The Theremin [ˈθɛɹəmɪn], (also thereminvox or aetherphone) is one of the first fully electronic musical instruments. It was invented by Russian inventor Léon Theremin in October 1920 after the outbreak of the Russian civil war. Its invention grew out of a search for ways to detect movement. It was the first musical instrument to be played without being touched. The control section has two metal antennae to sense the positions of the player's hands. One hand controls the pitch. The other hand controls the volume. To play the theremin, the player moves his hands around the two metal antennas. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.
The sound of the theremin is associated with "alien," surreal, and eerie-sounding portamento, glissando, tremolo, and vibrato sounds. It has been used in film soundtracks such as Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks! and The Day the Earth Stood Still. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop used the theramin to provide the electronic sounds in demand in the mid-century. Theremins are also used in art music (especially avant-garde and 20th century "new music") and in popular music genres such as rock and pop. The Russian Dmitri Shostakovich was one of the first to include parts for the theremin in orchestral pieces, including a use in his score for the 1931 film Odna.
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- oddmusic.com theremin page
- TECI: Theremin Enthusiasts Club International
- Theremin.info Archived 2007-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Clara Rockmore playing "The Swan" (Saint-Saëns)
- Dr. Samuel Hoffman, Hollywood's premiere thereminist
- Art's Theremin Page Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine: Complete construction plans for solid state and vacuum tube theremins