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In the mid-1960’s, I first heard the sound of a synthesizer. When Wendy Carlos‘ album Switched on Bach was released in 1968 I was totally convinced that electronic instruments was the future. As I couldn’t afford to buy a real Moog, I spent a few years studying electronic engineering and telecoms to enable me to build my own, that I eventually used in my final year project in 1975. I think I’ve only one or two of the home-etched circuit boards left in some drawer. I had to disassemble the synth when I finished the final year project, as some parts were borrowed from physics labs, other parts designed and built by me (only recordings remain).

I was delighted today to find the Moog Foundation on the web. I fully agree with their vision that music, and in particular by using electronic instruments like the Moog-range, is an excellent way to get young people interested in art, science and technology. It is a very intuitive way to learn as you can start by exploring a few simple buttons and tweaking a few knobs – and immediately hear the result. The magic of this directness can then easily lead to a feeling of wonder about how it works. When you get onto that path of discovery, you can learn a lot about music, physics, electronics, maths, and a number of other things such as the importance of designing things so that they are suitable for human use. This is probably one of the most important aspects of Bob Moog‘s work. He worked together with musicians. While it is simple to get a knob to change the resonance frequency of a filter, the control curve (the mapping) has to feel natural to the musician (while it may sometimes be a difficult engineering problem to get the right non-linearity, especially when working with analog electronics).
So, here’s to Bob Moog, Wendy Carlos, and many others whose work and art I’ve enjoyed so much over the years, and still do. Let’s keep on designing, building, exploring and making.

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