Sunday, February 12, 2012

Moog: The Movie

Not long before his passing, Moog synthesizer co-inventor Robert Moog appeared in a documentary. ''Moog'' (2004) shows him as a really nice guy, sort of an old 60s guy in a way, who raises his own vegetables, lectures, and journeys the world to visit some of the illuminant exemplars (Herb Deutsch, Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and others) of the original synthesizer era he forged.

A native New Yorker, Moog began building and selling Theremin kits in high school - the Theremin became ''a thread'' in his life story - before heading out for a degree in electrical engineering at Columbia. In the 60s he came up with the synthesizer, in the process creating a ton of phase-lock loops, voltage controlled oscillators and other groundbreaking musical circuits. The film doesn’t dwell on these parts, but there is a lot of good, gorpy and greasy feedback sound scattered in the plot.

He recalls the fear of the electronic sound that was rampant in some circles back in the 60s. The electronic sound, knock on wood, was alien and scary. It worked in commercials, however.

Moog’s modus recalls Ed Sanders who saw the potential for the 60s and 70s electronic synthesizers to naturally extend human poetic expression. ''Why do you feel as one with your musical instrument?'' he asks Socratic-ly at one point in ''Moog.'' Sanders similar to Moog to in his emphasis on performance. Robert Moog’s quest was not about shacking up in a recording studio with electronics. It wsa about people creating music that people would hear in performance. - Jack Vaughan

Shown at top is a Filatron Moog simulator running on iPod. Click to be able to hear samples thereof.

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