Other Equipment

Theremin as bass guitar!


Nifty! I didn't know one could exercise that much control over a theremin. Thanks for sharing, Sandy!


I got one. That girl is freakin awesome! I've got a long way to go!!


The only instrument I can play without touching it is the iPod.

She's amazing. Everything I've heard on a theremin sounds kind of like the Star Trek theme.

Paul - looking forward to hearing Spaghetti No Sauce on one.


Wow, that was amazing. I didn't know it could be played that way either.


I didn't know they could be played that precisely. It does look kinda strange though - like air bass or something.


this flew over my head at 35,000 feet , , time to google theremin


That was amazing. I toyed with the idea of buying a theremin once. Films like this just keep sparking my curiosity even more.

Thanks for posting the link.




I've been a theremin nut for several years. Yes, they can be played with extreme precision, but three things are required to play a theremin as a true instrument.

1) a good quality theremin is a MUST. There are plenty of cheap kits out there, and cheap pre-built models. These are usually not good for much more than sound effects though. Quality discrete RF components are essential to tone stability in theremin design, and most of the lower-priced models tend to skimp on essential quality components. The Moog theremin is probably the best "go-to" model that is readily available, and is an excellent place to start. However, most professional thereminists will either find a vintage RCA tube model or have a theremin built to custom specs... either proposition can be quite expensive.

2) Once you have a quality instrument, it must be set up properly to respond to your playing style. By that I mean that the volume and pitch aerial circuits must be calibrated to where you achieve the same volume level or pitch at the exact same distance increment each time your hand approaches the aerial. For example, setting the controls so that a 2-inch hand-aerial distance achieves a 50% volume attenuation EVERY time. This can be quite difficult to achieve, as external environmental factors such as temperature and humidity can cause significant signal drift.

3) "Perfect pitch" is not necessarily a "must", but helps tremendously, because you have no tactile/visual reference (such as frets, keys or valves) when playing a theremin. As a result, you need to know what distances will produce certain pitches (or notes) when approaching the pitch aerial. For this reason, estimating the proper distance and then "sliding" into the note in glissando fashion is the most common method of finding the correct pitch. Then, there is the coordination of volume with pitch, which is probably the most difficult to achieve.

Theremin can be lots of fun, but it can be incredibly frustrating for the passing user who is not dedicated to spending the hours necessary to master the instrument.

If you want to see some true theremin prodigies at work, google the following people:
Clara Rockmore
Lydia Kavina
Dr. Samuel Hoffman


Tartan, thanks for that post, thats very informative about whats involved in playing one. sounds a bit daunting.

with as much fretless work i do in the Indian/Middle Eastern music spheres, it would be interesting (and quite possible) to apply the theremin to those areas.

The other interesting thing that Pamelia is able to achieve is in the tone... she got a great violin tone in the opening of that clip, and then made it sound very close to an upright. It never sounded like a bad science fiction movie, and thats crucial IMO to make the theremin work. You have to overcome the Beach Boys/ bad Sci fi meme that the instrument is saddled with -- it cant sound like a novelty.

that, and the learning curve, are the two things that have kept me away from pursuing it, though i have considered it now and then,as i could see it fitting into what I do.


just did a theremin track for a silent movie. Wow that was hard!!!

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