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Today Is Bob Moog's Birthday

Many today are celebrating the birthday of Robert Moog (rhymes with "vogue"), inventor of the Moog synthesizer. Google even has a special doodle that, when clicked, opens an online synthesizer app that the user can play.

Moog touched my life in a couple of small ways. When I was about 12,I acquired the album Switched-On Bach, a set of performances of Bach's music on a Moog synthesizer. Shortly thereafter, I picked up the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange, which contained similar renditions of other classical music. I couldn't see the movie. It was rated X and my mom wouldn't even let me see PG-rated horror movies. That's OK. I thoroughly enjoyed the album, and when I finally did see A Clockwork Orange at a midnight movie after I turned 18, it was a bit anticlimactic.

The synthesizer was not the only electronic musical instrument Moog made. The first was a theremin, which he built in 1948. Later, his company Moog Music started making them.

I never learned how to play the synthesizer. But I did get me a theremin from Moog's company. I was no Clara Rockmore, but I figured out how to play a few tunes. Of course I learned the Good Vibrations riff, and I also learned to play Amazing Grace and There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood. For some reason old hymns and the theremin are unusually well suited to each other.

I'm proud to say that in his later years, Bob Moog settled down in my home state. He lived and ran his company in Asheville, North Carolina, which is about 2 hours away from where I live. This was a cause of pride, but it did become a source of regret later. Some of my coffee shop buddies used to talk about making a road trip to Asheville and trying to meet Bob Moog. Sadly, all we did was talk about it and when he died in 2005 I could have kicked myself. It's was yet another reminder that people die, and you don't know when it will happen. Forgetting this can be a big cause of regrets.

But enough morose introspection. Let's listen to some Bach (performed on a moog synthesizer of course.)