Google, Bob Moog, and a little Theremin instruction booklet.

This morning on my way to the office on pop radio they mentioned that it was Bob Moog’s birthday and I nearly ran my car off the road in surprise! What do they know about Bob Moog? Well, it turn’s out that Google  put a little doodle of Bob Moog’s MiniMoog Synthesizer in place of the word Google because today would have been Bob Moog’s (by the way: it’s pronounced like Moe-g, not like what a cow says) 76th birthday and Google being the nerdy bunch they are, decided it was worth announcing to the world. I couldn’t agree more!

I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Moog in 1999 while working on my senior design thesis, a visual instruction book and flash based interactive guide for learning and performance on the Theremin.

Having spoken to him a number of times on the phone about my project, in order to meet him in person, I traveled to the Theremin Festival in Erie PA where he was giving a lecture on the history of the Theremin. At the festival I had the opportunity discuss a draft of my thesis with him in more detail. Something like my thesis had never really been done before and Mr Moog’s company was and is the leading provider of Theremins and Theremin kits. I had talked to him about including my materials with his kit’s and assembled Theremin’s for instructional purposes and he liked the idea. In the end however, we decided that neither of us had the resources to print and distribute the materials, but he did end up providing some great insights into the requirements of learning to actually play the instrument etc.

Here is the story from Wikipedia about how he got into Theremins

Moog constructed his own theremin as early as 1948. Later he described a theremin in the hobbyist magazine Electronics World and offered a kit of parts for the construction of the Electronic World’s Theremin, which became very successful. In the late 1980s Moog repaired the original theremin of Clara Rockmore, an accomplishment which he considered a high point of his professional career. He also produced, in collaboration with first wife Shirleigh Moog, Mrs. Rockmore’s album, The Art of the Theremin. Moog was a principal interview subject in the award-winning documentary film, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, the success of which led to a revival of interest in the theremin. Moog Music went back to its roots and once again began manufacturing theremins. Thousands have been sold to date and are used by both professional and amateur musicians around the globe. In 1996 he published another do-it-yourself theremin guide. Today, Moog Music is the leading manufacturer of performance-quality theremins.

At the Theremin festival I was also fortunate enough to meet Lydia Kavina, niece of the Russian inventor of the Theremin,Leon Theremin (Lev Sergeyevich Termen). She allowed me to ask her a few questions about musical notation for the Theremin and to take photos of her sheets of music. It’s a fascinating scribbled mess of lines and slashes like nothing I’d ever seen. Really interesting and bizarre stuff and incidentally not something you can just go to down to the local music store and buy.

Why am I telling you this? I have  no idea.

Except maybe to marvel at the power of Google to bring obscure Geekery to the fore. Thank you Google. You just brought back some good geeky memories.

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One thought on “Google, Bob Moog, and a little Theremin instruction booklet.

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience! I have been playing the doodle all day, and this led to a Theramin discussion at work. Fascinating instrument.

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