You Asked For It

Posted: 9/23/2009 8:52:34 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I found an episode of the 1950's TV show, "You Asked For It" featuring a segment on the theremin.

The theremin shows up at around the 6:20 mark.


Posted: 9/24/2009 3:38:11 PM
Ernesto mendoza

From: Mexico city Mex

Joined: 1/7/2006

Beautiful, thanks for post it.
I wish i could lived in those days...

Posted: 9/24/2009 6:55:27 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

This is an interesting video. Check out the volume arm motions.
Posted: 9/24/2009 7:59:50 PM

From: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Joined: 4/9/2008

Ernesto --

I lived in those days.

Be careful what you wish for.
Posted: 9/25/2009 12:40:19 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 . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

That is a wonderful vid - and superb, clear rendition of the Theremin sound..

A couple of things interested me -
1.) As Thomas said, the volume hand movements were unusual.. was this more for visual effect, or was there real technical merit in playing like that?

2.) The bass notes were extremely (compared to other Theremins / Performances I have seen) close to the pitch antenna - and the pitch range seemed quite small (2 - 3 octaves?) and looked to be extremely linear.. Was this just a function of how this Theremin was tuned for this performance, or was it a feature of this particular Theremin / model (RCA Victor?).

One thing I found particularly awesome was how well the Thereminist was able to 'control' the hands of the presenter when he 'played' the instrument.. Somehow, this instrument looked a lot easier to master than present Theremins..
Posted: 9/25/2009 1:26:09 AM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

I'm pretty certain, that the volume arm movements were all for show. She must've figured she had to make playing look interesting to the audience.

I can only guess that all those motions would certainly have a negative trade off in the way of intricate dynamic articulation for visual impact.

If I recall, and Coalport, correct me if I'm wring, if you're reading, the RCAs, only had 4 plus octaves, which would've made playing a bit easier than today's 5, 6, and 7 plus octave theremins.
Posted: 9/25/2009 7:55:21 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Thomas Grillo wrote:
If I recall, and Coalport, correct me if I'm wring, ....the RCAs, only had 4 plus octaves...


No, Thomas, you are not "wring". The RCA has about three and a half playable octaves and a linearity that makes it easier to play than many modern theremins whose high notes are compressed.

The thereminist on YOU ASKED FOR IT, who we often refer to as "Paula Mary", is playing an RCA that is in dire need of regulation. Its range has slipped so that the high notes are no longer available. This is something that happens naturally with RCA's that are not properly maintained.

Paula's extraordinary volume gestures are popularly referred to as the "gooseneck" technique.

It was never my impression that Paula was doing this for the cameras. I think it is the way she played. And make no mistake, SHE WAS A VERY GOOD PLAYER.

I first saw this performance on a theremin compilation video cassette called PINOCCHIO'S VIOLIN, which was made by Los Angeles thereminist Ross Marshall in the mid 1990's. Efforts were made at that time by Charles Richard Lester to find out who this "Paula Mary" was and what had become of her instrument. Unfortunately the trail was cold.

Since that time, the woman's correct name was found (it seems to me that Jessica Hummel had something to do with researching this) but no other pertinent biographical information was uncovered.

If Paula Mary were alive today she would probably be in her late eighties or nineties. She was really charming and relaxed on the show and her performance was excellent.

As for being able to guide someone's hands so they can "play" like a pro, it's not that hard provided the person doesn't fight you and the thereminist who is guiding the gestures is reasonably skilled on the instrument.

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