Steinway Model D. Photo courtesy Steinway & Sons.

These piano breakthroughs changed music forever

Yesterday was Piano Day – a day recently christened by composer/pianist Nils Frahm in order to celebrate that ubiquitous keyboard instrument. (It’s held on the eighty-eighth day of the year.) There are concerts, marathons, project, releases – and unlike Record Store Day, this event won’t clog the ability to produce piano music. With that day as inspiration, I thought it was a good moment to look at some of the technology of and around the piano, to understand what has made this instrument special. That includes both strictly acoustic innovations as well as design features and breakthroughs that either inspired …

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Watch Bob Moog play and talk about the Theremin

It’s the instrument that was the first real electronic music product. And it’s the reason we even know the name Bob Moog – as it inspired Moog to go into electronics and the sale of electronic musical instruments. So, when the Theremin is the subject of a video by Bob Moog himself, it’s a big deal. You’ll have to settle for early-90s video quality, but you’ll be treated to the dulcet tones of Dr. Moog’s New York baritone narration of Theremin history, followed by an enchanting and pretty-darn-technically-good performance on the Russian electronic invention. Thanks to Chris Stack and experimentalsynth …

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Read the article Bob Moog wrote when he met Leon Theremin

It’s hard to imagine what the evolution of the synthesizer would have been without Leon Theremin. For one, it was Theremin’s invention that first captivated Robert Moog. Theremin kits were Dr. Moog’s first product and many would say, his first electronic instrumental love. That impact was significant, too, on a whole generation – actually, even my own father made building a kit Theremin one of his early experiences with electronics. The fall of the Soviet Union still has ripples felt in the electronic music world today. And surely there’s no more poignant moment in the intertwining of post-Cold War history …

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Watch a full-length electronic documentary from the 90s, and more free videos

America’s on-again, off-again love affair with electronic music – often, with idioms it helped create – is endlessly full of unexpected twists and turns. But all this bears examining. For some, it’s a journey back to the music that first inspired them. For others, it’s a chance to learn, perhaps, how where music has been might help lead to where it’s going. It’s a chance not just to repeat electronic music past, but go beyond it. And if you’re looking for something to entertain you this weekend, you could do worse than Modulations, a documentary from 1998. Back then, it …

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See the Exquisite Drawings Bob Moog Made of Prototypes, Circuits

We’re all touched by the musical inventions of technologists. But it’s something special to see those creations in their original hand. The Bob Moog Foundation has been posting circuitry, panel layouts, and prototype drawings made by Bob Moog (many in his hand) – and they’re beautiful. Don’t drink a lot of coffee before drawing plans if you want yours to look anything like this. You’ll see a range of creations – oscillator circuits from classic modular units, synth control panels, and even a percussion controller and tape heads. I’ve pasted a few here, but go to the Moog site for …

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Moog Really Is Recreating Keith Emerson’s Modular, in Biggest Analog Relaunch Ever

April Fools’ Day seemed an appropriate time for Moog Music to announce they were recreating Keith Emerson’s legendary, room-sized modular rig. I mean – that’s be preposterous. You’d need an unprecedented engineering team working round-the-clock for years to execute such a project. To do it right, you’d have to go back to the original circuit boards and reprint them, find surplus, vintage parts, source new parts that fit the specs, and assemble the entire thing by hand. So, uh – funny story. Turns out Moog Music had an unprecedented engineering team working round-the-clock for years, went back to the original …

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Moog Says Goodbye to Little Phatty with Lush Video, as Company, Synths Grow

What an extraordinary time of transformation it’s been in music instruments – one which has coincided unintentionally with the development of this site. When the Little Phatty first hit the market in 2006, it really was a very different era. While Moog Music had already shipped the Voyager and brought back Bob Moog’s name to their products, the market was dominated by digital instruments and in particular big workstations. Now, a whole lot of keyboards follow the path established by the Little Phatty: provide affordable instruments for musicians, use analog circuitry, embrace the monosynth, adopt one-to-one control of parameters. It’s …

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Plans to Move Moog Archives to Cornell Ignite Controversy, Concern for Bob Moog Foundation

This story has been updated based on an FAQ and official response to CDM from the Cornell University Library, responding to some of the concerns. The not-for-profit Bob Moog Foundation has been working since the synth pioneer’s death to restore and make accessible his archives, undertaking preservation efforts, mounting exhibitions, and recently acquiring a space to house them. They were therefore surprised last week, they said, to learn these archives were instead being donated to Cornell University, Moog’s alma mater. The announcement has quickly inspired an outcry from the music technology community, with critics arguing the move would cripple years …

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Good Vibrations: A Story About Remembering Bob Moog

Photo: Chris Stack. Obscure and famous, people touch us in creative ways, ways that reverberate in patterns that reach clarity at odd times. With just such a story, our last entry in Bob Moog’s birthday this week, from Moog Music veteran and experimentalsynth.com artist Chris Stack: Driving a truck into the night, headed to Nashville to tell the world about a new way to play guitar… no, wait… that’s a different (but related) story. Back on track… Here goes… It’s late evening, May 23, 2012. Bob Moog’s birthday. It has been a great day with people remembering Bob in many …

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This Bob Moog Guy Might Be Onto Something [History]

To close out today’s celebration of Dr. Robert Moog’s birthday, here’s a letter that captures an extraordinary moment in time. It’s a reminder, too, that we also live in extraordinary times today, moments that we can appreciate for their potential, without the benefit of hindsight. Today or tomorrow is the birthday of some new electronic pioneer, or some new innovation. And that’s the best kind of legacy anyone can leave. Chris Stack writes: Jon Hassell just shared with me a very interesting and historic letter. Very timely too, with tomorrow being Bob Moog’s Birthday celebration… 16nov64 Letter to Jon Hassell …

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