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Moog Music is an American company based in Asheville, North Carolina which manufactures electronic musical instruments. It was founded in 1953 as R.A. Moog Co. by Robert Moog and his father, later becoming Moog Music in 1972. Its early instruments included various Moog modular synthesizer systems, followed by the launch of the Minimoog in 1970, which became one of the most influential electronic instruments of all time.

Moog Music Inc.
Corporation
Founded1953; 66 years ago (1953) (as R.A. Moog Co.)
New York City, New York, U.S.
HeadquartersAsheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Key people
Robert Moog, Founder
Mike Adams, President
ProductsMusical instruments, Guitars, Signal processing
Websitewww.moogmusic.com

Contents

HistoryEdit

1953-1967 - R.A. Moog Co.Edit

Robert Moog founded R.A. Moog Co. with his father in 1953 at the age of 19 in Trumansburg, New York, selling theremin kits to finance his college and graduate school education.[1] In 1963, experimental composer Herbert Deutsch introduced himself to Moog at a music education conference in Rochester, New York after Deutsch had built a theremin following Moog's design.[2] The two of them worked together to build the first modular voltage-controlled synthesizer.

1967-1971 - R.A. Moog, Inc.Edit

By 1967, R.A. Moog, Co. had become a larger enterprise, continuing to sell its theremin kits but with sales mainly focused on the commercial Moog synthesizer.[2] Though the Moog synthesizer's sound had rapidly become iconic with the success of Wendy Carlos's Switched-On Bach, the instrument nonetheless did not sell well due to its size and impracticality. The company ran deep into debt, turning a profit only one year of its existence - 1969, following the 'Switched-On' sensation ignited by Carlos.[3]

1971-1977 - Moog Music, Inc., changes of management, and financial duressEdit

In November 1971, rival company muSonics bought R.A. Moog, Inc. and relocated the company to Williamsville, New York. An old factory at the north end of Academy Street was purchased. The company was renamed Moog Musonics, then Moog Music, Inc.[2]

In 1972, former televangelist and successful salesman David VanKouvering joined the company as VP of Marketing, creating a network of retail stores throughout the United States and then the entire world.[3] Though the company saw success in the introduction of the Minimoog, Moog Music, Inc. was ultimately sold to Norlin Industries in 1973. At this point, rival companies Oberheim Electronics and ARP Instruments were producing both monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers that rapidly outstripped the Moog in popularity. By 1975, ARP owned 40% of the synthesizer market share, effectively boxing out Moog Music, Inc.[4]

In 1976, Norlin moved the company to a facility on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. In 1977, once his contract with Norlin expired, Moog officially left the company to pursue his own ventures, founding the firm Big Briar.[5]

1978-1987 - Contract manufacturing, the rise of digital synthesis, and bankruptcyEdit

By 1978, Moog Music, Inc. had released a number of followup products after the success of the Minimoog, including the Vocoder, the Multimoog, the Polymoog, and a series of Taurus bass pedals.[2] Despite numerous artists taking up these products, none of these synthesizers ever achieved the same level of success that the Minimoog did.[6] As such, the company began contract manufacturing in 1981 in various other industries, including subway system repairs and air conditioning systems.[7]

Around the same time, digital synthesis was swiftly becoming a viable alternative to analog synthesizers. The Fairlight CMI, released 1979, was an expensive though fully formed digital synthesizer and sampler;[8] in 1983, the introduction of the MIDI interface allowed rival Yamaha to release the world's first commercially successful digital synthesizer, the DX7.[9] Though Moog Music, Inc. would attempt to pivot its business model to produce digital synthesizers, the company officially declared bankruptcy in 1987.[5]

2000-Present - Legal battle and return to MoogEdit

As digital synthesizers rapidly became ubiquitous, the 1990s saw a rise in nostalgia for the iconic analog sound of Moog and Minimoog synthesizers, with musicians like David Foster continuing to use them. Minimoogs began fetching high prices as collector's items.[4] In 1994, the Moog Music trademark expired and was purchased by Don Martin; a legal battle ensued in 2000 over ownership of the name, and was ultimately returned to Robert Moog in 2002.[5]

The company moved to Ashevile, NC, and introduced numerous new products, including various updates to theremins, Moogerfoogers, and Minimoogs that continue to be sold and produced today.[1]

After Robert Moog died in 2005 due to complications arising from brain cancer,[10] his collaborator Michael Adams took over the company as president.[5] The company has since shifted to being primarily employee owned, with its 62 employees owning 49% of the company's shares in 2015.[11]

Major ProductsEdit

1964 - The Moog Modular SynthesizerEdit

 
First commercial Moog synthesizer, constructed 1964.

At the prompting of composer Herbert Deutsch, Moog invented his now iconic Moog modular synthesizer in 1964. Defined by its use of modules, or independent circuits that performed distinctive tasks - oscillators, filters, amplifiers, envelope generators - the Moog synthesizer allowed users to connect different modules in arbitrary configurations to create remarkably complex sounds. Famously, it also employed a keyboard interface; rival synthesizer manufacturers such as Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments did not.[3]

Moog went on to present the synthesizer at the 1964 Audio Engineering Society conference, where it rapidly gained notoriety.[5] The Moog saw some measure of success as experimental artists as Paul Beaver, Suzanne Ciani, and David Borden began to employ it in their work,[12] and the rise of psychedelic rock in the 1960s saw numerous commercial artists employ the Moog in their music, including The Byrds, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Doors.[13]

Perhaps the greatest commercial success for the Moog synthesizer arrived in 1968 with Wendy Carlos's seminal album, Switched-On Bach, selling over a million copies and winning three Grammy Awards. The success of that album prompted a brief fad of 'Switched-On' music that faded away by 1970.[3]

1970 - The MinimoogEdit

 
The Minimoog, introduced 1970.

Despite the success of the Moog, its relatively large size made it impractical for general use. Together with engineers Jim Scott and Bill Hemsath, Moog built the Minimoog. The Minimoog employed the minimal number of modules possible and did away with patch cords, instead hardwiring the various modules together. Furthermore, the Minimoog introduced the pitch wheel, enabling vibrato and pitch-bending of an interval up to a whole step in either direction.[5]Its compact size and range of available sounds allowed the Minimoog to be a comparative success, selling over 13,000 units over the next decade.[2] Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Tangerine Dream were among the musicians who used the Minimoog.

The company partnered with David VanKouvering, a former televangelist to advertise the Minimoog and sell it in retail stores both nationally and internationally.[2] Nonetheless, despite more commercial success with the Minimoog than with previous products, competition with ARP Instruments and Electronic Music Studios drove R.A. Moog, Inc. into debt.[12]

In 2002, on reacquiring the Moog Music trademark, the company began to produce the Minimoog Voyager, effectively an updated variant on the Minimoog. Other variations on the Minimoog continued to be produced, until the company simply decided to re-release the Minimoog in 2016.[7]

1975 - The TaurusEdit

 
The Moog Taurus, with its organ-style pedals.

The first true Moog bass instrument was the Moog Taurus, a pedal-operated analog synthesizer.[2] Like the Moog, it remained a monophonic analog subtractive synthesizer, initially with 13 pedals in its first model. The Taurus II was expanded to include 18 pedals, and the Taurus III returned to 13.[14]

The Taurus was picked up by various progressive rock bands, including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Genesis, and Dream Theater.[15]

1978 - The VocoderEdit

Though Moog had developed his own vocoder in 1968, Moog Music's commercial product was not released until 1978 and was based almost entirely on Harald Bode's design.[2] Many other companies already were releasing their own vocoders, including Korg, Roland, Electronic Music Studios, and more.[16] Its lack of support for MIDI has made it less enduringly popular than its counterparts. Musicians who used the Moog Vocoder include Saga (band), Wendy Carlos, The Moog Cookbook, and filmmaker/composer John Carpenter.[17]

1998 - The MoogerfoogerEdit

 
A Moogerfooger with low-pass filter functionality.

The Moogerfooger, introduced under Big Briar, is an analog effects pedal that essentially allowed users to apply the modules that constituted the original Moog design to arbitrary sound inputs.[18]Some of the effects included ring modulation, low-pass filtration, ladder filtration, and flanging.[19] The Moogerfooger was successful, and saw a variety of models produced. It was discontinued in 2018, after 20 years of production.[20]

List of synthesizer modelsEdit

 
A Moog One polyphonic synthesizer

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Moog: Inside the factory behind the world's best-loved synths". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2017-02-18. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Moog Archives". www.moogarchives.com. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  3. ^ a b c d Pinch, Trevor (2011-08-21). "In the Moog" (PDF). Cornell University. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  4. ^ a b "Moog, Robert | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Moog, Robert A(rthur) | Grove Music". www.oxfordmusiconline.com. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-1002250264 (inactive 2019-08-20). Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  6. ^ "Moog Archives". www.moogarchives.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  7. ^ a b "Moog Music, Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Moog Music, Inc". www.referenceforbusiness.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  8. ^ Jenkins, Mark. Analog synthesizers : understanding, performing, buying from the legacy of Moog to software synthesis. ISBN 9780429844386. OCLC 1079414202.
  9. ^ "Synthesizer | Grove Music". www.oxfordmusiconline.com. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000027270 (inactive 2019-08-20). Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  10. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2005-08-23). "Robert Moog, Creator of Music Synthesizer, Dies at 71". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  11. ^ "Asheville's Moog Music now employee owned". Citizen Times. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  12. ^ a b Menoche, Charles (December 2005). "Reviewed Work: Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer by Trevor Pinch, Frank Trocco". Notes. 62 (2): 404–406. doi:10.1353/not.2005.0141. JSTOR 4487592.
  13. ^ "It's pronounced (MOHG): A Brief History of How Moog Changed the Music World". B&H Explora. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  14. ^ "Moog Taurus I | Vintage Synth Explorer". www.vintagesynth.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  15. ^ "Moog Taurus 3". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  16. ^ "Vocoder | Grove Music". www.oxfordmusiconline.com. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000047646 (inactive 2019-08-20). Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  17. ^ "Moog Vocoder | Vintage Synth Explorer". www.vintagesynth.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  18. ^ Moog Music. "MoogerFooger101". Moog Music. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  19. ^ "Moog discontinues Moogerfooger effect pedal line after 20 years". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2018-08-28. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  20. ^ "Moog Announces End of Moogerfooger Pedals: A Look Back at What Made Them So Great". reverb.com. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  21. ^ Reid, Gordon. "The Rebirth Of Keith Emerson's Moog Modular - Second Coming". Sound on Sound (July 2014). Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. The stuff of synthesizer legend, Keith Emerson's megalithic modular system hasn't just been restored ? it's also been completely recreated.
  22. ^ "INTRODUCING MOTHER-32 - Moog Music Inc". www.moogmusic.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Sirin". www.mooghouseofelectronicus.com. Retrieved 24 Jan 2019.

External linksEdit