RE: [AH] Theremini

From Frank Vanaman
Sent Tue, Jan 28th 2014, 01:12


-----Original Message-----
From: Kenneth Elhardt []=20

{in part}
What I'm constantly baffled about is why after the invention of the =
synthesizer is the Theremin still being produced and bought. It makes =
one sound and seems near impossible to play. With pitch bend wheels, =
portamento, ribbon controllers, or keyboards like the French Connection =
(link below for those who forgot it exists) or Continuum,=20

-- -- --

Having heard [a very few] good players, I guess I wouldn't just =
wholesale write the instrument off! That said, I've heard a lot of =
theremin 'playing' that I'd be really happy to un-hear. I also know that =
with my ear-to-motor skills it would take a very long time to get me =
where I'd be good enough to play at what I'd call even a remotely =
acceptable level.

I am perfectly satisfied with both the Continuum and Doepfer ribbon =
controllers for getting the level of expression and "pitch-glidability" =
I need. For me, having a physical object to rest on is fairly important =
for lengthy playing. I spent some time waving about with one of Paul =
Perry's Frostwave space-beams and got to the point where I got real =
tired of holding my arm up. Call me an old wheeze-bag.=20

At some point it occurred to me that the CV from the Frostwave, through =
a quantizer and then through a lag could give something of a =
pitch-correcting effect, but of course the success of that effect is =
dependent on the lag rate and the distance between the notes you want to =

The continuum has what I'd call the most elegant feeling pitch-rounding =
functions I've experienced. You can make it snap pitches to the nearest =
half-step as you play, or you can set it to round your notes to the =
nearest half step over a period of time. I've settled on a setting which =
takes a long time to round, based on the idea that I'll learn to get my =
intervals right (since it won't correct my mis-played notes immediately) =
but if I keep holding something sour for a real long time it will =
eventually get it tuned.

The idea of the Theremini having that continuous control over how it =
snapped to notes just made me wonder how well it works in those =
intermediate regions, which is where I'd be if I were trying to use one.