Alternating Knuckle Extension Method

Posted: 6/27/2012 1:18:30 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

"I think that Pringle guy is a pompous pain the ass! Who the hell does he think he is anyway?!"

Sometimes, I feel that you have no feelings at all. I understand how it is to "lay it out just the way it is" but sometimes, it is callous and would make any newcomber run and burn its theremin because "the one" has spoken and said that it will be an almost impossibility to play this instrument well. We must be careful since we never have a second chance to make a first impression. i'll be honest here, when I joined here and started to read your posts, I thought they oozed uptightness, control in a dictator-ish kind of way, I was highly intimidated to post anything because I was scared you'd ram me over! Why do that? The theremin community is small as it is and I think we need to help and encourage each other in this journey rather than being thrown around by fear of failure. Obviously, the ratio of good player to bad player is incredibly small, but I welcome anyone who wishes to try this instrument and give it a go. I remember when I joined here, I was highly reminded that I will most likely fail at it because I was never trained at any other instrument. Luckily, I have nice people around me who I can surround myself with their positive words and encouragements. A lot of people do not have that luxury and they come here for that. I'll try my best to encourage rather than to deter.

"Why do people take him so seriously? I certainly don't."

Well, that's nice that YOU don't take "him" seriously ~ you know what goes on in your own head (i sure hope you do, maybe you dont haha) but for people who don't know you and your mind, they will make an opinion of you by the words you write. Since they cannot see you face to face, what other option is there?

"Because, whether he knows it or not, he is one of the most skilled theremin players who has ever lived. IMO, He doesnt seem confident of this fact, alas -"

Oh, I am pretty certain that he knows that already. :)

"Seems to be driven to assert his "superiority" even though he has absolutely no need to. Fred."

There are plenty of sayings that can clearly express that (none by Clara Rockmore though) such as "you attact more flies with honey than vinegar" or "being humble is a rare quality to possess" are 2 that come to mind.

So Coalport, could you please relay this post to that "Peter Pringle" guy for me? I'd appreciate that :) 

Posted: 6/27/2012 2:37:21 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

"In my 10 years of theremin research I have often stated the theremin she makes me suffer, as nothing for me comes easy. Forgive me if I alienate myself through coarse communication as words are not always my friend. Promise me that you won’t condemn because you just don’t know the condition I am in. Though hell-bent on perfectionism, often I experience a high degree of loneliness. You don’t know me or understand my blues until you have walk in my shoes."

Applies to many of us . . .


Posted: 6/27/2012 3:01:49 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

I for one have had a bit of trouble understanding how my on-line persona comes across to others.  And it doesn't help that, for whatever reason, it occasionally skirts into Mr. Hyde territory when I'm not looking. :)

Posted: 6/27/2012 3:54:55 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

Levnet is a different animal altogether. Because I chopped the legs of my Wavefront theremin (Oh blasphemy!) I was called by this elder fuddy-duddy a "Stupid Dumb blonde" for doing this simply because I wanted to play my instrument! No one on Levnet (and they are mostly men) ever said something as "Mr. A$$man", that was highly inapropriate, let's be respectful of the very few ladies on here and understand she has physical limitation. I was LIVID and INSULTED to say the least. I am a very kind and generous person, but c'mon! Insulting me will activate the inner bitch from time to time! And for that Levnet is like a really bad cavity in my mouth. The Fuddy gave me the 1st impression of Levnet as a misogynistic place and that probably will never change in my eyes. Seems that Levnet is filled with  many self absorbed and very "I love me a lot and I want the other to stroke my ego too" theremininists place to congregate at. I should unsubscribe actually. Instead of having dozens of daily emails which its primary goal is to laugh at many thereminist videos ~ I should go practice more and get better at the craft we are supposed to help each other with. No wonder why all the virtuosos are NOT active on Levnet. I've never seen Lydia, Pamelia, Randy posting on there. Gee... I wonder why?!

And for videos on YT, seems that several "amazing" and prominent thereminists do not post on other thereminist videos. Why is that?! Are they fearing rivalry, oh no! someone might get better than themselves? I post comments on several "amazing theremininists" and a lot of them do not even bother to reply to you with a "thank you for watching ~ I am glad you enjoyed" as a courtesy. Feels that they are too good for us mortals and lowly thereminist wanna be's. Truth is, there are several GOOD theremin players out there and should deserve some recognition too! Geez... am I pi$$ed off? No, just frustrated with the mighty high attitude of some people in general. it's frustrating!

Fred ~ I am glad that you and that Peter Pringle guy like each other and are on good terms. As for me, to be able to "enjoy" someone fully, I have to see and feel respect from that person. Until that happens, there are no waste of time for me! ( Not implying that I am referring to Peter here, mostly how I do in my personal life)

Posted: 6/27/2012 5:47:22 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Regarding the knuckle extension technique, I set the note spacing on my theremin so that from hand closed to knuckles fully-extended equals a fourth.

I am in good company -- a number of noteable thereminists tune this way including Clara Rockmore, Peter Pringle, and Pamelia Kurstin.  There are likely others -- I've watched the first two in videos and the latter in person.

Carolina Eyck's technique specifies a ninth from closed position to fingers fully-extended.  This technique works for her.  For me, I find it harder to control the vibrato and harder to arrive at the correct pitches.  Many people use this technique and it may be necessary to handle Carolina's (advanced) repertoire.

Regardless of technique -- the knuckle positions can only get one close to the correct pitch -- one must listen and make constant, minute adjustments to pitch.

And therein is the issue: that some people can listen to a recording of their own playing and are able to to assess the performance's accuracy and others cannot.  If one is unable to assess one's own performance, then one risks an inflated opinion of it.  This means that capable thereminists often fret over their own intonation issues while others may be thrilled with their own out-of-tune efforts.

And to point out the above sounds kind of mean-spirited -- and it really isn't meant that way.  A possible solution is to play for trusted musicians who will give objective, unfiltered comments.  The problem with YouTube, TW, Levnet -- etc -- is that one subjects one's self to public criticism/humiliation.  Thus, private lessons or coaching sessions may be more beneficial than to post something publically.

As for me, I haven't posted any of my own theremin performances to YouTube.  I guess I don't want to face the reality that my video would get a couple of hits while videos such as "the people of Walmart" or "Hot girl farting" will get millions of hits.

It's admittedly an ego thing.  I would like to feel that one of my music compositions -- the result of untold hours of work -- is more "worthy" of someone's time than a fart video.

I like to play games that I have a chance of winning -- and YouTube isn't one of them.

Posted: 6/27/2012 5:52:08 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

You will always win for me, Kevin. I hold you with high regards because your actions and words cultivate respect and trust. :)

Posted: 6/27/2012 5:53:27 PM

Joined: 5/15/2012

Wow, that got nasy fast


"REMEMBER, everybody is an expert and everyone's opinion is as valid as anyone else's - and that applies even to people who haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about!"

I guess that means that I haven't the slightest idea what I'm talking about....nor Jeff S.....nor Jo..."

Honestly, I probably DON'T have the slightest idea what I'm talking about.  I just started playing.  I was talking about the technique I've been using (with the disclaimer that it probably won't work for everybody), just as an example of what may be possible.  Everybody's hands are different, therefore everybody's fingering positions will be different.

I'm trying to tread very carefully here and not try to say anybody should try things the way I'm doing them, specifically because I haven't posted any videos of me playing anywhere.  However, the reasons I haven't posted any videos of my theremin playing anywhere have nothing to do with my lack of confidence in my own ability, but more because I have been told that I should first be evaluated by a thereminist whom I trust, which is kind of hard to come by, and gotten the impression that I won't be taken seriously regardless of my ability because I haven't been playing very long and haven't taken lessons from anyone.  The critical environment here for beginners is pretty hostile compared to that of other instruments.  Maybe that contributes to the difficulty everybody keeps talking about in picking up the intrument.

Posted: 6/27/2012 6:00:51 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

" The critical environment here for beginners is pretty hostile compared to that of other instruments.  Maybe that contributes to the difficulty everybody keeps talking about in picking up the intrument."

You got that right! :) 

Posted: 6/27/2012 6:51:51 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

"because I have been told that I should first be evaluated by a thereminist whom I trust, which is kind of hard to come by..."

My suggestion was to play for a musician that you trust.  Doesn't need to be a thereminist -- just someone who will provide feedback who's opinion you trust.  This is suggested as an alternative to posting publically -- not as some kind of requirement.

Also, you aren't looking for an "evaluation".  Just observations: "i.e. -- check the rhythm in measure three -- make sure the high 'a' in measure five isn't flat -- or, did you really want so much vibrato in measure eight?"

The theremin is difficult (at least, it is for me) -- even for those who possess perfect pitch and/or excellent relative pitch.  There is no need to feel bad when things aren't just right.  To play the theremin well is a continual challenge.

Anyway, don't be discouraged by anything I or someone else has written.  Honestly, I would feel bad if you found my comments to be discouraging because they are made in good faith.

Posted: 6/27/2012 7:09:43 PM

Joined: 5/15/2012

Honestly, I would feel bad if you found my comments to be discouraging because they are made in good faith.

You put too soft of an edge on everything to possibly be discouraging, even if it was possible to discourage me. And I think it was actually PP who said it to me anyway.

What I'm really getting at here anyway is the whole attitude of "You wanna play a theremin? You'll NEVER play the theremin!" that seems to radiate from a lot of more experienced thereminists when we beginners start talking about anything.  You don't get that from guitarists or saxophonists or pianists. 

I know I'm gonna get stomped for saying this, but I've had much bigger struggles learning to play other instruments, with or without instruction.  Just getting a musical sound out of a woodwind or a bowed instrument, or a chord out of a guitar, took me a lot longer than playing a scale in tune on a theremin, and some of those instruments I went on to play pretty well after a few months.  I guess I just haven't found the point in theremin playing where the learning curve gets steep yet, but I've already been playing with and in front of other musicians for a couple of weeks now, and they all are pretty impressed with my progress.

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