Theremin: A Bizarre Yet Fascinating Instrument That Will Blow Your Mind

Ever wonder playing an instrument that sounds like a sci-fi movie soundtrack of Star Wars? No? How about playing it without touching it? NOW! We’re talking!

So let’s go meet my buddy, the Theremin, a bizarre yet fascinating instrument that will blow your mind like Luke Skywalker blowing up the deathstar.

While the 21st century filled with a lot of touchscreen instrument, this one of a kind instrument is way ahead its time that can be played without even touching the said instrument.

So without further ado let’s get in touch (or you don’t have to?) with this mesmerizing piece of instrument also known as the etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox! 

History of Theremin

Theremin is an instrument that plays notes based on how close your hand was to two antennas. It was like playing an invisible harp with your fingertips!

Back in the 1920’s a smart dude named Leon Theremin (originally named Lev Termen) was tinkering around with stuff that sensed things without even touching it.

Theremin, as brilliant of an inventor as he was, was fascinated with the concept of contactless interaction. One of his experiments, focused on electromagnetic fields, yielded an unexpected result which is the theremin and in 1928 he patented his invention.

Fueled by enthusiasm for his creation he brought the theremin to the United States in the hopes of making it a household instrument. 

During the 1930’s is the time when theremin gained a fascination over audiences in America and abroad with Lucie Bigelow Rosen, Clara Rockmore further supporting the development and popularization of this instrument.

He even went as far as to collaborate with a major electronics company to mass-produce theremins. While it didn’t quite reach the target of being a staple household instrumen, the theremin did find a niche in the world of electronic music.

How Theremin Works

While being one of the most fascinating and can produce an other-worldly sound like other instruments, theremin is also well-known for the instrument that is so hard to master.

The theremin works by manipulating the invisible field around two antennas. These two antennas act as you “guide” to produce the sound of the theremin.

One antenna acts as the “volume control” as you move your hand closer the sound gets quieter, and you can also blast off your neighbor’s ear by moving your hand further from the antenna.

And the other antenna acts as the “strumming antenna”, which can manipulate the pitch by moving your hand closer to the tall antenna, thus making the pitch higher.

Imagine playing an instrument without even touching it, even a very slight movement will change the volume and pitch of the sound that it produces.

It requires a vast amount of practice, muscle memory and also finesse to actually master this instrument.

So that is the history of theremin, the most bizarre yet fascinating piece of musical instrument that (in my case) is very interesting to look up!

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