Google recently commemorated the 78th birthday of electronic music pioneer, Dr. Robert Moog, with a doodle of Moog’s most famous invention, the synthesizer.
In an interview with the LA Times from 1981 archived in Rock’s Backpages, Moog recounts the unexpected success of his invention in 70′s pop music and reacts to “recent” synthesizer hits from Jeff Beck, Bowie, and Funkadelic. Even in 1981, only 17 years into its long history, the instrument had already gone through one cycle of ascendancy, decline, and resurrection in the music world. Moog, a great believer in the vitality and musical possibility inherent in his invention, isn’t afraid to get philosophical about its use, either:
“The use of sequencers and pre-set patches, these electronic assists of some sort, raise a philosophical question,” he reflected. “What is the musician really doing when he plays something that’s preprogrammed?
If he keeps busy, he can get as much musical content into manipulating something that’s already preprogrammed as he can by playing every note on the keyboard from scratch.
“On the other hand, I just had to wonder, when the Donna Summer tune is played live, what do those guys do? The audience expects a musician to be doing something and if he’s not doing as much as they except, it’s more showbiz than music.”