Synth history: 'Fifty Years Of The Moog'

[Wikimedia Commons]

[Wikimedia Commons]

There's a wonderful feature by Robert Barry over at the Quietus on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Bob Moog's first modular synthesizer. Moog turns 80 today.

Barry explores the history of his revolutionary first electronic instrument, and discusses its legacy with Bernie Krause and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp. Snip:

[Compposer and music professor Herb] Deutsch invited Moog to a concert he was giving in the Greenwich Village loft of the artist Jason Seley, a sculptor who would end up as dean of Moog's old alma mater, Cornell. This took place in January 1964. Downtown New York. Yoko Ono and La Monte Young had recently presented their concert series in her Chambers Street loft. Fluxus was happening. Jonas and Adolphos Mekas had set up the Film-Makers Co-op at the Bleecker Street Cinema. Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor were doing gigs in people's apartments. Yvonne Rainer and others had opened the Judson Dance Theater in a Greenwich Village church. Artists like Walter De Maria and Donald Judd were exhibiting works made of industrial materials like concrete, steel, plywood, and aluminium in co-operatively run galleries in the blocks between Houston and 10th Street. Moog stepped into the midst of all of this and it blew his mind.

In Seley's loft, the engineer saw a work composed by Deutsch for electronically-manipulated percussion sounds recorded on tape, accompanied by a live percussionist striking one of the host's seven-foot sculptures made of car bumpers. To Moog this was "absolutely the most exciting musical performance I had ever seen up until then". As soon as it was over Deutsch and Moog started talking about the possibility of building a "portable electronic music studio".

"What do you want to be able to do, Herb?" said Bob.

"Well," Herb replied, "I want to make these sounds that go wooo-wooo-ah-woo-woo."

And here's a birthday playlist for Moog.

The Stradivarius of the Synthesizer: Remembering the Moog by Monster Bobby on Mixcloud