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The Bermuda Triangle

A Science Fiction story in sound by Isao Tomita


Recorded on RCA Red Seal RL 12885 and based on the music of Prokofiev, Sibelius and John WiIIiams.

Tomita: The arrival of a UFO. A storm rages in the ocean near Bermuda - the area of mysterious disappearances of many ships and aircraft, the dreaded Devil's Triangle. In the midst of the storm a UFO approaches from the sky guided by an eerie signal below the water. Sea waves and wind of white noise announce a deep note and moving wind resonances, followed by sounds inside the nearing UFO - a computer message is briefly transmitted over the spaceship's buzz and gentle oscillator ripples. Strange voices talk in filtered snatches, and then the seascape returns.


Prokofiev's 'Romeo & Juliet' Suite No. 2. The silvery twinkling lights of the UFO move closer and the vessel descends through a failing polyphonic cluster across the stereo field. Panned bubbling notes over sustained vibrations float into the sea's roar, and intensified organistic sounds create one of Tomita's stunning momentary silences.


We gently fade into Sibelius' 'Valse Triste' with sustained string chords and layered Novatron voices with quasi-tape reversal effect bringing a rich reverberating organ chord that turns into a dry tremolo fade. Stereo strings wash the sound away and the melody takes on a voice-like quality at centre, whilst high-pitched oscillations sweep gently upwards left and right. A new sound floats in and fades out with the other sounds.


Prokofiev: Scythian Suite - The Adoration of Veles and Ala. At the bottom of the ocean, strange swimming creatures emit eerie cackles round a huge pyramid structure. [From this Tomita takes his idea of a sound system that is four dimensional.] A super-civilised race of ancient people entombed inside have made contact with the UFO from outer space. Bells and high-pitched glockenspiel notes jump onto Prokofievs music, and brass interjections lead to a swirling ritualistic theme with its electronic adulation and grandeur increased by synthesised timpani and strings. The organ takes over amidst the slow bubbling and continued noise swirls to repeat ring modulated chords that sink into the Deep.


The typical filtered Moog sound used by Tomita calls out over slow moving parallel augmented 4ths and a happy conversation begins between visitors and pyramid people. Strings bounce their ideas about and the music takes on a more concerned tone, with moving bass notes and a repeating 4-note motive using triangle wave with portamento.


The 'Adoration' theme is reflected on briefly and as sequences gently flow, two rich brass notes close the conversations on interesting ring modulated failing harmonies. A peaceful calm is felt as we wait for the space creatures to enter the pyramid.


John Williams: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A fantastic sustained crescendo transmits the visitors through a huge beam of fluorescent light to the pyramid entrance. Vibrations surround them and suddenly John Williams' recognisable theme: C'-D'- Bb'-Bb-F communicates, first by a filtered 'wah' piano sound, echoed by snorts from the UFO, and then the space creatures tiny vocoded snatches.


The pitch moves to A-B-G-G-D and the snorts jokingly pick Debussy's 'Golliwogs Cake-Walk' amidst laughs, before dropping pitch back to key Bb.


Greetings over, polyglides upwards create a sensuous start for a portamento-treated whistling triangle wave melody, bringing Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 (Second Movement). Organ chords establish a climax and tremolo fade again that's exchanged for choral sounds. Three percussive chords announce a bright lively theme as the space children step into the underground pyramid - the kingdom of Agharta. Use of slow 'Leslie' rotation gives a nice movement to the counterpoint, and oboe, brass and strings are synthesised imaginatively. Percussion and brass punch at the rhythmic ideas and voices echo in friendly discussion.


Great depth is effected by careful choice of individual dry and increasingly reverberated melodic lines, as well as exciting dynamic changes.


Back come the percussive chord taps and a slowing of tempo for a grand organ theme played ff. Fast computerised note runs swirl left and right as a brass melody is heard. Strings take their turn and as the music literally bounces quickly along, a tight, reedy solo with tambourine accompaniment leads to more involved counterpoint and a bell/voice sounds fade on each side in stereo.


Tomita provides his own impressionistic music (entitled 'Dororo') that recapitulates the 'Encounters' theme, with whistling sounds and sustained bass following. A beautiful brass fanfare (with pitch fall during EG release) echoes at different positions over a slow phased string note cluster, deep bass, and twinkling 'lights' of the spaceship as it takes both visitors and pyramid people on a grand tour of the Earth. Out of the depths it rises, hovering above the blue green ice cold waves.



Side 2.


Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 (First Movement - Andantino). The atmosphere of the sea sets the background for a favourite Tomita sound, the filtered triangle wave with a touch of portamento, and high harmonic arpeggios bubble downwards. Other sounds join in to create a superbly graceful image of the UFO flying over the ocean, climbing higher and higher towards the upper regions.


An interesting melody with trills takes us to the clouds as dawn breaks over the Triangle. Strings and chorus float us through the stratosphere as a horn plays Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6 (First Movement) theme.


The space visitors view the distant earth with captivation and wonder, and flute-like melodies echo mysterious electric waves in anticipation of a computer communication. [Here is the second coded output that is a message programmed with a Tarbel System computer.]


Failing flute sounds herald a deep modulated bell timbre. Strings immediately lift the music along as the cylinder containing the coded data is ejected into the earth's atmosphere and spins downwards, dazzling in the Sun's rays, until it finally impacts itself in Tunguska, Siberia.


A rallentando has whistling, bubbling strings and a strong bass tuba melody. Arpeggios lead into a swirling panned high pitched accompaniment for bass tuba and whistle in counterpoint. Voices and piano chords call out from different parts of the globe (across the stereo field) while phased sounds predominate. A rich melodic line on strings arid voices leads to a sudden explosion as the cylinder crashes into the Siberian tundra. A second explosion follows as it sends up a fantastic display of flares to signal its position. Phased music sweeps the UFO on its journey around the Earth, gathering information for both visitors and pyramid people.


Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 (Third Movement) takes us inside the spaceship where celebrations at the cylinder's landing have taken place, and a plaintiff horn melody has pizzicato bass and distant sounds that eventually become choral. Tomita contributes some composing again, with echoed transposer/harmoniser short notes that bring a UFO 'horn' melody reverberating heavily, then a whistling synth represents the space children's voices accompanied by the harps of the ancient people.


The soundscape provides another of Tomita's enchanting musical images that dances with the movements of the spaceship. A central synthesiser melody passes to strident organ tones and back. Fast microcomposer runs bring in the voice/whistle, whilst strings enter to accompany as well. The music reaches a peak and soon it will be time for the space visitors to leave. The UFO 'horn' blasts its farewell notes again, making its strong counterpoint with strings and glockenspiel. Tomita: Departure of the UFO/Prokofiev: Scythian Suite. Amidst central whistling synth melody arid stereo arpeggio transpositions. a slow sine modulated note and string passages take the ancient people back safely to their pyramid kingdom.


The surging of the sea below the UFO is gradually diminished by the growing power of the spacecraft, as it finally soars upwards. A huge whirling, bubbling cluster of notes is rotated inside the craft. rising higher and higher into space - towards the 1448 Nebular Group of the Bootes. From deep in the ocean comes strange transmitted cackles of farewell. Floating in hyperspace, the gentle vocal /orchestral fantasy diminuendos to a last whispered message as Yamamoto's vocoder treated noise slowly echoes its ciphers away...



Equipment used for Bermuda Triangle



Moog Ill p

Moog System 55

Poly Moog

Scale Programmer 950-B

Bode Ring Modulator 6401

Bode Frequency Shifter 1630



System 700

Strings RS-202

Revo 30

Stereo Phaser PH-830



Roland Micro Composer MC-8



2 Victor SEA-7070

Roland GE-810

Roland GE 820


MIXERS Quad/Eight Compumix (24 ch)

3 TEAC Model 1 (8 ch)

5 TEAC Model 3 (8 ch)



Ampex MM-1 100 (16 tracks)

Ampex AG-440 (4 tracks)

TEAC 90-16 (16 tracks)

2 TEAC 80-8 (8 tracks)

TEAC A 3340S (4 tracks)

TEAC 704OGSI (2 tracks)

Sony TC-9040 (4 tracks)


dbx 187



AKG BX20E Echo Unit

AKG 13X10 Echo Unit


Roland RV-800 Stereo Reverb

Korg Vocoder

Binson Echorec 2

Roland Space Echo RE 201

Eventide Clockworks "Instant Phaser"

Eventide Clockworks "Instant Flanger"

Eventide Clockworks

Fender 'Dimention IV'

Fender Electronic Piano

Hohner Clavinet C


Leslie Speaker Model 147


E&MM (Electronics and Music Maker) magazine, February 1983


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