Synth pioneer Bob Moog’s archives to open at Cornell University.

The output of one of electronic music’s true visionaries is about to get an official home. On March 5th, synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog’s personal archives will officially open at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. 

Cornell will celebrate the new archive with the event “When Machines Rock: A Celebration of Robert Moog and Electronic Music”, which runs from March 5th to the 7th. Fellow engineers, synth enthusiasts, and electronic music icons will celebrate Moog with several days of panels, concerts, and lectures. Among the electronic music luminaries will be Suzanne Ciani, Gary Numan, ADULT, as well as talks by Moog synth co-creator Herb Deutsch and Moog engineer Steve Dunnington. Experimental beat-maker Suzi Analogue and the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center will also perform. 

Much like Moogfest, which was cancelled this year, “When Machines Rock” will feature a synth building workshop this Saturday. The workshop will be led by Trevor Pinch, a musician and former chair of the Science and Technology Studies department at Cornell University, and Jordan Aceto. 

The decision to house Moog’s archives at Cornell makes perfect sense. A year after unveiling his first eponymous synth, the Modular 55 System, in 1964, Moog earned a PhD in engineering physics from Cornell. Moog debuted the Modular 55 at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York. Unlike the first major modular system, the RCA Synthesizer, Moog’s Modular 55 featured a keyboard, which quickly brought it to the attention of musicians such as The Beatles, The Monkees, and Wendy Carlos. Carlos, then a Columbia University student, suggested various improvements to the system, and later went on to release the seminal electronic albums Switched On Bach and The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, before scoring Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.   

Moog’s personal archive of notes, plans, drawings and recordings, which had been preserved in Asheville, North Carolina (home of the Moog factory) by the Bob Moog Foundation, will now be housed in the Cornell University Library’s Rare and Manuscript Collections. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome this donation to Cornell, and we look forward to welcoming researchers from all over the world who hope to learn more about Dr. Moog’s life and work, ” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “We pride ourselves on not only preserving valuable historical knowledge but providing access to one-of-a-kind, original materials to as many people as possible.”

4th March, 2020

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