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With You in 4/4
by Peter Mavrik
2005-08-31

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Robert A. Moog. Seventy one years on this earth, and a legacy of such grand proportions, it's hard to comprehend the massive effect his life has had on music as we know it today.

Robert A. Moog. Rhymes with Vogue. Electrical engineer. Inventor. Ph. D. Theremin enthusiast. He started building them in 1954. The theremin was one of the first electronic instruments in the world, and building them inspired him to create a career and a business that would impact every genre of music.

In 1964, R.A. Moog Co. marketed the first commercial synthesizer, a small and lightweight device that could generate sounds by manipulating knobs, switches, and sliders. A few years and a few iterations of the instrument later, pianist Wendy Carlos had an album called 'Switched-On-Bach' on Columbia Records that sold a million copies and created an instant demand for Moog synthesizers. The world of music was forever changed.

As happenstance would have it, the Beatles were exploring drugs around that time, and just on their way to making music about it. Their new psychedelic sounds and the Moog synthesizer were a perfect fit, and 'Abbey Road' was born.

By the end of 1970 the 'Minimoog' was born. It was a truly portable version that allowed keyboardists to easily take them along on tour. The signature Moog synth sound diffused into music faster than anything else, and for many people defined the decade.

Manfred Mann's 'Blinded By The Light' and Stevie Wonder's 'Livin' For The City' are just two examples of the effusive sound of the Moog. The synth sound is dominant and expressive in both tunes, which showcase exactly what the Moog could do.

Countless other artists added Moog's keyboards into their ranks. Rock, R&B, Classical, Country, every flavor of Dance; you name it and they were on the Moog bandwagon. Its sounds were so adjustable, you couldn't help but sound better with a Moog.

Yet Moog and his keyboards did more than just make music. They shifted us into the digital age. The fact that music, or even sound, could be 'synthesized' easily led artists and engineers to forge a bond with technology that is inseparable in the studio, and has been for the last few decades.

Moog's genius was never his musical skills. Nor was it his capacity as an engineer. It was his profound ability to bring both worlds together. He was dedicated to creating and innovating to further both the art and the science of music. In every keyboard, in every studio, and on nearly every recording since he began, Moog's influence is there. Listen close and you can hear it.

With you in 4/4,

Peter Mavrik

peter@windycitymediagroup.com


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