We regularly have guests at our live shows, and one of our recurring guys is a theremin player. I know this is stupid, but you know what - it always sounds like a theremin. There is so little you can do to get it to not sound like the same instrument. It's not like a guitar where you can pluck strum or pick as well as tons of effects that can be applied. Effects on a theremin really do not work. Tonally, stylistically, its just so limiting to have a monophonic instrument where every note is a glissando. Far more than even a trombone.
Its great for a song or two, but its so strongly self defining that its a drawback.
The other thing that annoys me when playing live is that there's an invisible sphere around the instrument and anyone nearing it suddenly detunes it.
On the other hand, playing theremin is so oddly easy after an hour or so that anyone with any musical training can easily play some really lyrical stuff without much effort.
There was a really interesting documentary made about theremins, and the dude who invented it, put out a few years back. It's well worth watching. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108323/
One of my favorite bands, Man or Astroman?, would typically use a theremin at least once during their live performances. The dude would even set it on fire using lighter fluid while playing. Fun stuff.
Almost forgot... cool video, Legomancer.
Last edited Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:04 pm (Total Number of Edits: 3)
You just have not heard the right person play one... if you only listen to Clara Rockmore or rock acts that incorporate them in a few tunes for effect I am sure you might feel that way. I've seen Theremin only ensembles, art rock, noise and Free Jazz acts with a Theremin player and it was not at all like you describe - at least as a generalization because they often use it as an input to another device like a digital effects processor or a modular synth... one act I saw had a woman playing an optical Theremin using visible lasers in the air like plucked strings, output to effects processor and eight different amplifiers that cycled - it sounded like a koto trapped in a tornado - accompanied by acoustic bass and an ecstatic drummer... it was amazing.
Check out the Lothars MP3 player on this page (saw this guys a year ago, often three Theremin and a drummer):
because they often use it as an input to another device like a digital effects processor or a modular synth...
Those are MIDI theremin. That's a different technology. It's like the difference between synthesizers and pianos. Same concept, different actualization of the sound. We use a MIDI theremin on a few of our recordings because they are far more versatile. I'm just talking about a standard theremin.
No, not always, can be pure analog... into a modular synth like pictured above... or an analog Theremin into a digital effects processor, like my friend did with one of those BOSS pedal pad processors with a Wah pedal, delay, distortion, etc.
Yes, I am sure the laser one was MIDI. Probably the only example that I've seen out of many.
Check out the Lothars. Listen, but also check out the pictures, those are your standard analog Bob Moog Theremins that you always see... not MIDI.
Last edited Tue Jun 12, 2007 4:14 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)