Coalport ~ Talking Machine .. .. ..

Posted: 7/17/2012 3:18:42 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Beautifully done Amethyste!  Bravo!

"In all honesty, I made leaps and bounds in my learning when I got my Subscope, it is by far the most wonderful theremin I have ever played ( I played the Etherwave, the Wavefront and tried a Kees at a random shop in my area)! The linearity is amazing on the Subscope, it's a fantastic theremin, so it makes it easy for learning, IMO." - Amethyste

I really think there would be more Theremin players if they (we) all started out on decent (or at least decently calibrated) instruments.  A generally applicable statement to all instruments I suppose, but even more so to the Theremin IMO.


Posted: 7/17/2012 3:37:24 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

I agree with you Dewster. The unfortunate side of this, though is that not everyone is able to pay between $600-$1,000 for a "better" theremin right off the bat, just to see if you like it. I love my Wavefront (it was my first theremin and put a lot of $$$ to purchase it), but to put it mildly, the theremin is far from being awesome. The linearity is awful and it seems to change from day to day. It's a very picky and unpredictable theremin to play and i still do not know to this day "what" kept me going rather than making it firewood for my furnace.

I have determination I suppose, but when I got my subscope ...........Wow! A new world opened up to me and all of a sudden all the things I was doing on the Wavefront that didn't work great (like my technique style) clicked in a magical minute on the Subscope. The subscope is really thin, and since I am short, it is easy to play when i am right against it. With the Wavefront the cabinet is about 11 inches deep and is not optimal for my physiology...

What I am trying to say, is that even in the pricier theremin range, things are not equal as well. I think starting on an Etherwave or a Burns is a great thing. The theremins are pretty decent for the money you'll pay. I would suggest to wait a good year or so before you want to commit to a theremin upgrade. It would really help thereminists in general if you could walk to a Guitar center and try a various range/brands of Theremins like electric guitars, but it is not the case. I feel sometimes it is a gamble when you choose a theremin sight unseen and all you rely on are sound bytes... Cross your fingers and hope for the best! :P

Posted: 7/18/2012 11:15:00 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Fred: "Its good to know that there are players really mastering the theremin who have the potential to fill the "top slots" as well as, or better than the present top performers."


Most theremin performances are hailed as brilliant if the thereminist manages to stay on key. This is understandable since, with the theremin, staying on pitch is a major accomplishment.

With traditional instruments (and with voice) intonation is taken for granted and performers must distinguish themselves through their artistic expression. With the majority of instruments it is not possible to go off key because the tuning is either fixed by a professional tuner (like the piano or organ) or by the player (the guitar, harp etc.).

For me, "mastery" of an instrument consists of the ability to communicate passion, fire and the entire spectrum of human emotion through playing. This is extremely difficult on the theremin because simply staying on pitch requires so much control there is not a great deal of concentration left over to give to interpretation, and the fear of misfiring and spoiling the moment often keeps us from taking chances. 

This is why Clara Rockmore once said, "You have to be brave to play the theremin."

Theremin playing is like figure skating. No matter how good a skater is, unfortunately the only thing that is liable to be remembered in a performance is the fall! 

This video from "Miss Hypnotique" is wonderful fun:

Posted: 7/18/2012 12:41:58 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

"Most theremin performances are hailed as brilliant if the thereminist manages to stay on key." - Coalport

 I think this is probably true about those who have just "got into" theremins, and who realize how difficult they are - but does it apply to the casual listener? I doubt it.. Most peeps (?) when they see/hear a theremin performance will probably (a) be distracted by the novelty and not notice the intonation (unless it is extremely naff) too much (b) not be "moved" by a mediocre performance (c) only be moved if the performance (which rarely happens) "communicate passion, fire and ...human emotion".

I suspect that those who "get into" theremins seriously (whether they attempt to play one, or just as a listener) will have encountered a truly great performance which got them hooked - They will have heard a performance by a "great" like Clara, Lydia, Yourself or one of the extremely few people who has "the ability to communicate passion, fire and the entire spectrum of human emotion through playing."

And I think (I speak for myself here) one then may go through a phase where "performances are hailed as brilliant if the thereminist manages to stay on key" - but I dont think this "phase" lasts long.

And, to me, this is where Amey's potential to be one of "the greats" stands out - Almost from day 1 of her "exposing" her exploration of the theremin, there was (IMO) passion and emotion in these performances, even if there were pitch "errors". It seems, to me, that as her playing improves, more emotion comes through in what she plays (and "errors" have reduced to a level where, for me, they are either unnoticable or not bothersome)  - There are thereminists who are (IMO) technically far superior - but their performances do absolutely nothing to me.

I first got really hooked on the theremin when I saw Lydia perform - Up until then, I saw the theremin as almost an "accessory" for electronic music 'construction'. I still see a role for the theremin as an electronic music "accessory" and also think some people can convey emotion by using the theremin differently as Gordon does - I certainly prefer to listen to one of Gordons performances than to a performance by someone who is "on key" but leaves me emotionally untouched.


Posted: 7/19/2012 11:40:49 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Fred, when I said that most theremin performances are hailed as BRILLIANT if the thereminist manages to stay on key, I definitely was referring to reactions I have seen from the theremin-playing community. 

We know how difficult it is to play in tune, and we appreciate the courage of someone who is willing to get up in front of a live audience and deliver a performance (and potentially make a complete idiot out of themselves). 

General audiences who know nothing about the theremin will usually applaud a level of playing that they would find unacceptable from a singer or violinist because they are entertained by the novelty of the instrument - not by the virtuosity of the performer.

The novelty factor wears off very quickly with general audiences and anyone depending on it would do well to limit their performance to no more than three or four minutes. Give them 15 or 20 minutes and the cheers turn to jeers!



Posted: 7/23/2012 4:26:08 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Hi all! :)


Our own Amethyste has just been featured at Electro Harmonix site as she uses the Talking Machine! Congrats Amethyste!

Posted: 9/24/2012 11:32:51 AM
All Souls Night

Joined: 5/22/2012

Amethyste thrilled our audiences in a concert she performed in, live, in Wurtsboro this weekend. A beautiful Nessun Dorma and a composition by her husband where she sang and played the theremin called "In Dreams". Everyone loved her playing and singing. There is a real beauty and musicality in her playing and singing. So glad we are becoming fast friends. We had a lot of fun all performing with each other in this concert.

Posted: 9/24/2012 1:35:55 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

... Thank you for inviting me!!! I had so much fun, thank to all the drugs available out there, i was able to fight that dreaded stage fright! Maybe we can do a theremin duet next time... :)

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