antenaas questions

Posted: 8/23/2007 12:38:56 PM

From: Slovenia

Joined: 8/23/2007

hi, I'm new here... I learned about the theremins and would want to use it with only one hand (using the other to play with the knobs of my effects...)

why don't they put antennas closer together - that would require only one hand (but still keeping control over volume)? is it technically not possible or does that make it unplayable?

if that is not possible, how's the one-antenna version?

third option :)
could I place something over the volume antenna so that it would have a constant volume?

and maybe the last question - does the pitch antenna have to be vertical? i'd want the pitch to be controlled by the height of my hand, so the antenna would have to be horizontal (and at the height of my eyes)...

I know, only questions, that's why i'm in the noobs forum :) i'm really looking forward to hear some answers and maybe a debate.


Posted: 8/23/2007 3:18:06 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Single handed plying options:

1, use a B3 which has it's volume, and pitch antenna only a few inches away from each other.

2, regardless of using B3, Moog, PAIA, ect, turn the theremin so that the volume antenna is directly under your forearm, or elbow. This does present some challenges for learning pitch accuracy, and dynamics with one arm, but not impossible.

3, you can use a dynamics pedal to work volume, but with less affectiveness.

4, you could use a pitch only theremin with a dynamics pedal.

5, when seated, use one knee under the volume antenna. (Might as well just use the dynamics pedal.)
Posted: 8/23/2007 5:13:39 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Is it possible to play a theremin with pitch and volume antennas with only one hand? No.

This is why - the name antenna is a misnomer, the pitch rod and volume loop are each one plate of a capacitor (not actually plate shaped, of course, but that is irrelevant,) the other plates being, usually, the pitch hand and volume hand. If the pitch field (the space between the pitch rod and the pitch hand) extends over the volume loop then the volume loop will act as the second plate to the pitch rod as it is a far better conductor than your hand, the result being you loose all control over pitch, creating a volume-only, fixed pitch instrument while your hand is over the volume loop.

At least that is what happens on my etherwave - I just tried it.

It is quite possible to play a theremin with your hip controlling the volume and your hand controlling the pitch. I have done this myself in order to play a second instrument (the instrument in question being another theremin - illustrated in the avatar to the left of this posting <--- !) but you sacrifice a great deal of control and flexibility by doing so. If all you are looking for is to add a few woo-woos to your sound then it will work just fine, but you really won't be realising the full potential of the instrument.

Posted: 8/23/2007 5:23:36 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

If you want the full expressiveness of a two-antenna theremin, you might consider using foot pedals to control your fx (instead of knobs).

In fact, if you play while seated you could probably arrange quite a number of pedals in front of your left and right feet.

Another thing to consider is to purchase a theremin with control voltage outputs, such as the Theremax. The Theremax allows you to trigger envelope generators and control VCO's, VCA,s etc...

Posted: 8/23/2007 8:51:04 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

The Pro's rod, and loop are too far from each other to do it single handed. I have messed with this on the standard with (very) limited success (?), but not with rappid dynamics.

The B3 is going to be the only one that will let you play single handedly, but also with very slow changes in dynamics. But I'd have to agree with both Kevin, and Gordon in terms of most effective control over dynamics being pedals, or CV capable theremins, if you want to have a hand free for effects control.
Posted: 8/24/2007 9:38:45 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Funny timing,
first thanks Gordon for the Plate analogy.
That's a good way to describe it, and loop and rod present few spelling risks than antteennee.

Last night a fellow who'd lost one arm was asking alot about it. Someone in a similar situation I recall discussed it here a long time ago.
The theremin, being totally space controlled, provides so many more options to the differently abled than most conventional instruments. He sounded encouraged and I told him to check here at TW. Hope he does, this discussion would be a good jump start for him as well.
Posted: 8/30/2007 5:59:36 PM

From: Slovenia

Joined: 8/23/2007

thx for all the replies, I guess I'm gonna go for the two antennae version after all...

so what about the direction of the antennas? could one place the pitch antenna horizontally?
Posted: 8/30/2007 8:14:19 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005


One can even do this with the antennas...

But from a playability point of view I suspect it is easier to move your left and right hands independently if their directions of movement are not the same as one another. Which would be why all commercial theremins are built with their antennas the same way these days, afaik.

Posted: 9/1/2007 9:15:04 PM

From: Fresno, California USA

Joined: 3/26/2006

I suspect the conventional antennae are at right angles to decrease the interactions between their fields. I notice that in some theremins (particularly the older ones built into large consoles) the volume antenna is tipped back a bit toward the player. That is not practical in a flat case; it seems a bit more natural if the instrument is built so that the antennae are rather high and the left forearm is angled up to play.

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