This Moog guy might be onto something…

Bob Moog’s birthday has recently passed, so I thought that this letter was appropriate to share.  It’s a letter written to trumpet player Jon Hassell by Lloyd Ultan, who was at the time head of the music department at American University.  It was from 1964, when Bob Moog presented his first analogue synth prototypes.

The context was this:  A long time before Jon Hassell was the celebrated artist who developed some very unique trumpet techniques, he had invented a type of blue screen system for video manipulation.  He was working on developing a commercial system for this technology, and trying to “apply the principles of electronic music to the video domain”

  • 16 November,1964

Letter to Jon Hassell
Electronic Music – The Early Years

I had a very interesting experience about one week ago. A gentleman, Mr. Robert Moog, who claims to know of you, visited Washington and demonstrated a compact electronic studio. He claims to be the only man in the country building and designing equipment solely for the creation of electronic music. He was tremendously impressed with your proposals. [For – among other things – applying the principles of electronic music manipulation to the video domain.]

He stated that he would be able to provide much of the equipment called for in those proposals at the same quality or better at considerably less cost. He also demonstrated equipment (in a crude state of development) which could provide great flexibility with extremely simple manipulation involved, almost to the point of being able to improvise an electronic composition – to be recorded or not.

He is going to send me descriptive material and quotations, copies of which I will either forward to you or hold for your interest and considerations.

Lloyd Ultan
Head, Music Department
American University
Washington D. C. 20016