[DRONING] TREVOR PINCH: That droning sound is that's such a typical beautiful Moog sound. Hear that. And it's subtly beating together. And that's what people love. When they talk about the warmth of analog synth, listen to that. It feels like it's breathing.
This is the 1960s. And just imagine the thrill of this year. You're in upstate New York in this tiny little town, Trumansburg, this tiny little factory that employed about 30 people in all, most of the people, as we call it, stuffing circuit boards.
And imagine the thrill for them, that bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were buying the Moog synthesizer. It was just amazing. And there, the musicians played a crucial role.
He had a studio musician who was a guy at Cornell called David Borden, who formed the first-ever live synthesizer ensemble, Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company. Now we just call it Mother Mallard. They always had a little duck on stage with them. And Dave Borden was a studio musician. And he would work with Robert Moog, refining components of the synthesizer.
DAVID BORDEN: I was only there a few days, and I noticed an electronics burn smell in the air. And I-- yeah, Bob came down. And he was only there for like maybe five seconds. And he looked at it, and he said, holy-- you know?
And I thought, uh-oh, that's the end of me here. And instead, he came over and put his arm around my shoulder, which he never does to people. He gave me a key. And he said, just stay as late as you like. And don't worry about anything.
And leave it set up. Don't worry about cleaning up after yourself. Just leave it set up the way you do.
So I did that for six months. And then I knew what I was doing at the end of six months. But it took me that long.
And Bob knew it, too. And he came, and he talked to me. And he said, in the process of the last few months, we've redesigned all the modules so that no matter how they are hooked up, they will not fail, and they won't burn out. So that's my contribution to the research of the Moog synthesizer. I was idiot-proofing everything.
JUDITH PERAINO: The legacy of Robert Moog and the synthesizer is, you know, if I'm going to be a little bit over the top, is all electronic music. He's interested in what can electricity do for music? How can we make electricity musical?
That it's not an artificial sound for him. It's what electricity does. And he's exploring all the different ways in which you can get modified wave forms, and filters, and so forth to create this new world of pitch generation.
TREVOR PINCH: Bob Moog said electronic music instruments and musical instruments in general are the most delicate interface we have between human and machine. So designing one that's a success like Moog did, it's incredible that he could do that. I mean, he had a lot of luck. He had a team of engineers helping him, but there's got to be something in what he did that no one else did, that putting it all together. That is why we remember the name of Moog and why people love him so much and have great affection for him, as I do.
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To honor inventor Robert Moog, Ph.D. ’65, and to celebrate the opening of his archives at Cornell University Library, Cornell looks back at the beginnings of the Moog synthesizer, which sparked a revolution in modern music. Moog’s papers, comprised of more than 100 boxes of documents, photographs, design schematics, and sound and moving image recordings are now open for public research in Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.