What is an Authentic Theremin Sound?

Posted: 6/9/2011 7:19:06 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

"I find that the closer I am to a sine wave the human ear finds the sound most agreeable, almost an illusion." - Touchless

That depends on the human. I find the pure sine wave sounds pleasant for a few seconds to about a minute. Then, it gets really monotonous and boring. I prefer a much richer timbre, like that from a tube theremin.

"What is an authentic theremin sound?" - Touchless

That depends on your definition of "authentic". One could easily argue that the first theremins made have the "authentic" theremin sound. As stated above, in my opinion that is true. However, there are other models that I think have a pleasant sound.

"Have you ever thought the design of the theremin should appear as something more artistic rather than a box?" - Touchless

We just covered this topic no more than three weeks ago. To answer your question....yes, we have. Any one else?

PS...It is common for activity here to slow significantly during holidays and in the summer when the weather is agreeable. At least for those of us who don't live in balmy southern California.
Posted: 6/9/2011 11:19:10 PM

From: Tucson, AZ USA

Joined: 2/26/2011

Jeff S said:

[i]"Have you ever thought the design of the theremin should appear as something more artistic rather than a box?" - Touchless

We just covered this topic no more than three weeks ago. To answer your question....yes, we have. Any one else? Jeff S.[/i]

Yes Jeff, it was a balmy 65 degrees today, how did you know? I searched an hour, high and low for this thread you mention and could not find it, are you being ornery?
Posted: 6/9/2011 11:24:22 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

65? Niiiiice!

It was 95 here in NH - so humid, you could cut the air with a bread knife!

I listened to your sample - I think the sound is soft... :)
Posted: 6/10/2011 9:13:43 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Moi? Ornery? LOL

I'm sorry you spent so much time looking. It wasn't a dedicated posting for that specific topic. It was an aside within another topic (http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?cmd=p&T=4962&F=3).
Posted: 6/10/2011 9:30:40 AM

From: germany, kiel

Joined: 5/10/2007

Hearing a sine sound out of the Theremin i at first think "lovely", after quite a short time it makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe because of the same sound quality to be heard - hopefully very sometimes - from medical devices (e.g. intensive care unit)..
Something, even a little, crispy could be present in the timbre for me to be kept orientated.
Posted: 6/10/2011 5:30:18 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

"Authentic"? to my ear it is not the timbre but the gliss, no matter how expertly controlled, that makes an element in a piece of music recognizable as a theremin. It's how you know it's not a sampler keyboard or musical saw. You hear the live-ness of the player in how the notes are slurred.

Since it's an electronic instrument, we can change it, and should to fit the demands of the music.
The sine wave is great, and beautiful in many situations, but also often gets buried easily, something with more bite not only cuts through denser accompaniments, but also gives a lot more expression. As the sound blooms under your loop hand a more harmonically rich wave is going to give you more to shape than the simple sine.

And now-a-days I think *Your* Authentic sound is more in your loop than anywhere else.
Posted: 6/10/2011 6:04:11 PM

From: Tucson, AZ USA

Joined: 2/26/2011

Style of play is most important I agree, yet a beautiful voice is more appealing than a square wave output.

I have a neighbor I don’t know selling this item below; not being a musician I just don’t understand the high end mic pre-amps, I don’t want to duplicate Coalport but he has a very nice sound. What unique feature of the high end pre-amp brightens the sound? I can output a mic level! I understand compression and EQ I think. Anyone have an opinion on this product below?

AVALON (http://www.avalondesign.com/vt737sp.html) VT737SP VT 737 microphone preamp compressor.
Posted: 6/10/2011 7:29:55 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

touchless, I own several high end vacuum tube preamps (I do not own an AVALON) and while these units will help you refine your theremin sound, they will not add a quality that is missing from the basic timbre of the instrument. Your sound sample above has a muffled tone without any depth or harmonics. What it needs is some "envelope" to give it dynamic presence and personality.

As one person here pointed out, your theremin sounds like a medical device. Like an "audiometer" - the kind of tone generator ear doctors use to test hearing. It's not MUSICAL yet but it will be when you've done a little more research and some tweaking. DON'T GIVE UP WHATEVER YOU DO!
Posted: 6/11/2011 4:25:19 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I don't hold with "authentic" or "lovely".

It seems to me that choosing a timbre is akin to choosing an instrument.

Which is better, a flute or a trumpet? It depends; do you want to melt the heart of a fair maiden and dance with her in sun drenched meadows or do you want to fire up the blood of the troops and lead them into battle on the killing fields?

In short - the first question is always "What sort of music do you want to play?"
Posted: 6/11/2011 6:50:35 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Touchless, how was your sample recorded? Was it played through an amp and miked, or was it recorded directly into your recording device (probably a computer)?

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