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A Century Ago, This Eerie-Sounding Instrument Ushered in Electronic Music

via Smithsonian

The “Play It Loud” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art spotlights the star instruments that made music electronic, from Muddy Waters’ blues axe to a shard of the psychedelic guitar that Jimi Hendrix set aflame at Monterey. Keith Emerson’s Mellotron keyboard still has a knife driven into its keys.

Tucked in the back is a small boxy item that doesn’t look like an instrument at all, but it was the one that came first. The theremin is the granddaddy that kicked off the past century of electronic music. Invented by Russian musician and scientist Lev Theremin, it bears his name.

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