Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 38556
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2018/02/19 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2005/7/12-13 [Health/Disease/General, Science/Electric, Recreation/Music] UID:38556 Activity:nil
7/12    Bob Moog is seriously ill with a brain tumor:
        If you don't know who he is, check:
2018/02/19 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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           \_ It's just instrumental music man,
              The stuff you listen to while coding.
           \_ If you have to ask you don't know.
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Read Story TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2005 12:59 AM CST I feel that I am repeating myself when I say, 'Thank you, thank you all s o much for the loving messages, prayers, and positive energy you are sen ding to Bob,' but every time I read the messages everyone is sending, th at's what I feel. It is tremendously strengthening to know that so many people are giving us support at this time. Bob's energy is low right now, which we understand is to be expected at t his point in radiation. We are grateful for the nutritional advice we ar e following, as several people have commented that he is doing well comp ared to others in the same situation.
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While getting his doctorate in physics at Cornell University in 1963, Rob ert A Moog (By the way "Moog" is pronounced with a long "o" sound like Rogue or Vogue, not like Fugue) earned money by selling do-it-yourself t ransistorized theremins. One of Moog's thereminists was Herbert Deutsch, a composer. This led to c onversation about the need for new electronic instruments. Moog had his very first protot ype built in August 1964. D at Cornell and suffering vague notions of getting into the kit business. I had no concept of synthesizers or electronic music at all. It was just me and a couple of people in a storefront, designing a portable, battery-operated musical instrument amplifier kit -- which never did go into production, because it was way overpriced. This is a lesson you learn when you go into consumer electronics: The most important parameter of any product is price, because everything is measured against price, just the same way that in music, everything is measured against time. "All through the amplifier project, I was making theremins on a custom basis. I'd been doing that since I was 19 -- it was a hobby, the output of which I could sell. Waiter makes Grade Z movies, but before he made Grade Z movies he made porno movies, and before he made porno movies he sold tubas and my theremins -- invited me to come help him show theremins to school teachers at the New York State School Music Association convention, at the Concord Hotel. "What I knew about electronic music at the end of'63 was some vague knowledge that yes, at Columbia University there were some people who had something called the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and yes, they gave concerts once in a while, and yes, I should probably find out more. Herb was a music instructor at Hofstra who was doing his own experimental tape camposition." More or less in my spare time I built two voltage-controlled oscillators and two voltage-controlled amplifiers, and some kind of controller that could turn the sounds on and off and change the pitch and the rates of modulation. When Herb came up with his family -- he parked them at a cabin in the state park while we worked for three weeks -- he just flipped when he heard what my breadboards could do. By the end of that session and the one that followed, together we had come up with the basics of a modular analog synthesizer. "Mind you, neither of us had any idea where this was leading." This allows the perfor mer to create his own sounds by connecting modules with electric wires a nd by turning knobs. "We went across the border to the University of Toronto electronic music studio, which was, at that time, headed by Myron Schaeffer. He was the first person from the electronic music establishment to give us encouragement. Word got around, and in September I got a call from Jacqueline Harvey of the Audio Engineering Society (which was much smaller then than it is today). She called me up and said, 'We hear that you people are doing something ... I knew nothing about buying and selling and taking orders. So I went down and set up these few handmade modules on a little card table, and on one side of me was Ampex, with their huge tape recorders, and on the other side was 3M, and across the way was Sculley.... I was really a David among the Goliaths, and feeling very much out of place. Later that day, Nikolais came by and a most unexpected event happened: He placed an order. "We actually took two or three orders at the show which kept us busy for about six months. We were working overtime on a custom job for John Cage -- by that time I had eight or ten people working for me, but it was going badly and we were behind schedule -- and at 9 pm the phone rang. From the point of view of competence, we were never a business. We got some of the elements in place, but none of the controls or forecasting or planning that go with a well-run business. We first met when we all went out somewhere to have Chinese. By the time this became a business, Wendy was working as an engineer for Gotham Recording, one of the hip studios, and on the side she was putting together her own music system. She began ordering modules and of all sorts of critisisms. She really understood instinctively what I was doing right and wrong. It was always on the back of an envelope, or over the telephone. Wendy had already done a couple of Bach pieces, and she and Rachel Elkind -- who was Goddard Lieherson's secretary at CBS -- decided an electronic music record based on the works of Bach would be interesting. "I found myself giving a paper at the 1968 AES convention in NYC, on different ways of organizing electronic music studios. By that time we knew about sequencers, we knew about computer control, multi-track tape recording, etc. At the end of the talk I said to this fairly big audience, "As an example of multi-track electronic music studio composition technique, I would like to play an excerpt of a record that's about to be released of some mu- sic by Bach." These technical people were involved in so much flim-flam, so much shoddy, opportunistic stuff, and here was something that was just impeccably done and had obvious musical content and was totally innovative. When it came out, they lumped it in at a studio press party for Terry Riley's In C and an abysmal record called Rock and Other Four Letter Words. So CBS, frantic to have some representa- tion, asked me to demonstrate the synthesizer. I remember there was a nice big bowl of joints on top of the mixing console, and Terry Riley was there in his white Jesus suit, up on a pedestal, playing live on a Farfisa organ against a backup of tape delays. Rock and Other Four Letter Words went on to sell a few thousand records. Switched-On Bach sold over a million, and just keeps going on and on. "Walter Sear had been beating a path up and down Madison Avenue, selling modular systems to commercial music producers who did work for ad agencies. But when Switched-On Bach came out, the shit hit the fan. All the record producers had to have their Moog record for 1969. We got orders from CBS, NBC, Elektra, a lot of other guys. But mostly they were cynical, inept, opportunistic things: throw together a group, lay down some strings and horns and vocals, leave some space for a novelty melody line from the synth. We were back-ordered all through 1969 and the first half of 1970. The guys who'd jumped on doing their Moog records hadn't had hits, so they'd dumped their synthesizers. The second was that now we had competition -- ARP -- and their product had the appeal of stable oscillators and no patch cords. The third thing was a general recession that forced music producers to cut back. Suddenly we went from having a quarter-million backlog to no backlog at all. We'd been getting requests from studio musicians asking us to pack all that stuff into a nice package they could cary to gigs with them, and we'd done that, but we had no way of selling it. "Zero sales, huge bills, lots of inventory, and no capital. I'd been looking for capital for quite a while, but that's another thing I was absolutely no good at. I could never inspire money people to invest in the company. So this guy Bill Waytena -- who specialized in buying distressed companies, then pumping them up and selling them -- took over the company. It cost him nothing exept his guarantee that our personally secured debts and our suppliers would be paid off: more than $250,000." He'd actually hired a couple of engineers to design a synth called the Sonic V for a company of his called Musonics. He told me that it would be the next rage in adult toys, that all he had to do was advertise these things in Esquire and he'd sell 5,000 of them. Waytena's own recollection is that he was aiming mainly at the educational market. This wasn't entirely unreasonable: Back then poeple were going apeshit over things that made funny electronic sounds. Anyway, as soon as he put it out he saw he wasn't going to sell 5,000. He wasn't even going to sell 500, because he didn't have a name and he didn't have any product experience. "The building that we moved into had been a gelatin factory for the pr...