the LEVNET zone, part 2

Posted: 7/30/2009 3:11:56 PM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 3/8/2005

[b]FredM Wrote:[/b][i]"Good intonation is a basic fundamental of musicianship, period."

Sorry - this is YOUR opinion. Ask a drummer, and he would probably say that "TIMING is a basic fundamental of musicianship, period." - and he would probably be more "right" than you!

Why are people here so pedantic ? Why can people not say "In my opinion.." instead of stating something as an absolute fact.[/i]

I am sorry, but good intonation IS a basic fundamental of musicianship. If it wasn't, do you think that orchestras would bother to "tune up" before a concert? Ear training is a requirement for first year conservatory students. Do you really think that if Maria Callas sang out of tune all the time she would be considered an excellent singer?

Good intonation IS a basic fundamental of musicianship, and suggesting otherwise is completely laughable. It is not simply my opinion, it is the opinion of every professional musician I have ever met. It was the opinion of Clara Rockmore. It is the opinion of Pamelia Kurstin. I cannot speak for Pringle, but listening to his recordings, I am quite sure that he considers it a fundamental as well.

If you wish to not believe that good intonation is a basic fundamental to be worked on, that is certainly your prerogative. However, ANYONE can play a theremin out of tune. Only a handful can play it with good intonation.
Posted: 7/30/2009 4:06:31 PM

From: Richmond Hill, Georgia

Joined: 9/18/2005

I play well enough to suit myself, about 50% of the time. I rarely post anything, because

1. I am a parent with precious spare time.
2. I don't need ego stroking as much as some others do.

The few times I have played in public people have enjoyed themselves. I don't play pieces publicly I have not practiced beforehand. This is folly.

I have a precious few months to select and practice the pieces I will play for my gig in November.

Philip Neidlinger
Posted: 7/30/2009 4:09:24 PM

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

Sorry -
You are right.
I read your statement as "Good intonation is [b]the[/b] basic fundamental of musicianship, period."
I do not know how I did this - but I was so convinced that this was what you wrote, I was sure you must have changed the "the" to an "a".. went back and checked, and you hadn't!

I have also appologised in my last posting on the preceding thread, and edited out (changed) some things which were, with hindsight, deeply and deliberately offensive.

Please accept my apology for these.
Posted: 7/30/2009 4:32:45 PM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 3/8/2005

Fred -

Thank you for the apology - I do appreciate it.

You may find it "sad" that I choose not to share my theremin playing. Maybe I can give you a bit of insight. I work every day here in Los Angeles as a professional musician (non theremin). Often I work 16 hours a day. I am hardly afraid of performing or recording publicly - I do it on a daily basis. I play the theremin for my own enjoyment - a hobby for when I have time to myself. It is fun for me - I have no need to get attention for myself by doing it, and I do not need the ego stroking that others do. Furthermore, as music is a JOB for me and provides me with a means to live and support my family, I cannot afford to have videos out there floating around with me playing ANY insrument badly, poorly, out of tune, or otherwise - such a thing could absolutely have an impact on my getting hired and making a living. It is different for me than it is for you.
Posted: 7/30/2009 5:04:35 PM

From: Santa Rosa, California USA

Joined: 7/25/2005

In the science fiction field (writing short stories and novels is one of the ways I make a living)we have an adage called "Sturgeon's Law." Apparently somebody asked Theodore Sturgeon, a wonderful writer of science fiction, how anybody could take SF seriously when 90% of SF is s__t? Sturgeon's response (which came to be called among us "Sturgeon's Law") was: "90% of EVERYTHING is s__t."

Actually, I think the percentage is much higher, but let's suppose it's 90%.

So 90% of youtube videos of people playing theremin is s__t. Why are we getting exercised about this?--I think this is a question worth serious personal consideration.

I also make part of my living as a performer of physical theater, including mime. When first learning mime (going about it in a fanatical way, too, walking up and down corridors for hours on end, for example, to try to understand precisely why and how the arms move the way they move in relation to the legs in walking) I loved to look down on all the street performers in white face and Mickey Mouse gloves, the Marceau wannabees with deficient technique and no inspiration, according to me. I actually lectured some performers about that, thinking to chasten them and lead them to the Right Understanding. I feel ashamed of it now, but I bet everybody understands where that comes from.

I was jealous of my tiny field. I wanted respect, and I felt that these folks were causing my work to be less respected. I also enjoyed feeling superior to them--I may not have been a better performer, actually, but, see, my aspirations were nobler.

I still don't much like that whiteface variety of mime, but I'm close enough to the grave to be a little bit less concerned about being dragged down by them--a fantastic idea to begin with, no? What's it to me if they twist and girn and make their invisible walls? Live and let live, yes?

Does my tolerating those millions somehow diminish or compromise me or my art? I take it for granted that anybody I want to talk art to already knows what's wrong with the Mickey Mousers. With the rest there are plenty of other conversations to enjoy.
Posted: 7/30/2009 5:39:01 PM

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

[i]"BTW - where are your theremin videos? I have not seen them." - Eitherspiel [/i]

LOL! - Nor has anyone else! .. (they dont exist)

I am primarily an electronics engineer, developing new high-end Theremins and other gestural musical instruments.. My Theremin playing expierience consists of messing with prototypes - and one workshop / lesson with Lydia Kavina where I think I did fairly well ;-)

I do not even have a fully functioning Theremin yet - but hope to have the first unit working in time for "Hands off 2009" and perhaps some videos will emerge from that - and perhaps I will play something on it - who knows.

I intend to get some mastery of the Theremin so that I can do basic demos of my products, but do not intend to do serious demonstrations.. I think that giving a few Theremins away to good players (and yes - mostly I mean players who can play "in tune" ;-) would be my best stratergy.. I have some lined up.. I think my biggest problem with playing the Theremin is not intonation - it is co-ordination and good use of the volume antenna - I can hit the correct note quite quickly and accurately for a beginner, but doing the dynamics well simultaneously is where I think I will have a real problem.

I "play" keyboards, am entirely self taught (playing by ear, and attempting to get the compositions in my head out to the speakers - LOL), and got into playing music because of my interest in synthesisers - I have been involved with electronic musical instruments since the mid 70's, so have often messed about with making music.

Posted: 7/30/2009 6:20:36 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Eliot makes a very valid point about the 90% rule.

It is a professional hazard in many areas that one becomes painfully aware of the 90%ers, and that percentage increases as one becomes more involved in one's chosen field.

I know enough about photography, by way of example, to spoil someone's day by explaining to them why the snapshot they like so much is not a good photograph, and to spoil my own enjoyment of a good many photos by having opinions about them. I especially hate the soulless, characterless, lifeless portraits of impossibly beautiful women in glossy magazines that have been airbrushed to an artificial mockery of perfection.

I know wine connoisseurs who can't enjoy a gluggable bottle of plonk from the supermarket.

And so on.

The cure for rampant perfectionism is to understand that "good enough" is a higher form of perfection, taking nature as our example.

We speak of the perfection of nature ("I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree." Joyce Kilmer) but evolution does not produce "perfect" - it produces "good enough" - we do not live forever, but long enough to propagate the species - good enough - and after that, well, "putrefaction is the end, of all that nature doth entend" (Robert Herrick.)

This is the higher perfection, the perfection of the pragmatic and essential to the artist if, as Steven Jobs contends, "Real artists deliver."

All we need to agree on is what exactly constitutes "good enough." Hahahahaha!

(I like my music like I like my photos, raw, and a little bit rough around the edges. It doesn't make me any less particular about what I like and don't like.)
Posted: 7/30/2009 6:50:04 PM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

90% is not only a valid point but fairly accurate too! Last year I spent a mind-numbing weekend watching practically every Youtube theremin video and categorizing the ones that interested me into umpty-ump playlists.

Presently, if you type "theremin" in the YT searchbox there are about 5,200 videos; last year, when I did my marathon the total was perhaps about a thousand less. I ended up "saving" about 400 (10%) of these to playlists, (which I endeavor to keep updated).

Of the 90% most fall into two or three categories: 1) Highschool electronics projects - made, demonstrated then left in the attic! 2) People's first theremin tryout - they get a new gadget, record a trial "tune", then, once they realise how difficult precision playing is, leave their theremin at the back of a closet. 3) Theremin-related ... light theremins that are pretty much unplayable etc. There are also many (mostly Japanese) videos of Matryomins, Keromins, and Gakken Minis and Premiums.

Of the 10% there are about 60 people in my playlists who have posted theremin videos with some regularity. Interestingly, of these, there are perhaps only about 6 or so whose playing is something I aspire to - although that's not to say that I don't respect the others.
Posted: 7/30/2009 7:59:14 PM

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

[i]"Presently, if you type "theremin" in the YT searchbox there are about 5,200 videos; last year, when I did my marathon the total was perhaps about a thousand less. I ended up "saving" about 400 (10%) of these to playlists, (which I endeavor to keep updated)." - Thereminstrel [/i]

Is there a possibility of having a web page somewhere, on which a list can be kept, with links..? Find a good Theremin video (one that you enjoy, for whatever reason) and post a link to this, together with brief commentary, and perhaps some sort of rating system for things like intonation etc.. (in the case of experimental music, probably rate the intonation as N/A or F/A ;-) Others who then view this video could give their own numeric rating if the disagree.

Perhaps a forum here on TW - or an email chain on LEVNET.. 90% of 5200 is a lot of crap to have to watch to find the few gems.. If only 10% of this 5200 are any good, it would be nice to have a list of them.

I also (to an extent) agree with Thereminstrel's comments regarding the distastefullness of placing links to "bad" videos, for the sole purpose of mirth and mockery.. But I did actually enjoy the last link Peter posted - To me, it was extremely entertaining.

Posted: 7/30/2009 8:10:10 PM

From: san francsico

Joined: 7/29/2009

If you want just intonation and a well-tempered scale use a synthesizer. You can sample a theremin and sound just perfect. Better yet, have a computer sequencer play the music for you. Better than that, just play back a fully mixed, tweaked and processed audio file.

You know why orchestras sound so good?

Because all the instruments are a little off tune. If you want perfection, play back a MIDI file of your favorite orchestral piece. Listen to it over and over again.

When was the well tempered scale adopted? Would you prefer 18th century plumbing too?

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.