Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Moog is dead; long live the Moog

Robert Moog (pr: vogue) died Sunday at age 71. I've never played a Minimoog, the popular keyboard instrument he invented, but I'd like to mess around with one. The Minimoog synthesizer was first popularized in the mid-60s through the Grammy-winning record "Switched on Bach," by Walter Carlos (now Wendy Carlos after a sex-change operation) and has been heard on many rock records since, including the Beatles' "Abbey Road."

My favorite Moog moment is the last few seconds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's epic rock opus "Karn Evil 9" as a basic melody repeats, increasing in speed until it whirls into oblivion. Here is an obituary on Moog.

The best Moog site I discovered is http://moogarchives.com . This site traces Bob Moog's love of the Theremin, a musical instrument played by waving your hands in front of a metal wand (yes, an instrument where you don't touch anything), and how that led to the development of the Minimoog. There's even a film documentary, Moog, released last year.

I have a tape from BBC Radio floating around somewhere, an audio documentary by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman about the Moog. Wakeman's program didn't focus on Robert Moog or his inventions, but rather gives an audio tour of the Minimoog, an amazing instrument that gives unprecedented control over the sound of the instrument.