December 31, 2005

Two thoughts about Moog

2005 left us without Moog's sheer genious. Remembering him, I have revisited "Moog: The Documentary", and I highly recommend it to everybody, interested in electronic music or not. However, two things are bugging me since I watched it.
First, the name of Moog's invention ("synthesizer") has been probably a mistake. As he (defensively) says in the documentary, "these are not fake sounds, these are true electronic sounds". I agree, that's why I think the name "synthesizer", which denotes imitation and copy of natural things (like in the phrase "synthesis of urea") is unfortunate. It would be better to stick with the name of the creator, "Moog". It took years to lead people into looking at this instrument as it is, not as a substitute of anything else. That battle has not finished yet...
Second, the keyboard. He says that you don't need a keyboard at all for playing and modulating the sounds that came from his machine. You could use any other device. They put a keyboard in it because they thought it would be easily accepted by musicians through the world. This proved to be true but, at which price? The consequence of that design decision led many people to use the synthesizer in "traditional" ways. He recognizes that most of the musicians that adopted his invention used it to create music that could be done without synthesizer anyway. Using it to create new musics, impossible to create before, also took some years.
In any case, these two issues do not shadow the incredible achievement of Robert Moog, a device that truly changed the world and the life of so many people.
Happy 2006 to all !

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