In music there have been many electronic instruments that have changed the way of performing and writing music, but few come in to focus like the Theremin. The reason it stands out is that you actually play the instruments AND rests. The instruments’ operation requires zero contact. That means that you never touch the instrument to actually perform. Here is a brief on what this is and how it works via Wiki:
The theremin therr-ə-min; originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox) is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after the Westernized name of its Russian inventor, Léon Theremin , who patented the device in 1928.
The instrument’s controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and controloscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker or amplifier.
Sounds straight forward… lets see it in motion. Here is an example from a trained performer Carolina Eyck who uses this with many Symphonies around the globe just for our understanding:
The video really goes into depth about how to actually use these types of instruments. This does require extensive practice to get comfortable. There have been some great performances with this instrument in many genres music out there. The sound is undeniable and has been featured over many sci-fi scores over the last several decades such as Miklós Rózsa‘s Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, and Bernard Herrmann‘s The Day the Earth Stood Still. It has also been used in theme songs for television shows such as the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. This has led to its association with eerie situations. Theremins are also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music) and in popular music genres such as rock. Here a couple of examples that I thought were very cool:
A great example of this in EDM (Electronic dance music) by DJ Manifesto. Here is another example from the Lund Quartet playing their song “Lonn” featuring the Theremin:
Very modern sounding. Here is a classic Tim Burton score re-created live using the same instruments that were recorded in the studio.
This unusual and complicated instrument definitely defined itself right from the start and continues to have a place in any style of music. We hope you enjoyed today’s article. Be sure to check out our Pro Audio Effects at Ant Hill Music. As Always, play well and play on!