Things learned at Moog Music Work Shop

Posted: 3/13/2007 10:17:10 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

I thaught I'd lost my notes, but here's what I learned from Kurstin's workshop, some of which was not mentioned in the work shop.

Vibrato: I had actually started experimenting with a method of vibrato used not only by kurstin, but one other thereminist on youtube. I mentioned this to Pamelia, and she comfirmed that she uses an up and down motion, rather than a left to right motion for vibrato because it allows greater control over entonation, and makes rapid note changes more accurate. It also produces a tighter sounding vibrato that sounds more like a violin, rather than the nervus sounding vibrato we've become used to. This was discussd in private between myself and Kurstin at the Joli Rouge prior to the performances.

The same night we talked about holding the pitch arm vertical vs horizontal. She mentioned that it's much easier to control vibrato, and enjoy longer periods of playing time without getting tired if your arm is held more vertical because you are alocating more energy to working the music than fighting gravity.

We also discussed the little clamshell clamping method of the thumb, and fingers when descending scales to make things sound like you're playing a stringed instrument. Pete Pringle, Rockmore, and others also used this technique. a few months back I started trying this, but until Kurston showed me in person what was being done, I was having trouble comprehending just how this was done.

As it turns out, that same clamshell clamping effect is used by Kurstin in her walking bass routine with the volume hand near the volume antenna. This was something she mentioned in the workshop, and when she held her hand to the side so we could actually see this done, it made a lot more sense, and I'm now able to do this, although no where near as well as she does it. What she does is holds her hand just behind the volume antenna, and opens and closes her thumb, and fingers in a snappy clamping manner to produce the string pluck effect. She uses the low register of the pro for this too. It really takes some practice to get the coordination down.

In the work shop she talked about all the things that affect tunning. As I mentioned in another thread, just eating something will change your capacitance enought to have to adjust the pitch knowb to get back to zero peat.

Most of us know this, but she also told horror stories of performing live at a club and having a waiter walk by too close to the theremin, and totally destroyed her entonation for a moment.

Other topics most of us know about were physics involving how the theremin works, and it's history for the newcomers.

Basics of learning how to start playing were also discussed, like stance, posture, and mechanical stability (remaning still) vs bouncing around like you would if playing a conventional instrument in a band.

On a slightly more advanced level, breath control came up. As it turns out, you don't want to find yourself trying to play the theremin right after running up stairs, or working too hard setting up as your breathing will be heavy enough to cause your chest to expand, and contract enough to cause entonation problems. In fact, you want to breath as slowly, and shallow as comfortably possible to enhance entonation.

The rest is pretty much what's seen on the E pro DVD.
Posted: 3/13/2007 10:28:27 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Forgot to mention, Kevin Kissinger does a nice job of demonstrating the clamshell clamping technique on his site.
Posted: 3/14/2007 1:38:59 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

There is a place I play sometimes where there is very little room and the audience members often wander in and out of my control zone.

Sometimes they realize it but most of the time they have no clue.

There was this one guy who stopped and backed up when he realized he was too close. When I waved him through he played aorund with it a little.

That might bother some people but I thought it was a lot of fun.

What does bother me a little though is when the other band members use the theremin for a table. I have found car keys, E-bows, ashtrays, and even a beer or two on it.
Posted: 3/14/2007 1:57:16 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

'Guess that's why the invented the Etherwave Pro, huh? They might still hang keys from the antenna, but at least they can't set a beer down on it. That would bother me too. Some people, I tell you...

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