robert-moog

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Robert Moog, moog synthesizer, first presented in 1964. Moog Music, USA.

In 1968 the album Switched-On Bach by Wendy Carlos became a huge success, honored with three Grammys. When Emerson Lake and Palmer took over in 1970, the audio machine initiated Prog Rock.

Pics: Keith Emerson and his big modular moog, 1974, Ralf Hütter - Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Rick Wakeman on moog, Tangerine Dream. Robert Moog (1934-2005) at his workstation. ©Robert Moog Memorial Foundation. 

Advertising for the minimoog, the first compact synthesizer, introduced in 1970. It played a famous part in Pink Floyd’s Shine on Crazy Diamond, 1975.

Good read: Source or guardian. Prog rock: slate

Described by the press as “alien” and like “a fox let loose in a chicken shack,” the sounds of the Moog synthesizer filled MoMA’s Sculpture Garden during the final event of the 1969 Jazz in the Garden concert series.  

[View of the concert performed by Robert Moog and the Moog Synthesizer, part of the Jazz in the Garden series, The Museum of Modern Art, August 28, 1969. Photographer: Peter Moore. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York]

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

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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

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.

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from walter to wendy

walter carlos was a young musician and an “early adopter” of the moog synthesizer.  as such, his feedback greatly helped robert moog further develop his line of instruments.  in 1968, gaining success with his grammy winning album switched-on bach, walter began to live as wendy.  by 1972, she’d had sex reassignment surgery and continued working on her own albums as well as scoring a couple of stanley kubrick’s films.  today, she’s still making music as well as photographing solar eclipses.