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

Theremin playing his theremin

With its distinct sound and finicky operation, the Theremin is unlike any other instrument.

The Smithsonian has a great retrospective:

The theremin has no strings or even moving parts. It doesn’t rely on a player’s breath. But it translates her hand gestures and motion in the air into pitch and volume, using the principle of heterodyning. In the rock era, the theremin’s unique and often eerie sounds excited legends including Brian Wilson and Jimmy Page. It was one of the good vibes in the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and was featured in some of Page’s out-there solos with Led Zeppelin.

“It was the first successful electronic instrument,” says Jayson Dobney, a musical instruments curator at the museum. The theremin in the exhibit, a Sonic Wave built in New York, belongs to Jimmy Page, who played it in “Dazed and Confused” and “Whole Lotta Love.” According to Dobney, Page “got so excited, he demonstrated it,” when the Met asked to display the instrument.

Alexandra stepanoff plays theremin

Jumping ahead a few decades:

Read more!


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