Saturday, January 9, 2010

My hero / Bob Moog by Don Paterson



My hero Bob Moog

Don Paterson
Saturday 9 January 2010


B
ob Moog had a great name, which seemed to fit his machines almost as well as Mr Hoover's did his. (He never convinced anyone to pronounce it correctly: it rhymes with rogue.) He was also as far from the public image of "Dr Moog", the lab-coated evil genius and destroyer of human music, as it was possible to get: a sweet, patient, articulate man who saw himself purely as a toolmaker, determined to narrow, not widen, the gap between the player and the instrument.


As important as recordings such as Wendy Carlos's Switched-on Bach were in bringing Moog's synthesizer to the wider public, these early excursions now sound pretty dated. What remain as fresh as ever are the timelessly gorgeous sounds themselves, which have been so thoroughly assimilated into the soundscape of contemporary music that Moog's influence is much too deep to be quantified. Hans Fjellestad's documentary, Moog, saw the good doctor dragged all over the planet, mainly so musicians from every generation could tell him how much they owed him. His bemused humility was genuine, touching and an object lesson in how to take a fat compliment.
More than any 20th-century inventor you could name, Moog warmed up the wires and humanised the machine. He was a spiritual man who believed in nothing but material, though he treated matter as a form of energy (which of course it is), one we barely understand. As for his idea that all matter has a residual consciousness . . . well – beyond the hard-won lesson that if you don't love machines, they won't love you back – I'm sceptical. But not only did Moog elaborate this idea with great intellectual sophistication (his wife was a professor in the philosophy of religion), he set about proving it, up to his elbows in Bessel functions and Fourier transforms and circuitboards. His respect for material allowed him to draw the most beautiful sounds out of the ether; in doing so, Bob Moog simply increased the human expressive range. Some toolmaker.



2009
001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self


2010
013 My hero / Bob Moog by Don Paterson
014 My Hero / Sebastian Walker by Julie Myerson 
036 My hero / Rober Lowell by Jonathan Raban (Kiss)
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford (Kiss)
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

Patti Smith by Joseph O'Connor

2011
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
095 My hero / Les Murray by Daljit Nagra (Kiss)
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
100 My hero / Tomas Tranströmer  (Kiss)

2012
120 My hero / Graham Greene by Richard Holloway
134 My hero / Homer by Madeline Miller
146 My hero / Roald Dahl by Michael Rosen 


2013
167 My hero / Oliver Sacks by Hilary Mantel
169 My hero / Jean Rhys by Linda Grant
176 My hero / Mae West by Kathy Lette
181 My hero / Lydia Davis by Ali Smith
184 My hero / Louise Bourgeois by Tracey Emin
185 My hero / Albert Camus by David Constantine
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson

2014
211 My hero / Mavis Gallant by Jhumpa Lahiri and Michael Ondaatje
227 My hero / Salman Rushdie by Antonia Fraser
233 My hero / Robin Williams by Anne Fine



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