Bob Moog: How he changed music forever

A Google doodle today honors the legacy of Bob Moog, the creator of a famous line of synthesizers, and the grandfather of electronic music. 

The Google homepage today honors the memory of Bob Moog, the brain behind Moog Music.

A Google doodle today is emblazoned with an interactive synthesizer, an homage to music pioneer Bob Moog, who would have turned 78 today.

So who was Robert "Bob" Moog? A consummate tinkerer, an electronic music pioneer, founder of Moog Music, and the progenitor of a sound that has been described as "assertive, bouncy, exotically wheezy and occasionally explosive." 

Moog was born and raised in New York City. He studied physics at Queens College and electrical engineering at Columbia. In the mid-1960s, as a doctoral candidate in engineering physics at Cornell University, he paired with the composer Herbert Deutsch to develop a voltage-controlled synthesizer module – a portable, relatively-easy-to-use synth that yielded a range of weird and otherworldly noises. 

As the Associated Press has pointed out, "other synthesizers were already on the market [at the time], but Moog's stood out for being small, light and versatile." Moreover, Moog's timing was right: Bands such as The Beatles, which would eventually use a Moog machine on the album "Abbey Road," wanted a psychedelic sound, and the Moog could provide it in spades. 

"A note might, for example, explode in a sudden burst, like a trumpet blast, or it could fade in at any number of speeds," the New York Times wrote in an obituary for Moog. A range of musicians adopted the Moog machines: Herbie Hancock and Sun Ra, the jazz greats; the Monkees and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the rock groups; even the Beastie Boys, the rap group formed in 1981. 

"A lot of people today don't realize what this man brought to the masses," Charles Carlini, a New York concert promoter, told the Associated Press. "He brought electronic music to the masses and changed the way we hear music."

Moog died in 2005, at the age of 71. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Bob Moog: How he changed music forever
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today