The Theremin

YouTube is one of the few products of the “Web 2.0” hype that I would consider a true benefit to mankind.  For example, I recently found this wonderful video of Лев Термен playing his own instrument, something I thought I would never see:

The Theremin is one of the first electronic instruments and the only instrument one plays without touching.

Legend has it that his niece, Clara Rockmore, was to become Russia’s next superstar violinist.  By age 5, or so, she started to develop a palsy in her hand that quickly ended her career.  Lev invented the Theremin for her.  Eventually Clara went on to make the instrument famous:

I discovered the Theremin through Carolina Eyck:

Unfortunately, the Theremin is mostly used for melodramatic romantic era classical pieces, over-baked modern crap, terrible c-rated science fiction sound tracks, and wasting time by idiots.  Few have yet to realize its potential in a Baroque ensemble:

They are easy to build and make for a wonderful electronics project.  Just don’t try mocking one up on a protoboard.  After a long weekend and 10 cases of beer, we determined the ambient capacitance between the rails overcame the delicately balanced oscillators.


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