Thursday, June 25, 2009

When Bob Moog met Raymond Scott



This week MoonTraveller Herald marks the orbit of the Moon of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) which got there, what, aboutentered orbit around the moon the morning of June 23 after a four-and-a-half day journ 40 years after the first humanoids? In honor we run this YouTube clip ''Dedicatory Piece to the Crew and Passengers of the first Experimental Rocket Express to the Moon'' by Raymond Scott courtesy of the folks at SCLOGSE .

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On American Routes radio, there was a very interesting vignette about Raymond Scott, and enthralling related conversation with Bob Moog – maker of the Moog synthesizer.

Scott was a key composer behind some of the looniest Looney Tune music, and a force in electronic music. He had a stint as the orchestra leader for the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, but his very modern sounding music - he was entranced by the sound of the modern, much as one of his influences, Duke Ellington. What I did not know was how much he did in the domain of electronic music. Among other things, he invented the Clavivox. Hear it.

Scott’s family had a radio store of some kind. His brother talked him into music school, because of his great prodigy, but his first interest was engineering.

On the show, Moog described going to Scott’s house in one of the boroughs. It had an elaborate basement with rooms for woodworking, for metal work, for electronics work. All kinds of tools. Mad scientist stuff. Moog was young. His recollection is soldered.

Moog was there with his father. The Moogs went out to meet Scott to discuss building a Theremin variation that was a bit more like a traditional musical instrument in terms of human-machine interface. This Thereming variation led to the Clavivox, which I'd never heard of, but which I think most of us heard at some point [Think: "StarTrek".]

"The floors were spotless..there was nothing I could compare it with at that time." Moog ddsaid, echoing an oft heard Orphian paean. Scott had a way to get to the broad public - did Ford commercials! - but he also had a very protective, secretive [mad scientist] streak. For so many, his Looney Tune bits were an intro to so much. He had his issues…protective, as people involved with copyrights and patents could become. He fired Anita Day for scatting rather than singing the lyrics. "He saw musicians as mechanical devices to transfer his ideas into sound." says one intoner on the American Routes episode. His later days were about working with machines; but, in Bob Moog's take, it was about working with the future.

Related
http://raymondscott.com/Clavivox.html
American ROutes episode
http://www.raymondscott.com/moog.html
http://raymondscott.com/Clavivox.mp3

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