Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Theremin: Music of the Ether

Albert Glinsky biographer of Theremin had some bits to share on Christopher Lydon’s Open Source Radio show. Show includes music, and interviews with thereminists. Dapper Christopher cannot help but break up theremenist Pamelia Kurstein into charming giggles upon giggles.

Said Glinsky of the discovery .. Originally he was actually in a Soviet Laboratory about 1919. He was building a meter to measure gas density. And he put on some headphones and decided he would add a whistling tone that would change based on the density of the gas.

As he brought his hand closer to the device, the effect was like that which you can have today with an old rabbit ear antennae TV where the picture reception goes in and out as you assume different positions in the room. Based on your position in an electromagnetic field.

Now I'd heard that he was just listening to vaccuum tubes one day. Playing with the voltages or some similar.

Then he built an instrument just to make sounds. Started with a pedal and antenna. Then went to one vertical and one horizontal antennae.

They discuss the quality of the sound of the theremin .. noir, surreal narrative, vibrato, space exploration, drugged up, outside of time, high smaltz; portamento, little glissandos. The theremoan .. I guess I'd say it is like a violin on electricity.


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