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Google Pays Ultimate Tribute to Electronic Music Pioneer Robert Moog

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Google screen shot of Moog Tribute

Google Crafts Playable Bob Moog Synthesizer Doodle 

PC Mag | By Chloe Albanesius | May 23, 2012 09:27am EST

 

Robert Moog

Google has crafted another interactive homepage doodle, this one honoring the 78th birthday of Robert Moog, considered by many to be a pioneer in the electronic music space.

The playable doodle features his signature Moog synthesizer, with all the accompanying bells and whistles. A quick-start guide on moogmusic.com provides details on how to play the doodle, which also allows users to record their creations and share them with friends. A demonstration is also available in the video below.

"With his passion for high-tech toolmaking in the service of creativity, Bob Moog is something of a patron saint of the nerdy arts and a hero to many of us here," Google software engineer Joey Hurst said in a blog post. "So for the next 24 hours on our homepage, you'll find an interactive, playable logo inspired by the instruments with which Moog brought musical performance into the electronic age."

Google said that when using the doodle in Chrome, sound is generated natively using the Web Audio API, a doodle first. Other browsers utilize a Flash plugin.

"When people hear the word 'synthesizer' they often think 'synthetic'—fake, manufactured, unnatural. In contrast, Bob Moog's synthesizers produce beautiful, organic and rich sounds that are, nearly 50 years later, regarded by many professional musicians as the epitome of an electronic instrument," Hurst continued. "'Synthesizer,' it turns out, refers to the synthesis embedded in Moog's instruments: a network of electronic components working together to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts."

Moog was born in 1934 in New York City. In the early 1950's, he and his father started building and selling theremins, an early electronic musical instrument. By 1963, Moog used his experience with theremins to design and construct the first Moog Modular synthesizer, and started taking orders the following year.

The Moog became a popular instrument for artists, from the 1968 Wendy CarlosSwitched-On Bach album, recorded entirely with a custom-made Moog Modular synthesizer, to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the bass lines of which were created using two of Moog's Minimoog synthesizers.

Moog's company went through several name changes and owners over the years, prompting him to leave his own firm in the late 1970s and found Big Briar. Moog continued to work on new products, however, until his death of an inoperable brain tumor in 2005.

In addition to the Google homepage, Moog is also now immortalized on the walls of Moog Music. The company commissioned a huge mural of Moog for the exterior of its factory in Asheville, N.C., created by local Asheville artist, Dustin Spagnola.

Not surprisingly, Moog's technology has made its way to the app world. The Animoog for iPhone and iPad bring the warm, expressive, fat sound inherent to 1970s monophonic analog synthesizers right to your fingertips. Normally $30, the iPad app is now $9.99 until May 29, while the iPhone app is only $0.99. For more, see PCMag's full review of the Animoog for iPad.

One of Google's previous playable Google doodles was for musician Les Paul. The logo on Google.com was replaced with the strings of a guitar that played a tune as you strummed them with your mouse. In the U.S., users could click the black "compose" button and record a 30-second track. PCMag's former creative director, Chris Phillips, managed to record a Beatles tune, and the doodle proved so popular that Google created a standalone site.

For more on Google's doodles, meanwhile, see the slideshow above. Recently, the company has honored artist Keith Haring, zipper pioneer Gideon Sundback, and Howard Carter, a British archaeologist best known for uncovering the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt.

For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

 

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Carol Fowler

And a proud moment for son, Matt Moog, founder of BuiltInChicago.org, who only learned last night of Google's plans to honor his dad's birthday and contribution to music in this creative way.

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