Academic journal article Notes

Moog

Academic journal article Notes

Moog

Article excerpt

Moog. DVD. Directed by Hans Fjellestad. Brooklyn, NY: Plexifilm, 2005. PLX018. $24.95.

Robert Moog (1934-2005) was a key figure in the development of electronic music in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century. As the inventor of the synthesizer, Moog's influence has been felt in many musical realms, including avant-garde composition, popular music, and even in advertising. At the same time, Moog was often castigated for creating "unnatural" musical instruments that were mistakenly thought to reduce or eliminate altogether the humanity of musical composition and performance. Hans Fjellestad's documentary film rectifies this common misunderstanding of Moog and his instruments, portraying Moog as a curious observer of nature, as an inventor deeply concerned with the ways people interact with musical instruments, and as a passionate and awestruck fan of music and the people who make it.

The film begins in Asheville, North Carolina, at his Moog Music, Inc. factory and at his home, where he explains how electronic music is a human creation. As Moog demonstrates how the various electronic components in the Minimoog work together to create sound, he observes that, like a violin builder's knowledge of wood, his understanding of circuitry imbues his instruments with specific timbral characteristics that are inseparable from Moog himself. In conjunction with this discussion, a beautiful sequence follows a Minimoog from raw materials to finished product, focusing especially on the hands of the technicians responsible for building the instruments. In this first act, therefore, Fjellestad and Moog together defend electronic music as an extension of humanity, not as an artificial and mass-manufactured product. …

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