporating MIDI software.
As the decade drew to a close, Moog began developing the Minimoog Voyager, with the product appearing as a prototype at the January NAMM show in 2000.
Following its debut appearance at the ‘00 Winter NAMM exhibition, the Minimoog Voyager began shipping in ’02. That same year, Moog reclaimed the legal rights to use his own name on musical products. As a result, he immediately changed the name of Big Briar to Moog Music.
With Moog once again releasing products under his own name, a series of Moog Voyager units were produced between ’02 and ‘05, including the Performer Edition, Anniversary Edition and Rack Mount Edition. A documentary was also released in 2004, celebrating the work of Moog and the evolution of the brand throughout his career.
On August 21st 2005, Moog sadly passed away after being diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier that year. Twelve months after his death, The Bob Moog Foundation was formed with the intention of igniting ‘creativity at the intersection of music, science and innovation’.
It goes without saying that Bob Moog has left an indelible print on the musical landscape. That his work is held in such regard by inventors, engineers and musicians the world over is a fitting tribute to the impact he has made on the MI industry. With fans still taking inspiration from his creations, the work of Bob Moog will no doubt continue to influence generations for years to come.