By John Eaton–friend, colleague & composer
“Working with Bob Moog in his studio – or mine – was always an inspiration, and a joy. I have never met a more pains-taking inventor or generous human being.
To illustrate the second point first, let me describe how I happened to first meet Bob. I was on tour in 1966 in the U.S. with the Syn-Ket, an ingenius early touch-sensitive synthesizer built by Paolo Ketoff of Rome, Italy, when it developed motion sickness and broke down before an important concert in New York. There wasn’t time, nor did I have the resources, to fly back to Italy to have it repaired. In desperation, I called Joel Chadabe, a friend of mine in Albany, now the president of the Electronic Music Foundation, who said that the person in the U.S. most likely to be able to doctor its (at that point) avant-garde circuitry was Robert Moog; and, suggested I take the patient to upper New York State where Bob was living at that time.
After an all-night drive, Bob and Shirleigh, his wife, his family, and even his German Shepard Stockhausen immediately made me feel right at home. He cleared his many pressing demands and took me into his studio where we worked steadily until the wee hours of the following morning, by which time the Syn-Ket was working perfectly. I’m convinced anyone else would have seen this as a rival product and not even touched it. Not so Bob. He studied its complex and very personal circuitry – I still recall the frequent “Ah’s” as he figured it out! Then, not only did he not charge me a cent, but also he gave me a completely different modular unit of his own to learn how to play and to take on my continuing jaunts in my early life as perhaps the first modern Electronic Troubadour.
Almost immediately, we began collaborating (eventually under a research grant from Indiana University then the University of Chicago) on an extraordinary project, the Eaton-Moog Multiple-Touch-Sensitive Keyboard.
Each key, irrespective of all the others, sends out 5 different control voltages depending on:
1.How far it is depressed
2.Where your finger is vertically on the key
3.Where it is horizontally on the key
4.How much area it covers – an idea and contribution solely of Bob’s
5.The pressure you put on a completely depressed key (after-touch)
The work we did on this keyboard will illuminate the first point made above: the pains-taking diligence with which Bob approached each task. Between 1968, when he showed me the first prototype of the key I suggested, and 1989, when he delivered the first complete keyboard, he must have designed 40 or 50 different models, scrapping each one when another break-through in miniaturization, largely inspired by the Space Program, made a new advance possible. I visited him many times and we worked long hours. Always he was responsive to how I felt as a musician and performer – very often our sessions reminded me of a visit to an optician, trying out different lenses until one combination jelled.
I know of no inventor who was more interested in the needs of musicians than Bob. And despite the long hours, it was never a bore to be with him … his great sense of humor ensured that. (More than once I remember both of us rolling around the floor in laughter!)
There was never a more generous human being or pains-taking inventor than Robert Moog. Every day I remember him with joy and miss him!”