Clara Rock­more (March 9, 1911 – May 10, 1998) was a pio­neer in elec­tronic music. Her artistry and tech­nique on the theremin put her in the same league as some of the other leg­endary women instru­men­tal­ists of 20th cen­tury — musi­cians like pianist Dame Myra Hess, the great Pol­ish harp­si­chordist Wanda Landowska.

From a very early age, Clara was an accom­plished young vio­lin­ist but as it turned out, she even­tu­ally had to aban­don the instru­ment because of chronic phys­i­cal dif­fi­cul­ties due to child­hood mal­nu­tri­tion and she took up the theremin. Later in her life she said that Leon Theremin saved her “musi­cal san­ity” by intro­duc­ing her to the theremin. She had extremely pre­cise, rapid con­trol of her move­ments, impor­tant in play­ing an instru­ment that depends on the performer’s motion and prox­im­ity rather than touch. She also had the advan­tage of work­ing directly with Léon Theremin from the early days of the instrument’s com­mer­cial devel­op­ment in the United States.

It is easy to under­stand why Leon Theremin, the inven­tor of the instru­ment that bears his name, was deeply in love with Clara. Apart from being bril­liantly tal­ented as a musi­cian and therem­i­nist, she was strik­ingly beautiful.

Clara Rock­more died in the spring of 1998 leav­ing a small but impor­tant legacy of her record­ings which include The Art of Theremin (pro­duced by Robert Moog in 1977) and a stun­ning, live, 1945 per­for­mance of the Con­certo for Theremin and Orches­tra by the Amer­i­can com­poser Anis Fulei­han (with the orches­tra under the direc­tion of the great Leopold Stokowski). Both these record­ings have been reis­sued on CD.

Robert Moog, 35, who designed the best known of the electronic musical synthesizers, makes final adjustment on the Moog Synthesizer prior to a jazz concert at Museum of Modern Art, Aug. 28, 1969, New York. Two quartets played four Moogs during the hour and a half long concert in the Museums open air sculpture garden. Some 4,000 persons attended the concert.

- photo by John Lent


Anthony Stramaglia brought along a Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument (or CMI).  Keep in mind that these are very hard to find in as complete condition as the one seen here. 

But then it gets better: this is Fairlight CMI serial number 25, formerly owned by the legendary Robert Moog.  I will say that again, this was Dr. Robert Moog’s Fairlight CMI.

It sounded amazing – and the sound was so dynamic.  The amount of configurations that this machine was capable of was astounding!  Throughout the weekend, various classic synth tunes could be heard belted out across the floor, and they sounded even more wonderful in person than on recordings.  It was a thing of beauty to behold for both the eyes and the ears.  The one that is stuck in my head was a rendition of Subdivisions by Rush

Robert Arthur “Bob” Moog (/ˈmɡ/ mohg; May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005), founder of Moog Music, was an American pioneer ofelectronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

Moog’s innovative electronic design is employed in numerous synthesizers including the Minimoog Model D, Minimoog VoyagerLittle PhattyMoog Taurus Bass PedalsMoog Minitaur, and the Moogerfooger line of effects pedals.

Some of the first rock recordings to feature the Moog synthesizer included the Diana Ross & the Supremes single, “Reflections” (released July 1967) and prominently throughout albums of the Summer of Love era such as on Strange Days by The Doors (released September 1967)[15]Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd. by The MonkeesCosmic Sounds by The Zodiac, [16] (the latter two both released November 1967),Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones (released December 1967), The Notorious Byrd Brothers by The Byrds (released January 1968), and Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends (released April 1968). Buck Owens made the second purchase of the Moog, his longtime collaborator Jeff Haskell recording Switched On Buck, an album of Owens material recorded entirely on the Moog and released by Capitol Records in 1971. (Carlos purchased the first and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees purchased the third model).

A more portable version was created and the “Minimoog” was played by a number of musicians, most notably by Jan Hammer in the Mahavishnu Orchestra beginning in 1971. The Minimoog proved versatile enough to allow Hammer to solo with equal musicality/facility to that of his colleagues John McLaughlin on guitar and Jerry Goodman on violin. Avant garde jazz musician Sun Ra often used the Moog as his instrument of choice to achieve his unique sound. A custom Moog Modular System was also featured prominently onEmerson, Lake & Palmer’s song “Lucky Man”, Keith Emerson’s Moog solo at the end. Another famous use of the Moog was in Tangerine Dream’s electronic landmark albumPhaedra in 1974, which was a major hit in the UK—it reached #15 on the British album charts and playing a significant role in establishing the fledgling independent label Virgin Records.


Week 2 Film Excerpt:


Director: Hans Fjellestad | 2004 | 72 minutes

MOOG, is a documentary about Robert Moog, inventor of the modern synthesiser, & is a portrait of the legendary figure in music and technology.  His ideas about creativity, design, interactivity, spirituality and his collaborations with musicians over the years is expressed throughout the film. 


AIR - Do the Joy (LIVE@KCRW March 29, 2010) HD

@airofficial “Electronics innovator Robert Moog was born on this day in 1934. In his honor, watch Nico and JB perform "Do The Joy” Live on KCRW’s ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’. JB plays his vintage Moog synthesizer"