Tenor saxophonist, keyboardist, and composer Eddie Harris (1934-96) was a pioneer in the realm of instrumental innovation as well as an accomplished performer. Having recorded Exodus to Jazz, the first gold-selling jazz album, Harris took to the electric saxophone and piano, which imbued his 1967 album The Electrifying Eddie Harris with elements of funk as well as rhythm and blues. Throughout the 1970s Harris experimented with novel combinations of acoustic instrumental technologies, including the reed trumpet, the “saxobone,” and the “guitorgan.” His collaboration with Bob Moog extended this tendency by bringing Harris’s saxophone and Moog’s signal-processing technologies into intimate contact. In 1978 Bob designed a custom attachment for Harris and provided him with detailed instructions on how manipulating its controls would transform the sound of his saxophone. He also made notes on a demo tape recorded by Harris using the attachment in conjunction with two contrasting transducers.
The Eddie Harris Attachment is significant insofar as it reveals Bob’s abiding interest not only in reaching a mass market, but in working with individual musicians such as Harris, Wendy Carlos, and Keith Emerson to realize novel, customized sounds that responded to their artistic demands. It also shows how the Moog’s application of technologies associated with synthesis could move beyond both the keyboard and the scope of purely electronic sonic production by engaging with other sources of sound, thereby entering the world of electro-acoustic music. Tellingly, however, Bob emphasized to Harris that “the attachment will perform best with well-defined attacks and ‘clean’ tones,” i.e. with acoustic input that closely approximated the characteristics of synthesized sound.
Robert Moog. Technical specs of the Eddie Harris Attachment, 1978. (1 image)
Robert Moog. Photographs of the Eddie Harris Attachment, 1978. (6 images)
Robert Moog. User Instructions for Eddie Harris Attachment. March 10, 1978. (2 images)
Bob provided five pages of instructions for Eddie Harris. After describing the function of each control, the document describes the process of setting up the unit and offers seven examples for configuring it that respond to Harris’s playing in different ways.
Big Briar, Inc. Invoices to Eddie Harris. April 23, 1982. (3 images)
Bob’s company in the 1980s, Big Briar, produced two versions of the Eddie Harris Attachment, which the saxophonist clearly put to good use while performing. By 1982 both attachments were in need of significant repairs: he returned them to Bob for that purpose and was provided with an invoice for $365.08 ($937.10 in 2019 US dollars), which Harris paid in ever-decreasing installments.
Brian McMillen [Photographer]. Eddie Harris at Keystone Korner. San Francisco, 1980. (1 image)
This photograph shows Harris on stage with his Moog equipment.
Courtesy of Brian McMillen at brianmcmillenphotography.com
Robert Moog. Comments on Eddie Harris Attachment Demonstration Tape. March 14, 1978. (1 image)
In this document, Bob explains how a tape was recorded of Eddie Harris’s playing that enables the listener to switch between the sound of his saxophone before and after it had passed through the attachment.
Robert Moog. Design Schematics for the Eddie Harris attachment, ca. 1978. (3 images)
In 1978 Bob designed a custom attachment for Harris and provided him with detailed instructions on how manipulating its controls would transform the sound of his saxophone. The Eddie Harris Attachment is significant insofar as it reveals Bob’s abiding interest not only in reaching a mass market, but in working with individual musicians.
Vinyl Records. Shown here are record albums by Eddie Harris. (1 image)
These copies are from Bob’s personal record collection.