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Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

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Though ubiquitous today, available as a single microchip and found in any electronic device requiring sound, the synthesizer when it first appeared was truly revolutionary. Something radically new—an extraordinary rarity in musical culture—it was an instrument that used a genuinely new source of sound: electronics. How this came to be—how an engineering student at Cornell and an avant-garde musician working out of a storefront in California set this revolution in motion—is the story told for the first time in ...

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ANALOG DAYS

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Overview

Though ubiquitous today, available as a single microchip and found in any electronic device requiring sound, the synthesizer when it first appeared was truly revolutionary. Something radically new—an extraordinary rarity in musical culture—it was an instrument that used a genuinely new source of sound: electronics. How this came to be—how an engineering student at Cornell and an avant-garde musician working out of a storefront in California set this revolution in motion—is the story told for the first time in Analog Days, a book that explores the invention of the synthesizer and its impact on popular culture.

The authors take us back to the heady days of the 1960s and early 1970s, when the technology was analog, the synthesizer was an experimental instrument, and synthesizer concerts could and did turn into happenings. Interviews with the pioneers who determined what the synthesizer would be and how it would be used—from inventors Robert Moog and Don Buchla to musicians like Brian Eno, Pete Townshend, and Keith Emerson—recapture their visions of the future of electronic music and a new world of sound.

Tracing the development of the Moog synthesizer from its initial conception to its ascension to stardom in Switched-On Bach, from its contribution to the San Francisco psychedelic sound, to its wholesale adoption by the worlds of film and advertising, Analog Days conveys the excitement, uncertainties, and unexpected consequences of a new technology that would provide the soundtrack for a critical chapter of our cultural history.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Robert Moog's moment of revelation came in 1964 when he and a colleague realized the acoustic possibilities of a pair of voltage-controlled oscillators. "It was my turn for my head to blow," he recalls in Analog Days by Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco (Harvard), a history of the Moog synthesizer. Electronic sound had, until then, been the province of the classical avant-garde, but the Moog came to dominate the counterculture—so much so that Mick Jagger hired one of Moog's staffers in 1968 to teach him how to play it.

Most musical instruments have less definite birth dates. The clavichord probably developed from precursors like the monochord and the psaltery sometime in the fifteenth century, but no one knows exactly how. Bernard Brauchli's The Clavichord (Cambridge) exhaustively charts the instrument's four-century career until its decline, in the mid-nineteenth century, when its extreme quietness put it at a disadvantage against the early piano. While music historians tend to dismiss the clavichord as a curio, Brauchli shows that it was crucial to music-making in intimate domestic settings and capable of expressive effects, like vibrato, impossible on other keyboard instruments.

A domestic ethos of a rather different kind influenced the rise of the Victorian reed organs celebrated in Manufacturing the Muse, by Dennis G. Waring (Wesleyan). Cheaper than a piano, these parlor organs appealed to the aspirations of the growing American middle class. Waring focusses on the Estey company of Vermont, whose instruments graced hundreds of thousands of drawing rooms, parlors, and churches. An accompanying CD showcases a dozen surviving instruments warbling such Victorian favorites as "Oh! Susanna" and "The Last Rose of Summer."

(Leo Carey)
Library Journal
The sleek digital synthesizer of today is so easy to play and so ubiquitous in the world of popular music that its presence is often taken for granted. In this well-researched, entertaining, and immensely readable book, Pinch (science & technology, Cornell Univ.) and Trocco (Lesley Univ., U.K.) chronicle the analog synthesizer's early, heady years, from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. The authors give preeminent pioneer Robert Moog due prominence, but they also chart the achievements of other luminaries from this era, such as rival inventors Donald Buchla and Alan Perlman, composers Wendy Carlos and Pauline Oliveras, and rock stars Keith Emerson and Mick Jagger. American readers will be interested to learn details of a lesser-known British entry in the analog synthesizer field-the VCS3-which became the preferred tool of many rock stars of the 1970s. The authors are especially effective in exploring the cultural, sociological, and economic sides to the synthesizer revolution. Throughout, their prose is engagingly anecdotal and accessible, and readers are never asked to wade through dense, technological jargon. Yet there are enough details to enlighten those trying to understand this multidisciplinary field of music, acoustics, physics, and electronics. Highly recommended.-Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674008892
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Trevor Pinch is Professor and Chairperson of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University.

Frank Trocco is Assistant Professor of Adult Baccalaureate Studies, Lesley University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Sculpting Sound 1
1 Subterranean Homesick Blues 12
2 Buchla's Box 32
3 Shaping the Synthesizer 53
4 The Funky Factory in Trumansburg 70
5 Haight-Ashbury's Psychedelic Sound 89
6 An Odd Couple in the Summer of Love 107
7 Switched-On Bach 131
8 In Love with a Machine 155
9 Music of My Mind 171
10 Live! 187
11 Hard-Wired - the Minimoog 214
12 Inventing the Market 237
13 Close Encounters with the ARP 257
14 From Daleks to the Dark Side of the Moon 276
Conclusion: Performance 302
Discography 325
Sources 330
Notes 332
Illustration Credits 354
Glossary 355
Index 359
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Do not buy the ebook edition.

    Do not buy the ebook of this. First of all, it costs MORE THAN THE PAPERBACK. Second of all, the illustrations are omitted, but the ebook helpfully tells the reader to "refer to the print edition."

    I'm glad I got the free preview!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2014

    The ground

    is covered with black momnas, to the point where you cant destinguish one from another.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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