A BBC Science Show Introduces the Moog Synthesizer in 1969

In the fall of 1969, there were still a great many peo­ple who’d nev­er heard a syn­the­siz­er. And even among those who had, few would have known how its unfa­mil­iar sounds were actu­al­ly made. Hence the impor­tance of the seg­ment from the BBC pro­gram Tomor­row’s World above, which intro­duced the Moog syn­the­siz­er (orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed by Robert Moog) to view­ers across Britain. Hav­ing come on the mar­ket four years ear­li­er, it would go on to change the sound of music — a project, in fact, on which it had already made seri­ous inroads, with such Moog show­cas­es as the Doors’ “Strange Days” and Wendy Car­los’ Switched-on Bach hav­ing already become cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na unto them­selves.

Man­fred Mann would also do his part to make an impact with the Moog. Call­ing him “the Moog pio­neer of rock music,” Fideli­ty mag­a­zine’s Hans-Jür­gen Schaal writes that “Mann lent his instru­ment out to be used to pro­duce the first Moog solo on a record by Emer­son Lake & Palmer. He even did the key­board work him­self on the first Moog solo by Uri­ah Heep.”

It is Michael Vick­ers, a mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist vet­er­an of Man­n’s epony­mous band, who demon­strates the Moog for Tomor­row’s World by play­ing a vari­ety of melodies through it on a key­board — though not before plug­ging in a series of patch cords to cre­ate just the right elec­tron­ic sound.

Whether or not the BBC view­ers of 1969 had ever heard any­thing like the Moog before, they almost cer­tain­ly had­n’t seen any­thing like it before. Despite look­ing less like a musi­cal instru­ment than like a piece of mil­i­tary hard­ware, it actu­al­ly rep­re­sent­ed, like most tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments, a step for­ward in ease of use. As pre­sen­ter Derek Coop­er puts it, the Moog “pro­duces sounds in a mat­ter of min­utes which would nor­mal­ly take radio­phon­ic experts with their com­pli­cat­ed equip­ment,” like the BBC’s own Daphne Oram or Delia Der­byshire, “days of work and mul­ti­ple re-record­ings to achieve.” Not that the aver­age hob­by­ist could afford the Moog seen in this broad­cast back then — nor, for that mat­ter, can the aver­age hob­by­ist afford the $35,000 a faith­ful re-cre­ation of it costs now.

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed con­tent:

Bob Moog Demon­strates His Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Moog Mod­el D Syn­the­siz­er

How the Moog Syn­the­siz­er Changed the Sound of Music

Hear Glenn Gould Cel­e­brate the Moog Syn­the­siz­er & Wendy Car­los’ Pio­neer­ing Album Switched-On Bach (1968)

Elec­tron­ic Music Pio­neer Wendy Car­los Demon­strates the Moog Syn­the­siz­er on the BBC (1970)

Dis­cov­er­ing Elec­tron­ic Music: 1983 Doc­u­men­tary Offers a Fun & Edu­ca­tion­al Intro­duc­tion to Elec­tron­ic Music

Thomas Dol­by Explains How a Syn­the­siz­er Works on a Jim Hen­son Kids Show (1989)

Watch Com­pos­er Wendy Car­los Demo an Orig­i­nal Moog Syn­the­siz­er (1989)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.