Robert Moog Treated for Tumor

We were saddened to learn (via the website Boing-boing) that Dr. Robert A. Moog, inventor of the world's first real-time reconfigurable music synthesizer, is being treated for a brain tumor (glioblastoma multiforme or GBM), for which he is receiving radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

Moog is probably best known to audiophiles for the Wendy Carlos albums Switched On Bach (1968) and The Well-Tempered Synthesizer (1969), which were not the first albums to feature his Moog synthesizers, but may have been the first that exploited the instrument's potential for musical expression rather than strange burbling noises (pace The In Sounds From Way Out).

While working at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, Moog developed voltage-controlled oscillators and envelope generators, which can be considered the building blocks of all subsequent synthesizers. Other Moog innovations that became de facto standards include the logarithmic one-volt-per-octave pitch control, analog synthesizer control interfacing, separate pulse triggering signals, and the inclusion of a standard piano keyboard as part of the instrument. Digital synths now dominate the scene, but "classic" analog synthesizers have been undergoing a revival for their "warmer" old-school tonality.

Anyone who has ever met Bob Moog can attest to the fact that he's a warm, outgoing, charming man who wears his fame lightly. It's difficult to remember that in the super-charged '60s he was considered a musical anarchist (if not antichrist) for suggesting that synthesizers were musical instruments. Actually, before Bob Moog, they weren't, as the Hans Fjellstad film Moog (now available on DVD) makes plain.

Moog has a website, where his wife Illeana offers daily updates on his progress. Well-wishers can also send personal messages to Moog through the site's guestbook. Illeana Moog writes, "It is tremendously strengthening to know that so many people are giving us support at this time."

Visitors to the site are invited to donate to CaringBridge, a non-profit 501 (c) organization that arranges personal websites for "those wishing to stay in touch with family and friends during significant life events."

Stereophile extends its best wishes to Bob Moog and his family during this difficult time.