Music Production Knowledge

A theremin is an electronic musical instrument that the performer can control without the need of touching it. Its name comes from its creator Leon Theremin, the man who patented it back in 1928. This is a very curious instrument that consists of two metal antennas that can sense your hand’s relative position. As a result, they control the oscillators and the amplitude that processes it and then sends it to a loudspeaker. In contemporary times, the theremin is popular in various movie soundtracks and TV shows, as well as in concert and popular music.

Theremin: Its History

Theremin created this artifact for the Soviet Government, specifically for a project that researching proximity sensors. He moved to the United States with the intention to patent his design and to try to commercialize it. However, he did not stay there: he began to perform in concert shows around the country. Rumor has it that, after a couple of years, the Soviet Union took Theremin from his apartment in New York and back to his country, where he spent 30 years in a prison camp lab.

In the meantime, in the United States, the theremin had fallen into disuse due to the introduction of new electronic instruments. Not only that, but also these were easier to play. Regardless, there was still a crowd that persisted. In this crowd of enthusiasts was Rober Moog. Later, this man began building theremins in the 50s and preparing kits for customers to assemble. After that, with the help of Raymond Scoot, an electronic music pioneer, came the invention of the Clavivox.

In 1993, the film Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey released. Thanks to this movie the instrument has resurged and become widely employed by musicians. Its unique sounds and its expressiveness make this interesting electronic instrument one-of-a-kind. Overall, diverse musicians who span throughout different musical styles around the world appreciate it.

Image: Julia Dufosse