something i just thought about

Posted: 4/18/2005 9:31:04 PM

From: chicago illinois

Joined: 2/15/2005

if you read this keep in mind i know absolutely nothing about electricity and i am sure this question is completely idiotic but...i was thinking that since certain materials do not have the same electric capabilities if some people are not able to create a strong enough electric current to be a good theremin player??
Posted: 4/19/2005 2:07:29 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

An interesting thought... Though with the theremin, you end up grounding out the circuit rather than generating a current. I've heard people say their theremin playing changed when the lost weight, so perhaps your mass/density has something to do with it.
Posted: 4/20/2005 1:44:27 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

It is the impure water in your body that allows you to conduct electricity, because of the ions that form when compounds like salts dissolve in your body's water supply.

You would have to have no impurities in your bodily fluids in order to not conduct electricity, and if that were the case the you'd most probably be dead.
Posted: 4/26/2005 7:11:38 PM

Joined: 3/20/2005

I thought your body acted as a resistor for the Theremin electric field, but I don't know much about electricity either. :)
What I can say is YES it is clear that different people have differing degrees of effect on the Theremin, for whatever reason. Pamelia Kirstin does things I can mimic, for example, but I don't get nearly the same effect from the antennae. After careful observation, I have had to conclude that its a physical difference.
Posted: 4/27/2005 12:18:21 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

The theremin works on the change in capacitance between your body and the antenna.
Two things affect capacitance...surface area and the distance between the surfaces. Obviously changing the distance is what changes the volume/pitch of the theremin. However, the size of your body (surface area), including the parts you don't use to play (torso, etc.), greatly affects how the theremin responds to each individual.
I've often wondered why it seems that the players with the finest control (Clara Rockmore, Pamelia Kurstin, Lydia Kavina, etc.) are the thinner, petite women. (Aside from talent, practice and dedication.)
Posted: 4/28/2005 9:16:17 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I would guess that not having a beer gut waving around in front of the pitch antenna helps a lot....
Posted: 5/2/2005 8:04:15 PM

Joined: 3/20/2005

This forum reminds me of a quote I just read in an old magazine article (1950's) about the Theremin. An engineer said "Funny thing about the Theremin. Folks who make 'em don't play 'em, and the folks who play 'em don't know how they work!"
Some things endure. :)
Posted: 5/4/2005 11:13:52 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

That's great! I hadn't heard that quote before. It's SO true!
Posted: 5/12/2005 7:41:21 AM

Joined: 5/12/2005

There's an interesting theremin anecdote in John Szwed's Sun Ra biography, "Space is the Place". When Ra visited Moog's lab in the mid-60s, he found that he was unable to coax any sound whatsoever from a perfectly working theremin Moog had set up. The Moog engineers were perplexed, and were finally forced to admit that theremins responded differently to "skin resistance".

Sun Ra later joked about this incident, saying, "see? Even machines can be racist!"

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