Robert Moog

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Bob Moog

Dr. Robert A. Moog (born May 23, 1934) is the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

A native of New York City, he earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Queens College, New York, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in engineering physics from Cornell University.

He received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 1970.

The surname Moog is one of the most frequently mispronounced names in popular culture. The following interview excerpt reveals the correct pronunciation:

— Reviewer: First off: Does your name rhyme with "vogue" or is like a cow’s "moo" plus a "G" at the end?
— Dr. Robert Moog: It rhymes with vogue. That is the usual German pronunciation. My father's grandfather came from Marburg, Germany. I like the way that pronunciation sounds better than the way the cow's "moo-g" sounds. [1] (

Moog synthesizer

The Moog synthesizer was one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments.

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The Moog Music logo

Robert Moog created the first modern, realtime playable and reconfigurable music synthesizer in 1963. He demonstrated it the next year at the AES convention, although it sometimes took hours to set up the machine for a new sound. It is believed that the first record to feature a Moog synthesizer was Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac. The first popular music album to feature the instrument was Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees. Wendy Carlos released major Moog albums in 1968 and 1969: Switched-On Bach and The Well-Tempered Synthesizer. The former earned Carlos three Grammys.

Robert Moog employed his theremin company (R. A. Moog Co.) 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 instruments were modular synthesizers. In 1971 Moog broke into the mass market with the Minimoog Model D, an all-in-one instrument. The Minimoog was a 44-key scaled-down version of Moog's custom modular synths and featured 3 oscillators with six selectable waveshapes, an oscillator mixer, a pitch wheel and a modulation wheel. The third oscillator could also function as an LFO (low frequency oscillator). The Minimoog became the "ultimate" monophonic synthesizer during the 1970s.

Another widely used and extremely popular synth of Moog's was the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer. Released in 1975, its pedals were similar in design to organ pedals, but triggered bass synth sounds instead. They were known for their fat bass sound and were used by musicians such as Rush, U2, Yes, The Police, and many others. Production of the original was discontinued in 1981, when it was replaced by the Taurus II.

Eventually, digital synthesizers began to replace their analog counterparts. However, since the mid-1990s the old analog synthesizers have seen a resurgence in popularity. They are now highly sought after and prized for their retro sound. As of 2004, more than 15 companies are making Moog-style synthesizer modules.

In 1972 Moog had changed his company name to Moog Music. It went through various changes of ownership, eventually being bought out by musical instrument manufacturer Norlin. Norlin produced a number of synthesizers under the Moog name, but they were less successful than Moog's own designs. Moog Music closed its doors in 1987.

After leaving his namesake firm, Bob Moog started making electronic musical instruments again, with a new company, Big Briar. Their first specialty was theremins, but by 2000 Big Briar was producing analog effects pedals. Moog managed to buy back the Moog Music name in 2002 and is producing a new version of the Minimoog called the Minimoog Voyager. The Voyager includes all the features of the model D, as well as a variable waveshape controller, dedicated LFO, FM capabilities with oscillator 3, and expansion capabilities via the Moogerfooger effects and the VX-351 Voyager Expander.


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Bob Moog with a theremin

Robert Moog constructed his own theremin as early as 1949. Later he described a theremin in the hobbyist magazine Electronics World and offered a kit of parts for the construction of the Electronic World's Theremin, which became very successful. In the late 1980s Moog repaired the original theremin of Clara Rockmore, an accomplishment which he considers as a high point of his professional career. He also helped to produce her album The Art of the Theremin. In 1996 he published another do-it-yourself theremin guide. Today, Moog Music is the leading manufacturer of performance-quality theremins.

See also

External links

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