Synthesizers and The History of Gestural Control - part 1


I recently completed a 3 year adventure getting a Master's Degree. My field of study was in Synthesizer Gestural Controllers. What are those, you may ask?

Come along with me on a multi-part adventure series going back to the beginnings of electronic music and find out.

This week we look at a somewhat better know piece of gear called "The Theremin". The Theremin was introduced in 1922 by a Russian Inventor, Leon Theremin, who turned out to be a Russian Spy !!!! The Theremin uses heterodyning with is not a kind of date you can go on, but is a form of analog synthesis that uses two supersonic oscillators that can be detuned by the movement of the hand near an antenna, providing continuous pitch movement, much like a violin. There is also another antenna that provides volume control. Neither hand actually touches the antenna but depends on proximity to create differences. 

Many years ago Bob Moog began making Theremins and selling them under the Moog name, and to this day you can still get one from the Moog Website. Attached is a picture of myself with a Moog Theremin signed by the master himself, Bob Moog. I had the honor of meeting and talking to him when he came to Berklee around 1998, when he spoke to a group at the College and then signed the Theremin which is still available for EPD Students to use in pursuit of the degrees.

The Theremin remains a very popular device for performance, but I would like to direct your attention to one of the original virtuoso performers of the time. Clara Rockmore. There is also a movie called "Theremin" that is very good if you more interested in this device. You can also search Theremin on Youtube and see a variety of people playing it.  Here is a classic from Clara, albeit from her at an older age with video. You can also search for older audio but not video.

I hope you enjoy this and will stay tuned for further adventures


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