Theremin (electronic music), an "old" curiosity?


The Living Force
I often watch PBS's Nova/Nova-Now programs every
now and then, but this week, there was a short episode
in regards to 'Theremin', a Russian inventor of the electronic
(moog) music invented in 1928, that piqued my curiosity as
I have heard of "MOOG" music before, but I did not know this
was connected to 'Theremin', the inventor. Apparently, it was
a big curiosity at the time, Stalin went "gaga" over it, and
Theremin was subsequently put into a "lab research" prison
camp, and did not get out until 1991. It is odd. The information
can be learned from the following link:


At this point, I forgot about it, moved on, but I was looking for
information in regards to using open-sourced software/hardware
development tools called gEDA, in preparation for a project I wanted
to finish that I put off for awhile. While researching gEDA tools, I just
happened to stumble on a "hobby electronics" website and there was a
project called: "Drawio" (which is shortened from "DRAW AudIO"), and
basically, it is a small Theremin circuit, provided with a uTube demo, which
I thought was creative, funny, and interesting.

FWIW, here is the link:




The Living Force

That was a fascinating read! I used to be somewhat of an electronic music enthusiast about 8-10 years ago. I'd have to say I've never come across this sort of instrument before though. Of all I've read of Robert Moog and the Moog synthesizers, I had never read that he heavily promoted these Theremin devices for awhile.

I think it would be neat to try modulating the resonance and cutoff frequency of a 303 or 303 emulator with one of these Theremin devices. Coming from more of a techno background this sounds more exciting that controlling pitch and volume. Maybe one could make one of these and convert the signal to MIDI so one could control any parameter on a synthesizer.

Anyways, thanks again.



Jedi Council Member
I've heard several pieces of music that use the Theremin for effect, and it certainly sounds good! I believe the Theremin was used a lot in those cheesy 1950s sci-fi/horror flicks -- that high-pitched, wobbly "alien" sound is quite distinct.


The Living Force
I am glad you guys found this as interesting as I did.

RX, I'd say go for it, when it comes to emulating 303 via Theremin
as it is an interesting curiosity! It is interesting to note that the
past is catching up (Deja-Vue?) to the "present" for those who
did not know. It was a real eye-opener, especially the mystery
behind the politics, at least for me!

Google: Theremin and there is literally TONs of stuff on this
subject and it continues today. A good site is:


Also there is a "player" called "Clara Rockmore":

Tons of her music are on uTube. The funny thing here
is, that she looks like something out of a "Star Trek"
episode with her "alien hairdo". Weird.

3D: At least I know now, where the "wobbly alien" sound
originated from and it wasn't MOOG, that was the originator
as it differs using using electronic "emulating devices" instead
of a Heterodyne circuit! Also, Alfred Hitchcock's 'Spellbound'
movie is one of many that contains the use of Theremin music.

What is also interesting is how ?PBS-Nova? detailed the politics
behind Theremin, how he was well received, politicized, then
imprisoned by Stalin(?) which is not well detailed in the Wiki
page, and for some reason I cannot seem to find the link to
the show or the transcripts in question. Perhaps it was something
else, other than PBS, as I cannot recall with total clarity where
I saw it.



Jedi Master
i've known about the theremin for some time.

electronic pioneer jean michel jarre regularly uses one in his concerts.

here he explains the background to the crowd before playing it.



Jedi Council Member
Hey forum! I have been recently researching in the possiblity of controlling music with simple hand movement. I found a device which i aquired, but it needed to be a bit programmed to send right signals to the music software.
In the end this is what i got


By the way, it is an amazing tool for gaining attention. Hands need to stay tight and in the right position.

Seppo Ilmarinen

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Looks interesting. What's the name of the device? Can you only control dynamics with it? Your video reminded me of theremin, which is quite cool (but difficult) instrument:


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Interesting. I used to fantasize about the idea of someone being able to make music by moving their body in some way, especially the arms and hands. With modern technologies it's becoming possible. Although, in my fantasy it was done with "magic". :rolleyes:

WIN 52

The Living Force
The harmonica, a great way to work with bending sound using your own body(mouth and hands). I have had some results that seemed to be similar yet much more interesting


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A note on harmonicas: just my experience, but I've bought a few cheap harmonicas in the past and each one I've bought had one or more holes that produced an incorrect note, so be careful if shopping for one.
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