Polymoog Example: In the Hall of the Star King

The Polymoog is an amazing sounding and fully polyphonic synthesizer that was created by my father, David A. Luce, for Moog Music Inc in the mid 1970s. Click on this link to read about the Instrument.

The sonic adventure described here began while I was conducting research for a biography of my father’s work (currently in process). Shortly after my father’s passing, I connected with synthesizer restorationist Jareth Lackey, who, it turns out, first developed his career by learning how to restore Polymoogs, and is likely the most experienced and capable Polymoog restorationist in the world. It also turned out that Jareth had provided Polymoog samples for the development of a virtual (sample based) Polymoog clone developed by Steve Porter at SynthMagic. The first version of this was called “The LUCEIFER:”

The LUCEIFER virtual Polymoog (a prototype of the Polycom, no longer publicaly available)

This instrument eventually evolved into the “Polycom” package, which is now available from the company SynthMagic:

Control panel for the Polycom virtual Polymoog, by SynthMagic.

I obtained this package, and was immediately extremely impressed by its sound, so much so in fact that I improvised much of an entire album with it in just a day or two of very inspired playing. The recording was formally released on April 15, 2019 on the second anniversary of my father’s passing. Each track was done with a single take, one a single track. Some of these tracks utilize old melodies of my that I was trying out the Polycom’s sounds with, although they came out quite a bit more embellished and/or varied than in their normal basic form.

Replicant’s Dream

I think of this composition as evoking the dream of a replicant (a synthetic human being – see the movie Bladerunner for more about what I mean by this here), who dreams of lying in a field next to a beloved, with billowing clouds passing endlessly overhead, free for the moment at least of the suffering associated with being a synthetic human slave.

In the Hall of the Star King

I think of this composition as evoking the grandeur of the shatteringly beautiful nebulae scattered throughout our galaxy and the Universe, the birthplace of stars and the foundation of life. The title makes reference to Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Synchronize or Die

I think of this composition as evoking the ubiquitous phenomenon of synchronization in our Universe, from biological to celestial, and the pressure we experience daily to remain in synch or perish.

Ice Rings of Saturn

I think of this composition as evoking the ice rings of Saturn, one of the most beautiful and mysterious celestial features in our solar system. This piece is a good example of using clusters of notes.

Across the Methane Sea

I think of this composition as evoking a surreal experience of passing over one of the vast seas of methane on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in a spacecraft.

Electron Mass

I think of this composition, the name of which is a pun on the word “mass,” as evoking the profound mystery of the relationship between physics and being (consciousness). The initial theme here is one I improvised in college when first encountering a sampler keyboard with a human voice, and then later trascribed the recording.