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Celebrating The Moog Synthesizer: A History Of Innovation

Posted on May 7, 2014 by Eric There have been 0 comments

Few people have made as great an impact on music the way that Dr. Robert Moog has. Through his creative innovations, beginning with the Moog Synthesizer, the history of music has seen great change. In honor of what would have been his 80th birthday this May, we're taking a look at the Moog Synthesizer’s history and the life of Dr. Bob himself.

The sonic evolution of Dr. Bob begins with the creation of his first modulation device in 1964. As one of the first instruments to use voltage-control to command sound, Moog and his co-conspirator Herb Deutsch apply for a patent in the same year of invention. While waiting for his patent, Moog builds unique instruments for artists like John Gage and The Beach Boys.

Hear the Moog Ribbon Controller on Beach Boys "Good Vibrations":

The Moog synthesizer finally makes its debut in 1967, in addition to a recording made by Moog and Wendy Carlos that explains how to use the machine. Carlos' work with the Moog would be prolific throughout her career, including the classic 1968 album, Switched On Bach.

Listen to the Dr. Bob Moog and Wendy Carlos demonstration record entitled Moog 900 Series Electronic Music Systems:

With the musicians of the 60s looking to expand upon the sounds of yesteryear, the need for innovation was intense. Popular artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones began integrating the Moog into their work, and there was a need for a more attainable model for average musicians/studios. Hence, the birth of the Minimoog in 1970.

Sample Autobahn by Kraftwerk, an important example of musicians using the Minimoog:

While the history of the Moog Synthesizer continues to develop, Dr. Bob eventually sells his company and exits to Asheville, North Carolina. Creating a new company, Big Briar, Moog spends most of his time building custom instruments for musician and recording technician friends. Despite the split from his own company, Big Briar would attain the rights to Moog products in 2001.

Generation after generation continue to discover the rich history of the Moog Synthesizer, especially with the creation of newer models like the Minimoog Voyager, MinitaurSub Phatty and Slim Phatty. Dr Bob Moog, who sadly passed away in August 2005, still lives on through his instruments, The Bob Moog Foundation and an annual festival called Moog Fest.

Bonus: Check out Dr. Bob Moog giving a demo of the Minimoog from a 1980 BBC documentary about electronic music.

Photo Credit: The Bob Moog Foundation

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