Mystery Movie Theme

Tonight, I saw “The Simpsons” episode, “Dial ‘N’ For Nerder,” where at the end they had a version of the introduction to NBC’s “Mystery Movie” from the '70s. It brought up something I always wanted to know from wayback when, what is that whistling instrument?

If you need a listen:
Mystery Movie Theme

I’d guess it’s a Moog Synthesiser.


There’s also the possibility that it’s a theremin, which was used in the original The Day The Earth Stood Still as well as many old sci-fi movies from the 50’s and 60’s.

The comments in that YouTube clip suggest that at least one viewer had the same idea.

However, this particular sound is less theremin-electronic and more Moog-musical to my ear, so I won’t push the theremin answer. Just mention it.

I think you are correct, Zeldar, as this site suggests. Pretty melodic when done with some skill.

Incidently, you can find the theme from the video game “Zelda” also on Youtube.

I’d go with theremin because the composer (Henry Mancini) had used it before on the soundtrack for It Came From Outer Space.

Thanks for finding that link.

Would you believe I read this post several times before I caught the joke? :smack:

So now I know the game isn’t the inspiration for your handle!

Probably would have made more sense if I’d remembered to add that the theme to “Zelda” by theremin is on Youtube.

First I encountered it I wanted to run right out and buy a theremin. Looks like fun.

True on the handle. Zeldar was a charatcer I made up for a short story long ago on the Commodore BBS we had locally.

I seem to recall that the theremin is in a class of its own among musical instruments. Where you can put reed instruments together, and brass and percussion and even keyboard, along with other categories with more than one instrument that fits the category, theremin is all alone.

Your basic “air instrument” like “air guitar” and whatever. It may have been a Wiki article on instrument categories, but I’d have to go check, and I’d rather not. :slight_smile:

I’m quite confident it’s not a theremin. They usually have a zizzy hum, not an electronic whistle like in the Mancini theme.

Here is the theme in the original context, the opening credits of the Mystery Movie, this would always freak me out when I was a kid, the ominous man in black coming to get me. And most appropriate it is an episode of Columbo.

Take a look here and the sound is almost identical to the instrument in the theme. The Ondes Martenot is more tuneable than a theremin and thus the clear melody.

Here’s a performance where the fine control of the note via a ring attached to a cable helps control the pitch.