Amen Break and the Golden Ratio
The “Amen Break” is 5.20 seconds long in four bars. It was created and performed by Gregory Cylvester Coleman in the 1960’s funk-and-soul band The Winstons in their song “Amen, Brother”. (They’ve never received royalties from the hundreds of bands which have sampled and used their creation.)
Having looked at the geometry of the Golden Ratio a great deal, and its expressions in worldwide art, I have a decent sense of its place along a line. The Amen Break had that feel. For a quick check I used homemade Golden Ratio calipers to examine the peaks. Indeed, peaks pop up at Golden Ratio intervals, as do smaller peaks within them, reminsicent of the fractal structures in nature.
Human bodies and created sounds, like flowers, crystals and galaxies, can never exactly equal any ideal mathematical template. But the major wave peaks of the Amen Break, and many of its smaller ones, seem reasonably close to being an expression of the fractal nature of the wonderful Golden Ratio. I wonder what it would sound like if it was more precisely proportioned to the ideal, but I also know that slight differences are what make it human and alive.
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