His music seems to evoke hypnotic notes. It is created by moving hands and fingers through the air. It is the only musical instrument that is completely controlled without direct physical contact. It is the theremin, the musical instrument that seems to come from another world. It was invented 100 years ago. It inspired the rise of sound technology that led Robert Moog to create the modern day synthesizer.
They used it from Led Zeppelin to The Rolling Stones. It’s also featured in the main theme of the popular science fiction series Star Trek. Always inspire a new wave of artists.
“I think it has a lot of unexplored potential. And it’s visually fascinating, ”says the Icelandic musician Hekla. She combines theremin and voice in her albums, as in the most recent, Cracks, from 2020. «I came from a classical background and learned the cello. And the theremin seemed to me from another world, ”he says.
Carolina Eyck is another theremin teacher who wants to spread this unique instrument. His interpretation of the Theremin Concert Eight Seasons, from Kalevi Aho, received an award for recording the year in Germany.
Theremine involve manipulating electromagnetic fields around two antennas. They make the instrument look like a strange music stand. Musicians control noise by moving their hands and fingers around a vertical antenna to raise or lower the pitch. And they regulate the volume on a loop antenna.
The musical instrument, which seems to come from another world, was invented around 1920. It was made by Russian physicist Lev Sergeyevich Termen, later known as Léon Theremin.
His goal was to measure some properties of the gas using new radio wave technology. But he found that his device was emitting a strange gurgling sound. And that he could shape it by moving his hands over the equipment.
As a trained cellist, Theremin recognized the potential of his discovery. He wanted to create a completely new instrument. Theremin played his instrument in the Kremlin for Vladimir Lenin in 1922 and in Berlin for Albert Einstein in 1927. Soon thereafter, Theremin crossed the Atlantic and set up a studio on West 54th Street in New York.
The place was a magnet for composers and scientists alike. Einstein, an avid violinist, used a room in the house Theremin rented to investigate the connection between music and geometry.
In addition to making scientific discoveries, the inventor also planned how to get rich. “People will learn to play it without too much difficulty,” he predicted of his instrument. He dreamed of putting a theremin in every house. His dream fell through for a simple fact: the theremin is actually very difficult to play well.
No other instrument requires the control of the body that the theremin requires on the part of a player. There is no keyboard to use as a reference when playing notes.
In addition to good spatial perception, a musician needs a bright ear to play certain notes. You need to combine relaxed body movements with intense mental focus. This explains why there are so few theremin virtuosos in the world.