RIP: Robert A. Moog
2 September 2005
Robert A. Moog died a few days ago at his home in Asheville, North
Carolina. He was a brilliant pioneer in the field of sound synthesis.
Although I took piano lessons when I was a boy, my mother's recordings of
classical music performed on traditional instruments couldn't hold my
attention for long. But when she brought home a copy of
Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange, created entirely with very early Moog
synthesizers, I was riveted. That record held the most fascinating,
eerie, demonic, angelic sounds I'd ever heard. I played it over and
over, and proselytized to my baffled schoolmates about the
marvelous Moog synthesizer. Moog, a "scientist who spoke
music", had created a new instrument, and Carlos, a "musician who spoke
science", played it -- and together they filled my
8-year-old heart and mind with awe and wonder.
Thirty years later, that album is still one of the favorites
of my large collection, and it still transports me to a place no other
As I was reading
my eyes widened when I came to the following:
Moog drove an aging Toyota painted with a snail, vines and a fish
blowing bubbles. "When I drive that thing around, people smile at
me," he said. "I really feel I'm enhancing the environment."
My childhood hero, at age 71, drove an art car? Unbelievable!
Rest in peace, Mr. Moog. I'll be driving one when I'm 71 too, and
playing Moog synthesizer music on the stereo.
I doubt that Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange would affect most people
the way it does me, but in case you want to check it out, the CD release
A Clockwork Orange: Wendy Carlos's Complete Original Score.
(Wendy published under the name Walter in her early days.)
Don't confuse it with the official movie soundtrack.
There's a documentary film called
which reportedly shows his art car. I've ordered a copy.