The mission of the Bob Moog Foundation is to “ignite creativity through the intersection of music, science and innovation” and to inspire people of all ages through the genius of Moog’s work, through educational projects such as Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool (DBSS), a 10-week curriculum teaching the science of sound through music; through the Archive Preservation Initiative, which protects and exhibits a vast collection of historic documents and materials found in the Bob Moog Foundation Archives; and through experiences like Dr. Bob’s Workshop, which offers presentations about sound, inventions, and ideas, and Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience, which presents electronic instruments in an educational format. I sat down with executive director Michelle Moog-Koussa to learn more about the Foundation and its current projects.
The Bob Moog Foundation is dedicated to preserving and promoting your father’s legacy. What are some of the ways it does that?
Bob thrived in the process of discovery, and took special delight in sharing what he knew with others. The Bob Moog Foundation celebrates the power of discovery that Bob harnessed in his work through our mission of igniting creativity at the intersection of science, music, and innovation. To fulfill that mission, we offer people of all ages science-based, hands-on experiences to enable their own sense of discovery, unleash their intellectual curiosity, and experience science and art with new eyes (and ears).
You’ve launched an innovative science curriculum for elementary-school children, Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool. Can you tell us more about that project?
Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool is a ten-week experiential curriculum that teaches second graders the science of sound. We use a variety of electronic and acoustic musical instruments, as well as custom educational materials developed by our esteemed educational team. The curriculum helps young children understand vibrations, waveforms, how sound travels, and how sound is heard. Recently, we expanded to almost 60 classrooms in three school districts, with long-range plans to expand beyond our region beginning in 2015.
You’ve shared original schematics on your website. What are some of Bob’a tech innovations that never made it to fruition?
Bob really enjoyed the challenge of meeting the unique needs of his musician customers. As a result, some of the schematics in the archives are for widely released products, while others are for unique, one-off custom components or instruments. Some of the one-off schematics include: Segovia 1 and 2 amplifiers, Antennae Circuit for John Cage, Variable Period Ring Counter for Raymond Scott, Exponential Generator for Gustave Ciamaga, Moogtonium for Max Brand, decoders for Emmanuel Ghent, and Roger Powell’s custom keyboard controller, to name a few.
What would musicians be most surprised to learn about your father?
There is an often preconceived notion that Dad spent all of his free time surrounded by technology and music, that our house was filled with instruments and the latest technological offerings. The truth was that, in the rare moments that he spent outside his workshop, he could more likely be found gardening, hiking, tending to the property on which we lived, and generally enjoying nature.
His appreciation for nature grew from his many years as a Boy Scout, one of the few extracurricular activities that he participated in outside of piano lessons and electronics. More often than not, we lived in a rural setting, being pulled away to one suburban setting or another only due to the demands of shifting corporate dynamics.
When Dad left Moog Music, Inc., then located in Buffalo, NY, in 1978, he and my mother bought nearly 100 acres of land at the end of a long gravel country road. Big Briar Cove was surrounded by mountains, with a gurgling stream running through it. Dad designed our 16-sided round house to be heated by wood, much of which he chopped himself from fallen trees on the property.
Nature provided two things for Dad: both solace and inspiration. Immersing himself in the quiet of the natural world afforded him an aural balance from his work pushing the boundaries of sonic reality. But the richness he found in everything that sprung from the earth inspired him, and he sought a parallel richness and variety in the sounds his instruments created. These sounds became sonic mirrors of the natural world. The result is the robust, organic Moog sound we all know and love.
Bob continues to inspire so many musicians today. How can Electronic Musician readers get involved with the Foundation’s work?
Do something! People can become involved in the following ways:
• Make a financial contribution – Our work is fueled by donations from people all over the world. Be part of our inspiring the future through our innovative educational experiences. Donate at www.bobmoogfoundation.org/donate.
• Donate materials to our archive – We have become a repository of historic materials that trace the evolution of electronic music. We accept donations of schematics, hardware, photos, music, and documentation.
• Become a volunteer – Have a talent or skill that could help us further our mission? Fill out our online volunteer form at bobmoogfoundation.org/dosomething.
• If you’re an Omnisphere™ user, purchase Spectrasonic’s stellar Bob Moog Tribute Library, which features over 800 sounds from 45-plus artists from all over the world. One hundred percent of the purchase price is donated to the Bob Moog Foundation Foundation!
• Connect: Sign up for our eNewsletter (moogfoundation.org), and follow us on FB and Twitter.
• Support us on Amazon Smile. Designate the Bob Moog Foundation as your charity of choice at amazonsmile.com and Amazon will donate a portion of your purchases to us!