Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey

For years (at least since high school), I've been fascinated/obsessed with the theremin. I can't even tell you what sparked my initial interest in the instrument. I remember seeing Jon Spencer use one at a concert around 1999 or so, but I'm fairly sure that wasn't my first exposure to this wonderment of electricity. Anyhow, I recently watched the above documentary, and it served to reinforce my interest in the theremin.

The film is great. It starts as a biography of the instrument's inventor, Leon Theremin, then goes into how the instrument has been used over the years. What struck me was that the theremin was conceived and initially used as a legitimate instrument, not merely a novelty (as it's been taken up in American popular culture). Professional theremin players such as Clara Rockmore took the instrument to the concert hall, performing with symphony orchestras and the like. Watching folks like Ms. Rockmore (even in her old age) work the theremin added a whole new dimension to my interest in the instrument. This also made me consider how much the theremin can be made to sound like a violin. At any rate, I highly recommend checking out this documentary. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the trailer on YouTube, but you can view it on the Internet Movie Database here.

Now I need to see the documentary about the Robert Moog and his instrument (he also makes an appearance in the theremin doc).

For years I've been saying "This summer, I'm going to build a theremin." I'm getting a little more serious about it now. I've already started doing research and pricing kits. I will keep you all posted, for sure.

Lastly, given my infatuation with old school video games, I leave you with this gem I found on YouTube.

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