A Musical Prime Number

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If they exist, Gershon Kingsley's 'Popcorn' has to be a musical equality of such a musical prime number. It is an example of a melody you can't resist. Even people who hate the song, have to admit it has a persistant, unbeatable quiality. It is that kind of melody that actually existed forever. You can't verify it, but with a melody like 'Popcorn' you might think that if Gershon Kingsley didn't compose it, someone elase would have.

Gershon Kingsley write the song in the mid-sixties. He was a classical schooled musician, who met Robert Moog on a certain day. The late Robert Moog (he died in August of [2005]), just finished the first synthesizer and Kingsley was interested. Moog showed him the beast - a kind of call centre switchboard run by elephants. Kingsley was sold and bought one of his last three thousand dollars. At that moment, he was one of the first with such a synthesizer, and the first man with a synthesizer AND a studio.

Put a classical schooled composer in a closed space with only a synthesizer with hundreds of knobs. Will he play a song? No, he will turn every knob to search for the craziest sounds and bleeps. As is Gershon Kingsley. He found a funny sound that reminded him of the popping of popcorn. As some kind of alibi to use the sound, he produced some kind of minor tone ladder and called it 'Popcorn'.

The song is more than a melody. 'Popcorn' was also a new sound. The sound that fitted the Apollo era and synthetic space suits. The sound of plastic. There are people who know that the number two is yellow and the number three green. That is called synthesis. If we're talking about sounds, everybody is synthesist. Mabye that's the most important difference between math and music. There are sounds which are experienced as funny and humming tones as menacing.

Not only the melody, but also the timbre and the sounds make music special. Decide the mood of a song. If you hit an A on a piano, you hear the A, but also the first uppernotes Cis and E. And lots more of uppertones. How these upppertones relate to each other, decides the sound of an instrument. The good thing of a Moog synthesizer is that you can decide the color of the sounds in a hundred kind of ways. You can let it sound like a piano, an organ or as an ehm... Moog.

Like the people who love the heavenly sound of the Stradivarius or the Steinway, there are thousands, mostly men, who can't stop talking about the Moog sound, which for the most important part was formed by the legendary Moog ladder filter, which as two important knobs. One you can use to turn on or off the high tones, just like the knob on an simple amplifier to change the treble. Withe the other knob you can resonate the electric circuit, comparable with the resonating chamber of a Stradivarius, or a Steinway. If you play the Moog with one hand and turn the knobs with your other, you can let the Moog "talk" a little, like a guitar player does with a wah-wah-pedal. It can give a nice percussive effect. It can also give a hungry or funny effect.