Wow, Google has really outdone itself with today’s doodle. We’ve had plenty of great ones before featuring great writers, artist, scientists and, er, snowflakes, but this one features some of the best interactivity I can remember in a while. Today would have been the 78th birthday of Robert Moog, and the doodle honors him with a fully playable version of his famous synthesizer, complete with lots of knobs to twiddle and tweak the sounds just like the real thing.
You can play the keyboard using the number and/or QWERTY keys on your actual keyboard and use the cursor arrows to move between and adjust the Mixer, Oscillators, Filters and Envelope to make all sorts of crazy squelchy synth sounds. The Moog website has a quick start guide on how to play it. And there’s more – that funny looking thing to the right of the Moog is a “Tape Recorder” (look it up on Wikipedia) and if you hit the red button you can record a short section of your masterpiece, then play it back and record another three tracks and also share your song on Google+ or grab a link to it.
Moog was born in New York in 1934 and was building and selling Theremins with his father from 1954 onwards. In 1963 he designed and built his first modular synthesizer with voltage-controlled oscillators and amplifiers, and other controllers that turned sounds on or off and could change their pitch and modulation rates. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from Cornell in 1965 and shortly after founded a company to start selling his Moog Modular Synthesizers.
You will have heard the sound of Moog synths in pretty much every form of music around since the ’60s – from movie soundtracks such as Midnight Cowboy, to artists such as Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder, right the way through to Heavy Metal rockers like Ozzy Osbourne, and any self-respecting electronic musician today will have at least one Moog in their arsenal of vintage synths.
Although Bob Moog left the company in 1977, he continued to create pioneering audio devices for other companies, including a version of his famous synth for the Commodore 64, and continued to develop theremins and theremin kits. Moog, the company, continued to produce various synthesizers and gradually built new features into them such as MIDI controls and sequencers. Eventually, the two Moog entities recombined in 2002 and re-released the famous Minimoog, amongst other things.
Bob Moog died from an inoperable brain tumour in 2005, and after his death, Bob’s family started the Bob Moog Foundation with its goal “to ignite creativity at the intersection of music, science, history and innovation.” Their MoogLab Student Outreach project, “brings Moog instruments into schools to teach children the science behind electronic music and inspire them to create and innovate in their own ways.” Man, I would have loved that when I was at school!
The company that bears the Moog name still continues to innovate. In addition the fantastic hardware synths, theremins and even guitars, they have embraced the today’s app ecosphere with the stunning Animoog for iPad and iPhone – and to celebrate their founder’s birthday the iPhone version is just $0.99 until the weekend and the iPad version discounted to just $9.99. I can heartily recommend both of them: even if you’re not very musical you can have so much fun just playing around with the noises they can generate.