Theremin Fun

Hi all, a little off topic post for you. I’m having a Theremin built for me, and I’m not far off from trying it out. Anyone here with experience with this unique form of analogue synthesis? Would be interested to see other people’s ideas on this.

Read more about the project here.

Very pretty! I toyed with one for a while and although I never actually found a practical use for it I could quite happily sit and play with it for hours at a time; with a combination of phaser and distortion it made some particularly satisfying noises. It would also make one hell of an interesting MIDI controller. :D

(Not sure if it features on any of the listed tracks, but this local band used one on stage to good effect.)

It doesn’t look like that one is sending midi signals, so you would need a frequency translator between the output and a midi controller.

That’s pretty much my experience. Lots of fun to play with, but harder to use with other things, unless you want effects or noise. Probably the hardest instrument I ever played, if you want to actually play the notes of something. That picture looks great though.

Cheers, thanks for your feedback. I think I’ll be exploring the texture side of things with this until I get good enough to wave a melody out of it. I think I will have fun linking it up with a heap of effects.

love it :)

Thanks basil. :)

It is the hardest instrument I’ve played (erm, tried to play…)
Clara Rockmore is one of the few theremin virtuosos:

one of the best songs I’ve heard on a theremin (sounds sooo much creepier than on a violin!):

Notice how she uses discrete finger positions to find the notes? That’s what you have to do to really play these things. Also having perfect (absolute) pitch is probably necessary as well.

Thanks for those links NER, what truly inspiring performances they are. They are indeed hard work to play, nevertheless fun. I wish my Theremax had a little more ‘physical range’ the amplitude antennae - I only get about 14cm out of mine whereas the original Theremin models seem to have much greater range to them. But it’s all a matter of retraining the physical behaviour to suit. Already I’ve been using it in regular jams with friends and each time I’m getting a little better at making melody happen in a context.

I heard somewhere that the way that Rockmore would find the notes was to sing the piece very softly while she performed with the speakers behind her so she could hear the resonance and adjust to it. That she was actually whispering those beautiful performances while she played them on theramine only adds to their creepyness. <3