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Courtesy of Cornell University The electric sound of a synthesizer reverberates in the music of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones thanks to the innovations of Grammy-award winning Robert Moog Ph.D. ’64.
Last week, the University held a series of panels, concerts and exhibits celebrating the late Moog, whose role in inventing the synthesizer reshaped decades of song-making.
Prof. Trevor Pinch, science and technology studies, kicked off the celebration of Moog’s life who died in 2005 moderating a March 5 panel that highlighted the inventor’s impact on modern music.
At the event, Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, executive director of the Robert Moog Foundation, and David Borden, former director of the Cornell Digital Music Program, recalled Moog as a humble figure dedicated to his passion for music.
“As a person, he was very unassuming, and you knew he was a genius and he didn’t come off as one,” Borden said.
Moog’s dissertation for his Ph.D. — the ultrasonic absorption of sodium chloride — had nothing to do with his invention of the synthesizer. Outside of his study of engineering physics, Moog gained an early interest for building electronic instruments. “He started taking piano lessons when he was four years old,” Moog-Koussa said. “He had a long and pretty arduous training.”
As an undergraduate, Moog founded the R.A. Moog Company for electronic instrument design. Moog then worked with composers Herbet Deutsch and Wendy Carlos to develop the well-known “ Moog synthesizer. ”While first associated with avant-garde, psychedelic music, the success of Carlo’s album brought the synthesizer into […]