So yesterday was my birthday. Birthdays since about 23 haven’t been the most enjoyable for me. I mean friends and family have always been great. Parties are always fun, but it’s the whole getting older part that bummed me out. The last few years, I’ve been feeling better about it, and this year was probably the best I felt about it since I was 23! Not sure what changed, maybe I finally don’t give a shit and I quit fighting it mentally – but enjoy it now. Who knows.
Whoa.. I need to get to my point though. This year I received a great present from my wife and two great friends – a Moog Theremin. Now, why this makes it great for me, is that I’ve been fascinated and I’ve been pointing out theremins in songs/performances for years. It was one of those items that I never thought I would buy, but something I was very wanting to own. So when I opened the box I was very happy to finally own a Theremin!
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Theremin, it’s an instrument that uses two antennas (one to control volume and the other to control pitch/note). No physical contact is used with the theremin – simply positioning your hands in three dimensional space in proximity of the antennas will create the sound. The instrument was created by Leon Theremin in the 20s for the Russian Government. It was actually designed as a military device – basically a proximity alarm system. In 1928 Theremin took it on the road demonstrating it’s musical capabilities with Clara Rockmore who was amazing in how she played the instrument, which was originally called the etherphone. After some controversy, the Theremin faded away until the 50s/60s where it was reintroduced in many sci-fi movies. The original series Star Trek is a great example of Theremin use during this period! (nerd alert – I would love to learn how to play that piece)
It finally reached popular music with the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibration” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “No Quarter”, and can be found in music today (Radiohead, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Joe Bonomassa).
An absolutely awesome movie about the Theremin is “Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey” by Steve Martin is a must-see. Great movie which goes into the lives of Leon Theremin and Clara Rockmore and actually documents their reunion – they hadn’t seen each other since 1928!
Anyway, I’m stoked! I’ll be experimenting with a few pedals in the signal as well. It’ll be a fun ride!