Wanted: Slide Theremin similar to The Beach Boys'

Posted: 6/13/2009 5:23:43 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Nice page Christopher - I hadn't seen that before. I shall be revisiting your site to see what else I missed. :-)

Hmm. A Tannerin with a volume loop. That tickles me. :-) Theremin's earliest instruments had a pitch rod and a manual volume control. I like seeing ideas turned on their head!

As a theremin player who found his own way of side-stepping the pitch stumbling block, (I play non-pitch-critical music only) I find it an interesting notion. Rather than, as Christopher sees it, a step down from a theremin, I see it as step up from a tannerin. Just as a theremin is a more expressive instrument with a volume loop (aka expression loop) than with a volume pedal, slider or knob so might a tannerin be likewise.

Volume-only theremins are a rare beast indeed. Z-Vex have discontinued their volume probe (http://zvex.com/probe.html) so it might be worth asking Zach about a schematic for your own personal use - no redistribution, no commercial interest (my opinion is, "if you don't ask you don't get" and, "the worst they can say is No") or you could an eye on eBay for one. I also have seen a theremin that comes in two modules - with the expectation that you would buy the pitch module first - somewhere on myspace - I don't recall where, and having met someone who bought one and was disappointed I am not in a rush to find it again. One could adapt the volume circuit from a pitch-and-volume theremin, or perhaps Andrey Smirnov's theremin sensor (http://asmir.theremin.ru/tsensors_sch.htm) #3 could be useful here.

Also - Rich, have you seen Theremin's take on the fingerboard - the Theremin Cello (http://www.peterpringle.com/cello.html) - from a performance point of view that's got to look better than a tannerin. How would you feel about a slide-keytar!
Posted: 6/13/2009 6:24:16 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

Gordon - thanks for the kind word. Hopefully my webpages are interesting enough to overshadow my manic rambling.

Rich - I have a bit of technical skill but definitely no music skills, so I am unaware of all the fancy equipment out there for musicians to use.

My thought is probably sacrilege but why not have someone already skilled at hitting the notes on a theremin record the tune you seek. Then you can transfer that to a digital medium to be called up by pushing a play button.

Then you can tell people when asked, that what they hear is a theremin sort of. (-;

RS Theremin
Posted: 6/13/2009 11:32:29 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006


I guess I fell asleep listening to the music on your 'mespace' site. Yawn!
Sorry! I guess those musical magical days of that era are over for me. Yawn! Excuse me!
Posted: 6/14/2009 7:35:53 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

This ribbon controller (http://www.doepfer.de/home_e.htm) should give the easiest route to a Tannerin type device (Doepfer - about $200.. there is an english description down the page).

You will also need some other synth modules (all 1V/Octave) from somewhere.. Minimum needed is a VCO and VCA, but you would probably want a VCF also, to produce sine waves if the VCO does not have sine wave output.

I will be replying to your last email.. But, alas, I REALLY cannot take on any work now - Completion by end September is not a possibility - even starting before October is most unlikely.

A Doepfer A-198 Ribbon controller, A-110 VCO, A-130 VCA and perhaps A-120 VCF..

VCA = $60
VCO = $140 (has a Sine,square,ramp and triangle wave output)
VCF = $90 (not really needed if using A-110 VCO)

Power supply and case (http://www.doepfer.de/home_e.htm)

$ Prices are actually euro's so will be a bit out

There are lots of links from these pages which may give some ideas.

It is sad that I cannot do this for you - I like your music, and love the Canadian ethos, and having an instrument played at the Torronto festival would be great.. but alas, I have other events coming up which I see as critical to my business, and probably my credibility!
Posted: 6/14/2009 7:51:07 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Gordon wrote:

Here's thereminist Peter Pringle's description of the Persephone (on archive.org as he deleted the page from his website) and here is the audio sample he didn't delete from his website as the copy on archive.org is currently downloading at a ridiculously slow rate. Hi, Peter. :-)

Hi Gordon,

I deleted the material about the Persephone from my website last year after I sold the instrument. I purchased the Persephone on eBay strictly out of curiosity. I diddled with it for a week or two, stuck it in a closet and forgot about it for a couple of years. For me, the Persephone was not particularly satisfying - at least not as satisfying as a theremin.

The so-called "electro-theremin" (or "tannerin") was invented by Paul Tanner because the theremin was too difficult to play and required too much studio time in order to get a decent take. Unfortunately, in the process of making the theremin easier to play, something important was lost.

When Clara Rockmore said, "Think of your fingers as delicate butterfly wings......" she was suggesting that thereminists should view playing their instrument as a kind of flight.

In flight we are totally free in three dimensions. When your fingers are anchored to a pitchbend ribbon (or to a wire, as with the ondes Martenot) you are no longer free. You are earthbound in two dimensions. Yes, the uncertainty (dare I say "danger") of flight is gone but so, for me, is the unearthly, etheric quality of the music.

The magic is sacrificed for reliability.

Posted: 6/14/2009 8:45:57 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Using bought-in components / modules, you could probably build a suitable instrument quite quickly - I am basing what follows on the Doepfer components - but you may find a more local source.

The "Alternative volume controller" will be needed for any ribbon controller that does not provide pressure data to give a volume CV, or you may prefer a seperate volume control.. This is anything that provides a controllable variable voltage.

The optional mixer allows mixing of waveforms from the VCO - at its most basic this could be an op-amp with a few potentiometers.. I can send you a schematic if you wish - Alternatively you could have a switch to select waveforms.. or just wire the Sine output to the VCA (no need for a VCF if you are only using sine).

You will probably want to take the audio going into the VCA to a seperate headphone amplifier for "Preview" - You will not hear the note you are on until the audience does, otherwise.

This is a diagram of what you need:


and a link to it: diagram (http://www.therasynth.com/assets/images/SLIDESYNTH02.JPG)
Posted: 6/14/2009 10:00:55 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

[i]"Yawn! Excuse me!"[/i]

TT -

I am saddened by your recent posts..
When I was new to TW, and completely unknown, it was you and other encouraging people here who made me feel welcome..

If I had encountered the sort of hostility and unpleasantness you are exhibiting these days, I may well have abandoned my ideas when things got rough.

Something bad has happened to you - perhaps you think that being unpleasant is "cool" - well, it isn't! its just RUDE!

Perhaps it is a good idea, when one is in your state, to adopt the following principle.. If you cannot say anything helpful or constructive, dont say anything at all!


(P.S. - If you or anyone else wants to reply to this, please start a new thread.. I have been responsible for many unintentional hijacks - dont want to do it again!)

Posted: 6/14/2009 2:35:41 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

I think there is one thing that needs to be said here.

It is true that all continuous controllers do have one advantage over the traditional theremin; an improved ability to stop and hold postion on the controller. This is true of the Persephone, Stylophone, Continuum Fingerboard, and any ribbon controller, as well as any instrument in the viol family and the fretless electric bass.

However, the issue of intonation and "hitting the mark" is not improved upon, and perhaps slightly diminished. One still needs a well developed ear and muscle coordination.

And, as mentioned many times before, the result does sound a little "sterile" and lacks some of the warmth and feeling the theremin is capable of. Whether that is important depends on the effect the composer/player desires.
Posted: 6/14/2009 7:52:13 PM

From: Halifax, Canada

Joined: 6/12/2009

Oh I would love one of those Cello Theremins but I feel like those are as hard to come by as the Tannerin I'm looking for.

Thanks for sticking up for me and/or my music. I really didn't mean to put my music up for discussion from TT but thanks for your kind words from the rest of you. I'm only just a padwan in this music world and am trying to learn as much as I can.

Posted: 6/14/2009 9:39:09 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Rich, They are so cool. But considerably harder to find and waaaay more expensive.

I agree with Jeff - you can't beat a well played theremin - but there are practical considerations - they're no good on carnival floats (*), for instance, and if you're going to play melodically you really need to commit to the instrument big time. (I recommend serious commitment for non-melodic thereminning as well!)

(Not so sure about your examples though, Jeff - stylophone; not continuous pitch - continuum; ridges in the rubber sheet to mark notes - and of course the tannerin had a painted keyboard to indicate the note positions.)

(*) Both the player and the instrument are disturbed by the movement of the vehicle, the other occupants distort the pitch field, and the ten mile long power cable might get snagged going round corners.

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