Looking to be a Thereminist

Posted: 9/12/2006 2:27:44 AM

From: Texas

Joined: 9/11/2006

Hello, all! My name is Alex, and I am a Computer Science student.

I stumbled across the theremin, formally (I am familiar with some of its works, such as the music of Mars Attack! and other sci-fi greats) the other day.

I absolutely fell in love with it, and I have chosen to aquaint myself with this lovely instrument by building one. . . then learning to play it. I think I'll have a greater appreciation for it, and feel like it's my own. I have previous music experience with the alto sax, but I'm not sure how much that will help.

Anyway. . . . I would be greatful for any tips, and if anyone could tell me if the tutorial site I found is relyable:


It seemed like somewhere to start until I gain a better understanding of how it actually works to really make a theremin of my own.
Posted: 9/12/2006 4:17:43 AM

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

I suggest you start with a copy of "How To Play The Theremin", a DVD by Peter Pringle, available at peterpringle.com . It's a superb tutorial, which will take you calmly and clearly though every step of the playing process. After that, it's practice, practice!

The models of instrument most commonly recommended for beginners are the Moog Music Etherwave Standard (About $400, plus amp and stand... call it $500 total) or the Kees Enkelaar Theremin (about $200, I don't know if it needs an amp or not, plus stand).

Jaycar, an Australian electronics kit company, sells a kit for the "Silicon Chip Theremin" which is about $50 plus shipping, but I understand that if made exactly according to instructions it's not so great. However, there is a set of instructions here on Theremin World about how to improve it, I have the kit and plan to try it and will report on my results on my web site at http://theremin.tomfarrell.org/ when I'm finished. If you don't know how to assemble an electronics kit, as a CS student I suspect you can probably find somebody in your university's college of engineering who would be willing to help you build one.

Jaycar also recently announced a new improved model of the Silicon Chip Theremin, but it's not available on their web site yet (as of a day or two ago when I checked). The flyer they sent me with the kits I recently purchased from them indicates it will sell for about 150 Australian Dollars, which is about $113 US, plus shipping. It looks like they've made a serious effort to improve the instrument, but until someone buys one, builds it, and reports on the results, we won't know how playable it really is.
Posted: 9/12/2006 4:25:05 AM

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

I forgot to mention you can find links to all these manufacturers in the "Theremin Gallery" in the "Learn" section of this web site, from the menu at left.

And welcome.
Posted: 9/12/2006 4:48:38 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

The Kees does require an amp. Internally it is a modified Jaycar kit.
Posted: 9/12/2006 12:45:31 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

The website that you link to provides a reliable account of the opinion of its author, but I have diagreed with Christopher (the author) regarding several things he says with regards to the theremins playability.

Yes, the theremin is difficult, but it certainly doesn't seem to be as hard to pick up and take to an 'acceptable' level than many other instruments. It is certainly VERY difficult to master, but most people who are vaguely musical and stick with the instrument seem to be pleasantly surprised by their progress. The Etherwave and Kees are certainly excellent instruments. You don't need to waste loads of money to be able to play nicely, just loads of time practicing ;).
Posted: 9/12/2006 3:33:07 PM

From: Texas

Joined: 9/11/2006

Thanks :D!
Posted: 9/13/2006 11:56:33 AM

From: UK

Joined: 2/15/2005

If you can play the sax then that's a great starting point, as it's a similarly monophonic instrument. Just get one, start waving your arms about, and you'll be off to a flying start.

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