May 23, 2012 - Happy Birthday, Bob Moog

There was a time when people had to pluck or bow or hit a string, or blow air through a pipe or reed or horn, or hit a bell or drum or wooden block in order to make music...

And then the electronics revolution swept through every industry and art form, including music. Bob Moog was a pioneer of electronic music and invented the Moog synthesizer.

Reading about Moog's college career, you might not have imagined him making a huge contribution to music. Moog, who was born in 1934 and brought up in New York City, earned a bachelor's degree in physics, a second bachelor's in electrical engineering, and a PhD in engineering physics.

Indeed, all his life Moog thought of himself as an engineer and toolmaker. It's just that his customers – the people who used his tools – were musicians!

Moog started his first company when he was just 19 years old. He made theremins, an electronic musical instrument that can be played without being touched. Two metal antennas sense the position of the player's hands. The player controls pitch with one hand and volume with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a speaker.

Moog's synthesizer, on the other hand, had a keyboard and buttons and controls as well as some automatic sound generators and rhythms.

Play Today!

If you have an electronic keyboard or other electronic instrument, play a song today in honor of Moog. If not, check out this virtual piano and these virtual drums.

I love to set up a drum beat and then play on top of that. Here is a virtual keyboard that allows you to do just that! 

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