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Published:August 21st, 2014 14:13 EST
In a Domineering Digital Era, Why Is It Bob Moog`s Minimoog Model D Hasn`t Retired to the Keyboard Boneyard?

In a Domineering Digital Era, Why Is It Bob Moog`s Minimoog Model D Hasn`t Retired to the Keyboard Boneyard?

By John G. Kays

I`m an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers. They use my tools. Bob Moog

Visiting the This Day In Music web site is becoming a nice little hobby of mine; while many of the entries for today, August 21st, were interesting, the one that most tickled my fickle fancy (with a soft and silky feather) was the entry mentioning the death of Robert Moog on this day, with the year being 2005

Robert Arthur Bob Moog was born on May 23, 1934, which would put him at 71-years-old when he died (the cause of his death was glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor). My enthusiasm for Bob Moog (rhymes with vogue for correct pronunciation) is considerable, but my understanding of his accomplishments in musical engineering are limited, so I had to do about three or four hours of research rather early here, until I felt comfortable with his obvious genius

The best example is his inventive brilliance is coming up with an analog synthesizer (the Minimoog Model D and the Minimoog Voyager). (Good sources can be found on Wikipedia, The New York Times, and YouTube, naturally).

I`m not 100% in comprehension (fully grasping) what happened, first in 1968 with Wendy Carlos`s Switched On Bach was released, then, in 1970, with the finalizing of the Minimoog Model D design, with its handsome and stylish wood-cased keyboard. This struck a pitch-altering-chord with me (I couldn`t make much sense of it); however, I was able to put together a plethora of examples, manifested by way of Gargantuan Seventies Rock Stars, who`ve utilized this strange instrument to their advantage (both in concert and on the charts).

So this helps me place it in a tangible setting, although I don`t believe I`ve ever known anyone (a musician) who actually owned or played the Minimoog Model D (12,000 came into circulation between 1970 and 1980), nor have I had a chance to play one myself (I`d probably have to go to a museum to play one nowdays).

Hell, I even tried to purchase Switched On Bach on itunes this morning, but it`s no longer available; probably out of print. (If they re-issued SOB it would sell in the millions!) YouTube has a few of these selections, but there are so many other examples for your listening pleasure, it`s most mind boggling (bending), really!

I`ve collected some Emerson, Lake, and Palmer vinyl, as well as sundry Rick Wakeman`s offerings (The Seven Wives of Henry VIII comes to mind). And don`t forget Kraftwork, such as Autobahn or Man-Machine; and then there`s Tangerine Dream; unfortunately, I don`t own any early TD, but that will probably change. This is an entirely new and unique way to view the History of Rock & Roll: only examine the who, where, and when of the Minimoog

Okay, so I almost forgot about The Beatles` heavy use of the awkward keyboard on Abbey Road; it`s used  on Paul`s Maxwell`s Silver Hammer, George`s Here Comes The Sun, and John`s Because, I believe. George Harrison brought the instrument to the band; as such, he has an entire analog synthesizer solo album titled Electronic Sounds, released in 1968. 

The strength of the Minimoog, as I see it, is the keyboardist can change and semi-mix, or process as they perform, fooling around with (modulating) the pitch, the wave form, and the envelope, which has funky attack, decay, sustain, and release features. Just check out Lucky Man, why don`t you, by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. That`s where its at! Bending, quivering, gyrating keyboard notes put your head in a place digital keys can never touch!