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Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer Hardcover – October 30, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0674008892 ISBN-10: 0674008898

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674008898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674008892
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 7.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

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...and Trocco...chronicle the analog synthesizer's early, heady years, from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s...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 Library Journal 2002-11-15)

How many retrowavey, electroclashy hipsters really know the true roots of the sound they're preening and prancing to? We're not talking about '80s swill like Human League or Erasure--we're referring to Robert Moog, the inventor of the eponymous sound-generating device that, more than any other single contraption, made the whole electronic-music world possible. Analog Days, penned by Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco, is a richly detailed look at the early days of synthesized sounds, and is quite fascinating. (Time Out New York 2002-11-14)

On the subject of discovery, Analog Days covers with polished authority the invention of the electronic music synthesizer by Robert Moog and its usage, between 1964 and the mid-'70s by such sonic explorers as Wendy Carlos, the Beatles and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, as well as the work done by electronic music pioneers Morton Subotnik, Don Buchla and Vladimir Ussachevsky, detailing the battle to use or not use the keyboard which so affected popular music. (Brad Schreiber Entertainment Today 2002-11-08)

Pinch and Trocco interview the engineers and musicians who fashioned the new devices, and build up a satisfying picture of the one technology that caught the imagination of the "counterculture" of the 1960s and 1970s...[The authors] have a fascinating story to tell. Today, it is hard to recall what music was like when sounds were restricted to those made by blowing, plucking or hitting things. Music is ubiquitous as never before, and so are synthesized sounds: the two facts go together. So Analog Days is more than a chronicle of an encounter between old arts and new technology: it illuminates a defining technology of our culture. (Jon Turney New Scientist 2003-01-11)

Through a series of detailed interviews with people associated with the Moog's development, ranging from Bob Moog himself to assorted technicians, sound gurus, marketing people and musicians who had input into the Moog's development, they reconstruct, with the care of anthropologists studying the habits of some obscure tribe, how exactly it was that the Moog became a significant force in musical culture in the 1960s. (Marcus Boon The Wire 2003-02-01)

[Pinch and Trocco] have a fascinating story to tell. Today, it is hard to recall what music was like when sounds were restricted to those made by blowing, plucking or hitting things. Music is ubiquitous as never before, and so are synthesized sounds: the two facts go together. So Analog Days is more than a chronicle of an encounter between old arts and new technology: it illuminates a defining technology of our culture. (New Scientist 2003-01-13)

In Analog Days, Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco tell the story of how the Moog synthesizer came about. They discuss how synthesizers reflected and reinforced cultural aspirations for transformation and transcendence, which were so prevalent in the 1960s. And they explore how this particular synthesizer--developed by Robert Moog and colleagues in a funky storefront in Trumansburg, New York...managed to beat out a host of competitors for commercial success and popular acceptance...Pinch and Trocco have crafted an informative and entertaining account of the complex process by which new instruments and inventions come about, and they analyze the relationship among inventor, user, and general public that leads to widespread acceptance of a new medium or tool...The book is crammed with wonderful stories and details about the many colorful scientists, musicians, salesmen, and cult figures...whose lives intersected through the lure of new musical possibilities...This is a story well worth telling, and Pinch and Trocco do it well. (Tod Machover Science 2003-02-21)

A compelling narrative presented in a thoroughly readable style and told with real affection for its subject matter, the book tells the reader pretty much everything they could want to know about the topic, and if it didn't make even the most unmusical reader desperate to get their hands on an analogue synth and a set of patch cords, I'd be very surprised. (Jeremy Gilbert Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2004-01-01)

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I found this book to be incredibly interesting.
Jeffrey McFerson
For anyone interested in "the invention and impact of the Moog synthesizer" (and analog synths in general), this book is a must.
T.G.
Now that I've bought it I can read it at my leisure.
Robert W. Fales

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T.G. on December 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Published by Harvard University Press, this is unquestionably a scholarly and serious work... yet at times it reads almost like a novel. Kudos to Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco for making this material educational, accessible and enjoyable in all the right ways.
As a "serious" collector of Moog LP's (from "Switched on Bach" onward through the late 1970's) with a lot of interest in the history of the Moogs (specifically) and analog synthesizers in general, I found this book to be enlightening in a number of ways, clearing up many things I'd been wondering about. For anyone interested in "the invention and impact of the Moog synthesizer" (and analog synths in general), this book is a must. Highly recommended.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mark D Burgh on May 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the first moment I heard Switched-On Bach, I was hooked. I loved the sounds, the technology, the possibilities of electronic music. I even saved up and bought a Minimoog when I was thirteen; no greater love have I ever had. The early days of electronics shook many people like it did me. The synthesizer was not just a collection of dials and patch cords, but a way into a sonic universe.
Trever Pinch and Frank Trocco's new book, ANALOG DAYS, recaptures that feeling of celestial expectancy. Describing the development of the Moog synthesizer from kit-built theremins to the ubiquitous and glorious Minimoog, the book mainly concentrates on pre-polyphonic modalur synths and how the world embraced them, and then turned them into cheese-making devices a-la "Switched-On Whatever" albums.
Pinch and Trocco give us other ways to look at synths: they discuss women synthesists like Suzanne Ciani who never are mentioned in other histories even though Ms. Ciani's synthesized commercial work is probably the heard electronic music ever. Though Moog-centric, the book gives us the background of the Buchla box, a sort of sprout-and-wheat-germ rival to the Moog modulars. While Moog turned the synthesizer into a keyboard instruments, Buchla kept his machines free of established interfaces, and established musical norms.
As a sythn-freak, I couldn't put this book down, even though much the material is duplicated in Mark Vail's Vintage Synths. Vail, however, choose to be only a technical historian, while Pinch and Trocco aim for a more cultural view of the events surrounding the shifting of musical boundaries.
All your favorites are here; the unexpectedly successful Dr.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Carlin on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An enjoyable read. I've been a Moog enthusiast for many years. Recently I've seen the Video Biography on Robert Moog as well and these complement each other. The enjoyable thing about the book is that is delivers good information on early synth development and there appears to be a division as to how musicians wanted to use these synths. Robert Moog worked closely with musicians who wanted a keyboard trigger and this became a worldwide format, but there was an independent group who wanted a different means of triggering and not so set on a chromatic keyboard format. There is also a very detailed chapter on Wendy (Walter) Carlos. Those that were upset at her absense in the Moog Video Documentary can gain a bit more insight here. This triggered more interest for myself in her recordings.

Overall a very good history book on early synth development and good account of early Moog modular synth Development as well as an extensive chapter on the Minimoog as well. ARP and Buchla also included.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By demomo on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book I've read about the development of the synthesizer, focusing on the interaction between engineers and musicians and also the commercial influences that ended up determining the directions the technology eventually took. The authors let the participants speak in their own words about how and why various developments came about, keeping the story human and realistic. Lots of anecdotes and accurate information, but only enough technical information for the reader to understand what distinguishes one set of developments from another. Moog is the central character, but many others (Buchla, Pearlman, Zinovieff/Cockerell, Wendy Carlos, Keith Emerson, Suzanne Ciani) get their moments as well. One gets the feel of the workshops, the tinkering, the personalities that steered the inventions and discoveries in a way that reminded me (somewhat) of James Gleick's Chaos in that it allows the humanity of the science/technology to show through. The losses of potential that resulted from commercialization and digitalization are dealt with, but not pounded upon. Very direct (one gets the feeling of hanging out with the participants) and readable (fine sense of narrative, the authors let the stories tell themselves without over-dramatizing).

I'd love for these same authors to follow this book up with a more technical history, but as a popular book that touches base with the engineers, musicians, and entrepeneurs who were involved in the creation of synthesizer culture they have done a fantastic job.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Victor Eijkhout on September 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's amazing how distant a past the early years of the synthesizer are. This book is a good reminder that it was not immediately clear that Moog's kind of synthesizer would ultimately win. I had heard of Buchla, but never heard any music made with it. That synth didn't have a keyboard, though it did have a sequencer, and initially it wasn't clear whether that, or Moog's more traditional keyboard orientation was the best idea. Early synthesizers were not even aimed at pop musicians, but at serious composers, or to be used as studio tool. It's also interesting to read how the MiniMoog was invented, and how Bob Moog initially didn't even believe in it. A fascinating read in all, this book.
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