Tag Archives: Moog

Let’s Celebrate Bob Moog’s Birthday Today: Be Creative!

Robert Moog , engineer and pioneer of electronic music synthesis, was born 86 years ago on this date.

The skeptical cardiologist first revealed his love of electronic music and Bob’s Moog synthesizers in a post about the annual Moogfest music festival (sadly not held this year due to Covid-19.)

In college I became obsessed with Moog synthesizers and this obsession has only increased with age.  I was inspired by Wendy Carlos’ Switched on Bach which features her renditions of Bach pieces performed on an early modular Moog synthesizer. The glory of Bach transmuted by otherworldly Moog voices was mesmerizing.

I and my college roommate,  APOD-to-be Jerry Bonnell , purchased components from PAIA electronics, and with the assistance of electrical engineer and pi-plate-to-be Jerry Wasinger  built our  own modular synthesizer.  After my post on the delights of Asheville and the Moog Factory Museum piece was published several readers contacted me and have turned me on to other synthesizer performance pioneers including Gershon Kingsley (who has subsequently died-see obituary at end of post.)

Around the time of the 20014 Moogfest I missed due to THE FLU I acquired a small Sub Phatty Moog.

I used it in a song I created based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel Radio Free Albemuth  as the sound of the superintelligent, extraterrestrial, but less than omnipotent being (or network) named VALIS:

Valis/Sub Phatty goes wild delivering its rebellious message for the last 50 seconds and then fizzzles out.

Subsequently, I’ve acquired a duophonic (Bob Moog Tribute Edition!) Sub 37 Moog. The built-in arpeggiator/sequencer on the Sub 37 allows for some really creative rhythmic and patterned music creation. You gotta love all those flashing lights and delightful knobs just begging to be twirled!

An Email from the folks at Moog Music suggests

More Ways to Celebrate Bob

  1. Create your own music with the free Minimoog Model D iOS app.
  2. Share a memory or musical creation online using #CelebrateBob.
  3. Try your hand at this interactive Google Doodle, originally shared by Google on Bob’s birthday in 2012.
  4. Watch Hans Fjellestad’s Moog documentary.
  5. Listen to this episode of The Music History Project’s podcast.
  6. Learn more about electronic music pioneers and Moog Music’s history.
  7. Encourage creativity all around you!

So here’s to my hero, Bob Moog!

Paraphonically Yours,


N.B. Bonnell is one-half of the astronomy picture of the day and today’s picture is cool

Ghost Fungus to Magellanic Cloud
Image Credit & Copyright: Gill Fry

N.B.2 From the NYTimes obituary:

Gershon Kingsley, a composer who brought electronic sounds into popular music and wrote the enduring instrumental hit “Pop Corn,” died on Dec. 10 at his home in Manhattan. He was 97. His daughter Alisse Kingsley announced the death. Mr. Kingsley was an early convert to the Moog synthesizer in the 1960s. He used it to create music for commercials and to orchestrate perky melodies — most notably “Pop Corn,” an instrumental originally released on Mr. Kingsley’s 1969 album “Music to Moog By.” It became a best seller and was remade (usually renamed “Popcorn”) in hundreds of versions: by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Aphex Twin and the Muppets, among others. A 1972 version of “Popcorn” by Hot Butter made the song an international hit, and a 2005 remake for the animated character Crazy Frog became a major hit in Europe.

Source: Gershon Kingsley, Master of Electronic Sounds, Dies at 97 – The New York Times


48 Hours In Asheville: Chill Tonics, Moogs, Mountains, and Music

In order to escape Hurricane Dorian’s imminent arrival at Wrightsville Beach, NC the skeptical cardiologist and the wife formerly known as the eternal fiancee’ (WFKATEF) fled to Asheville, North Carolina.

There we spent a delightful 48 hours before heading to Mt. Airy, NC to participate in my daughter’s wedding.

We had never been to Asheville but found it to be a cozy town full of great food, music, booze, art, architecture, and books-surrounded by beautiful mountains with intriguing hiking trails.

We were lucky enough to snag a room at the Cambria hotel which is perfectly centered in downtown Asheville.

While the WFKATEF napped I strolled across the street and
investigated a gorgeous old building. This former and current shopping arcade was built by EW Grove.

A Tasteless Quinine Chill Tonic

Grove created a tasteless quinine (which for 300 years was the only effective malaria treatment ) tonic and by 1890 according to the Grove arcade website:

The chill tonic was so popular the British army made it standard issue for every soldier going off to mosquito infested lands and, by 1890, more bottles of Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic were sold than bottles of Coca-Cola.

Grove moved his tonic operations from Paris, Tennessee to St. Louis in 1890 but “the heavy pollution of the factory district caused Grove to develop lifelong breathing issues”.  As a result, Grove visited Asheville for its climate, which he found was good for his health and relieved his bronchitis.

Lots of wealthy individuals with tuberculosis visited Asheville between the 1880s and the 1930s due to a widespread perception in that era that its climate was optimal for curing the disease.

When Grove Arcade held its Grand Opening in 1929, it quickly became home to a fine collection of local shops and services. Following a period as the home of the National Weather Records Center it reopened in 2002 in its current incarnation.

A Delightful Book Exchange And Champagne Bar

My first discovery at the Grove was  the Battery Park Book Exchange  and Champagne Bar. I was intrigued by the combination of fine wine and champaign and old books.

Wandering through the various nooks and crannies of the Book Exchange one encounters delightful tables and chairs where one can consume a beverage and peruse classic literature. In one nook (or perhaps it was a cranny) I came across two of my all-time favorite books in a wonderful leather-bound format.58932518484__BADA9D50-717E-41B0-82C0-B3C87542082A No, I’m not a Eugene O’Neill fan but I strongly considered buying this gorgeous Franklin Library First edition of Barbara Tuchman’s description of the calamitous 14th century to replace my dog-eared and coffee-stained paperback edition.

Cool Random Art

Wandering around downtown Asheville we encountered sseemingly  random cool art such as this ironwork arbor of medicinal herbs featuring a bust of Elizabeth Blackwell the first woman to be awarded a medical degree in the United States..

The medicinal plants represent wild yam, Virginia creeper, sycamore, sweet gum maple, oak sassafras, witch hazel, and tulip poplar. Each of the plants incorporated are native to North Carolina and were used for medicinal purposes. The seats on the bench are made to look like gingko leaves. The monument is part of Asheville’s Urban Trail, a walking tour of the city’s downtown, highlighting historic people and events relevant to Asheville.

Elsewhere we encountered a giant iron.

Apparently this giant replica of an antique iron refers to the Asheville Flat Iron Building (1926)  designed by Albert Wirth and reminiscent of the ground-breaking 1902 skyscraper that graces Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

In putting this post together I realized that these features are part of the Asheville Urban Trail which features various artistic references to” George Vanderbilt, E.W. Grove, Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Douglas Ellington, and a short story writer calling himself O. Henry ~ just to name a few.”

Musical Jams At Jack of the Wood

As I rambled past an interesting looking Irish pub, Jack of the Wood, I noticed a flyer indicating that  old time music jam sessions occurred there every Wednesday night. We ended up there that night mesmerized by  a rotating group of locals playing banjos, guitars, fiddles, and a string bass.

We liked Jack of the Wood so much we came back the next night for the bluegrass jam.

Excellent Beer, Booze, Farm To Table Food

That night we Ubered to west Asheville and had a wonderful meal at Jargon. The WFKATEF ordered a cocktail named the Icebreaker 2.0 predominantly because it involved smashing a “hollow smoked ice ball” in our presence.

(Ice Breaker 2.0 – Knob Creek Bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, Ramazzotti Amaro, Angostura bitters, hollow smoked ice ball )
Asheville has a thriving craft beer scene but as I was in a keto frame of mind I didn’t partake extensively. It is also known for its excellent farm to table and foodie restaurants.
I won’t bore you with the details of a food and booze tour that we took or random rum tasting but if you are interested in such things Food and Wine has their own “48 hours in Asheville” which focuses on (shocker) food and booze in Asheville here.

Gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and Trails

Asheville is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains which offer lots of great hiking opportunities. Our time was limited but we managed a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to take a brief hike at Craggy Pinnacle 

The Blue Ridge Parkway  is a 500 mile road stretching from Virginia to North Carolina and managed by the National Park Service. It is a “series of parks providing the visitor access to high mountain passes, a continuous series of panoramic views, the boundaries of its limited right-of-way rarely apparent and miles of the adjacent countryside seemingly a part of the protected scene.”

Moog Factory Tour

A highlight of Asheville for me was the Moog factory tour

Moog Music synthesizers are deisgned and handcrafted in the Moog factory in downtown Asheville, NC and they offer a free tour daily.

While waiting for the formal tour to begin you find yourself in a room containing a painstakingly recreated version of the Moog modular that Keith Emerson played on tours and on fantastic albums with Emerson, Lake and Palmer..

You are also surrounded by every Moog synthesizer and processor that Moog sells. Even more fun, if you get there early like I did you can play every single one.

I own several Moogs and I could talk forever about the history of Bob Moog and Keith Emerson but I will leave that for another post.

Keith Emerson discovered the Moog synthesizer with his band The Nice in 1969. Shortly thereafter, he reached out to Bob Moog and acquired one of the first Moog modular synthesizers, which was built for the Museum Of Modern Art’s “Jazz In The Garden” public performance.  From then on, the names Emerson and Moog were entwined forever. Keith became the most-visible proponent of the synthesizer revolution, using the Moog loyally onstage for almost every show of his career. Emerson became the brightest name in the world of progressive rock music, his influence and creativity rivaled only by Jimi Hendrix. He was a masterful musician in many styles, but also a renowned showman who understood that elaborate theatrics would elevate the experience of the audience to a fever pitch. Part of his “show” was to faithfully include the monstrous wall of modules and cables that his Moog had become over the years, as it had developed an instantly recognizable sound that no other instrument could duplicate.

The Unseen Biltmore Estate

The leading tourist attraction in Asheville is the Biltmore estate. It is apparently the largest house in America but as I am a little burned out on fancy large palaces in Europe we decided not to go there.

I did want to wander through the gardens at Biltmore but you can’t purchase a ticket to do just that. You must purchase the $69 ticket and

Escape from everyday life to George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate in Asheville, NC. Your admission includes a self-guided visit of the breathtaking Biltmore House & Gardens, Antler Hill Village, and a complimentary wine tasting at our Winery.

All in all I would rate our visit to Asheville as one of the best 48 hours I’ve had in any American city.

Serendipitously Yours,