Robert Arthur Moog
May 23, 1934
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||August 21, 2005 71) (aged|
|Alma mater|| Bronx High School of Science |
|Occupation||Electronic music pioneer, engineer, inventor of Moog synthesizer Entrepreneur|
|Spouse(s)||Shirleigh Moog (m. 1958, div. 1994; three daughters, one son) |
Ileana Grams (m. 1996, his death 2005)
|Relatives|| Florence Moog (aunt)|
Bill Moog (cousin, founder of Moog Inc.)
Robert Arthur Moog ( // MOHG; May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005) was an American engineering physicist and pioneer of electronic music. He was the founder of Moog Music and the inventor of the first commercial synthesizer, the Moog synthesizer, debuted in 1964. This was followed in 1970 by a more portable model, the Minimoog, described as the most famous and influential synthesizer in history.
Moog created fundamental synthesizer concepts such as the pitch wheel, modularity, envelope generation, and voltage control. He is credited for helping bring synthesizers to a wider audience and influencing the development of popular music. His only patent was on his filter design; commentators have speculated that he would have become extremely wealthy had he patented his other innovations, but that their availability in the public domain helped the synthesizer industry flourish.
In 1971, Moog sold Moog Music to Norlin Musical Instruments, where he remained as a designer until 1977. In 1978, he founded the company Big Briar, and in 2002 renamed it Moog Music after buying back the rights to the name. In later years, Moog taught at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and worked on designs for further instruments.
Robert Moog was born in New York City on May 23, 1934, and grew up in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens.He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1952.
As a boy, Moog's parents forced him to study the harp, but he preferred his time in the workroom of his father, a Consolidated Edison engineer.He became fascinated by the theremin, an electronic instrument controlled by moving the hands over radio antennae. In 1949, aged 14, he built a theremin from plans printed in Electronics World .
Moog completed a B.S. in physics from Queens College and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Columbia University before earning a Ph.D. in engineering physics from Cornell University in 1965.
In 1953, Moog produced his own theremin design, and the following year he published an article on the theremin in Radio and Television News. In the same year, he founded RA Moog, selling theremins and theremin kits by mail order from his home as he completed his education.One of his customers, Raymond Scott, rewired Moog's theremin for control by keyboard, creating the Clavivox.
At Cornell, Moog began work on his first synthesizer modules with composer Herb Deutsch.At the time, synthesizers were enormous, room-filling instruments; Moog hoped to build a more compact synthesizer that would appeal to musicians. He believed that practicality and affordability were the most important parameters.
In 1964, Moog began creating the Moog synthesizer.The synthesizer was composed of separate modules which created and shaped sounds, connected by patch cords. One innovative feature was its envelope, which controlled how notes swell and fade. Moog debuted the instrument at the 1964 Audio Engineering Society convention in New York. It was much smaller than other synthesizers, such as the RCA Synthesizer introduced a decade earlier, and much cheaper, at $10,000USD compared to the six-figure sums of other synthesizers. Whereas the RCA Synthesizer was programmed with punchcards, Moog's synthesizer could be played via keyboard, making it attractive to musicians. New Scientist described it as the first commercial synthesizer.
Moog's development was driven by requests and suggestions from various musicians, including Richard Teitelbaum, Herbert Deutsch (who devised the instrument's keyboard interface), Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Wendy Carlos.His other early customers included choreographer Alwin Nikolais and composer John Cage. Moog described himself as a toolmaker, designing things for his users, not himself. Universities established electronic music laboratories with Moog synthesizers. The synthesizer was followed in 1970 by a more portable model, the Minimoog, described as the most famous and influential synthesizer in history.
Though commentators have praised Moog's engineering abilities, they described him as a poor businessman.He only patented his filter design; David Borden, one of the first users of the Minimoog, felt that if Moog had patented his pitch wheel design he would have become extremely wealthy. According to Sound on Sound , if Moog had created a monopoly on other synthesizer ideas he created, such as modularity, envelope generation, and voltage control, "it's likely the synth industry as we know it today would never have happened".
Beginning in 1971, Moog Music took on investors, merged with Norlin Musical Instruments, and moved to "less than ideal" premises in Buffalo, New York amid a debilitating recession.Moog remained employed as a designer at the company until 1977. He said he would have left earlier if his contract had not required him to remain employed there for four years to cash his stock. By the end of the decade, Moog Music was facing competition from cheaper, easier-to-use instruments by competitors including Arp, Aries, Roland and E-mu.
In 1978, Moog moved to North Carolina and founded a new electronic instrument company, Big Briar.He also worked as a consultant and vice president for new product research at Kurzweil Music Systems from 1984 to 1988. In the early 1990s, he was a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. In 2002, he renamed Big Briar to Moog Music after buying back the rights to the name. In later years, he continued to design electronic instruments, including a touchscreen-operated piano.
Moog was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor on April 28, 2005. He died on August 21, 2005 at the age of 71 in Asheville, North Carolina.
Moog's first marriage, to Shirleigh Moog, ended in divorce in 1994. He was survived by his second wife, Ileana, four children, one stepdaughter, and five grandchildren.
Moog has had a lasting influence on music. The BBC describes him as a pioneer of synthesized sound.According to the Guardian , his inventions "changed the complexion of the pop and classical music worlds". Moog's name became so associated with electronic music that it was sometimes used as a generic term for any synthesizer. In 2004, Moog was the subject of Moog , a documentary by Hans Fjellestad, who said in 2004 that Moog "embodies the archetypal American maverick inventor".
Moog's awards include honorary doctorates from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (New York City), Lycoming College (Williamsport, Pennsylvania), and Berklee College of Music.Moog received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970. He received the Polar Music Prize in 2001 and a Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award in 2002. In 2013, Moog was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2012, to celebrate Moog's birthday, Google created an interactive version of the Minimoog as its Google Doodle.
On July 18, 2013, Moog's widow Ileana Grams-Moog said she planned to give her husband's archives, maintained by the Bob Moog Foundation, to Cornell University. The foundation offered her $100,000, but Grams-Moog said she would not sell them. She said Cornell could provide better access for researchers, and that the foundation had not made enough progress toward a planned museum to be worthy of keeping the collection. The foundation responded that it had sufficiently preserved the collection and made efforts to improve storage, though it could not yet afford to build the museum.
In August 2019, the Bob Moog Foundation opened the Moogseum, a museum dedicated to Moog's work, in Asheville, North Carolina. The displays include rare theremins, prototype synthesizer modules, and Moog's documents.
An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power amplifier which drives a loudspeaker, creating the sound heard by the performer and listener.
Leon Theremin was a Russian and Soviet inventor, most famous for his invention of the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments and the first to be mass-produced. He also worked on early television research. His listening device, "The Thing", hung for seven years in plain view in the United States Ambassador's Moscow office and enabled Soviet agents to eavesdrop on secret conversations.
The theremin is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after its inventor, Leon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.
An analogsynthesizer is a synthesizer that uses analog circuits and analog signals to generate sound electronically.
The Minimoog is an analog synthesizer first manufactured by Moog Music between 1970 and 1981. Designed as a more affordable, portable version of the modular Moog synthesizer, it was the first synthesizer sold in retail stores. It was first popular with progressive rock and jazz musicians and found wide use in disco, pop, rock and electronic music.
ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Robert Pearlman in 1969. It created a popular and commercially successful range of synthesizers throughout the 1970s before declaring bankruptcy in 1981. The company earned a reputation for producing excellent sounding, innovative instruments and was granted several patents for the technology it developed.
Clara Reisenberg Rockmore was a Lithuanian classical violin prodigy and a virtuoso performer of the theremin, an electronic musical instrument. She was the sister of pianist Nadia Reisenberg.
Moog Music Inc. is an American company based in Asheville, North Carolina, which manufactures electronic musical instruments. It was founded in 1953 as R. A. Moog Co. by Robert Moog and his father and was renamed Moog Music in 1972. Its early instruments included various Moog modular synthesizer systems, including the world's first commercial synthesizer, followed by the launch of the Minimoog in 1970, which became one of the most coveted and influential electronic instruments of all time.
The Moog synthesizer is a modular synthesizer developed by the American engineer Robert Moog. Moog debuted it in 1964, and Moog's company R. A. Moog Co. produced numerous models from 1965 to 1980. It was the first commercial synthesizer, and is credited with creating the analog synthesizer as it is known today.
Brian Kehew is an American, Los Angeles-based, musician and record producer. He is a member of The Moog Cookbook and co-author of the Recording The Beatles book, an in-depth look at the Beatles' studio approach.
The Bob Moog Memorial Foundation was created after the death of Dr. Robert Moog in 2005, and officially launched in August, 2006. His family established the foundation to honor the legacy of Moog "through its mission of igniting creativity at the intersection of music, history, science, and innovation." The foundation is an independent, donor-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with no formal affiliations with Moog Music, Inc.. The foundation is located in Asheville, N.C., where Moog spent the last 25 years of his life.
The Memorymoog is a polyphonic electronic music synthesizer manufactured by Moog Music from 1982 to 1985, the last polyphonic synthesizer to be released by Moog Music before the company declared bankruptcy in 1987. While comparable to other polyphonic synthesizers of the time period, such as the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and Oberheim OB-Xa, the Memorymoog distinguished itself with 3 audio oscillators per voice and greater preset storage capacity.
Moog is a 2004 documentary film by Hans Fjellestad about electronic instrument pioneer Dr. Robert Moog. The film features scenes of Dr. Moog interacting with various musical artists who view Moog as an influential figure in the history of electronic music.
Donald Buchla was an American pioneer in the field of sound synthesis. Buchla popularized the "West Coast" style of synthesis. He was co-inventor of the voltage controlled modular synthesizer along with Robert Moog, the two working independently in the early 1960s.
The Minimoog Voyager or Voyager is a monophonic analog synthesizer, designed by Robert Moog and released in 2002 by Moog Music. The Voyager was modeled after the classic Minimoog synthesizer that was popular in the 1970s, and is meant to be a successor to that instrument.
Walter Edmond Sear was an American recording engineer, musician, instrument importer and designer, inventor, composer and film producer. He was considered a pioneer in the use of the synthesizer and an expert on vintage recording equipment. Sear ran the Sear Sound recording studio ; known for its vast collection of vintage analog recording equipment and patronized by artists including Steely Dan, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, Paul McCartney and Patti Smith.
A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers generate audio through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, and frequency modulation synthesis. These sounds may be shaped and modulated by components such as filters, envelopes, and low-frequency oscillators. Synthesizers are typically played with keyboards or controlled by sequencers, software, or other instruments, often via MIDI.
Herbert A. Deutsch is an American composer, inventor, and educator. Currently professor emeritus of electronic music and composition at Hofstra University, he is best known for co-inventing the Moog Synthesizer with Bob Moog in 1964.
Moogfest is a music and technology festival held annually or bi-annually in Durham, North Carolina that honors Robert Moog and his musical inventions, celebrating his legacy as a sonic pioneer.
Albert Glinsky is an American composer and author. His music has been performed internationally by soloists, ensembles, and dance companies. His book, Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage won the 2001 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, and is regarded as the standard work on the life of Leon Theremin. In 2009 Glinsky was invited by the family of synthesizer pioneer, Bob Moog, to create Moog's authorized biography, a project currently in progress.
In honor of what would've been Robert Moog's 78th birthday, the Bronx High School of Science started its day with a tribute to the 1952 alumnus who began pioneering the synthesizer in high school.
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