Must we always look like zombies when we play theremin?

Posted: 12/4/2012 6:37:22 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

"This is why I highly recommend the official Theremin World "Don't poke your eye out" antenna ball :)" - Jason

Perhaps you could produce a smaller, glazed, eye-shaped version for those who foolishly failed to obtain a "Don't poke your eye out" antenna ball.


Posted: 12/4/2012 6:51:09 PM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

I hesitate to advertise this crowd but for all that, they sell out venues...



(PS-I don't have anywhere nearly enough professional street cred nor am I sufficiently well heeled to be considered as a member of this orchestra. I play in a MUCH better amateur orchestra and yes, we go down to the pub too!)

Posted: 12/5/2012 2:40:50 AM

From: usa

Joined: 1/27/2008


We are trying to look like zombies!!

Posted: 12/5/2012 11:20:08 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Fred: I dont think the matter hinges so much on a persons ability or inability to determine pitch deviation, I think it is probably more to do with what level of deviation they can accept before it becomes bothersome enough to "overpower" the enjoyment they get from the "intangibles".

People who can identify pitch deviation usually say so: "It's a bit sharp but not enough to bother me".

Those who cannot identify it say, "It sounds great to me!"

The problem is, everyone THINKS they have a good sense of pitch but it's like having spinach on your front tooth. You won't know about it until someone else tells you. Even then there's a good chance you won't believe them. 

Posted: 12/5/2012 11:49:38 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

RoyP: I hesitate to advertise this crowd but for all that, they sell out venues...


There has always been a market for variety artists who are so bad they're funny. Here are Jonathan Edwards and his lovely wife Darlene, singing that old standard IT'S MAGIC.

Jonathan & Darlene Edwards were hugely successful doing this type of thing back in the 1960's. In reality, both of them were fine professional musicians (Paul Weston and Jo Stafford) but they did better playing for laughs than playing seriously.

Then there are the people who really are bad (Florence Foster Jenkins, Mrs. Miller, etc.) but sincerely believe they are brilliant. These sorts of acts are successful because we all love to laugh at others, and it makes us feel superior.



Posted: 3/4/2013 11:17:22 PM

From: Hampshire UK

Joined: 6/14/2012

A fair bit earlier in this thread Coalport wrote:-

Clara Rockmore, in an interview about learning the theremin said, "Playing the theremin is's not easy."

It is obvious she was about to say, "Playing the theremin is blood, sweat and tears" but decided that such an expression was indelicate and unladylike.


I think Peter what she was really going to say was "Playing the theremin is bloody difficult" but being a lady as you said, she amended the wording!!!!

Posted: 3/5/2013 11:23:36 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Americans do not use the word "bloody" as a figurative adjective the way the British do. An American might say, "That man was in a fight and got a bloody nose." but would not say, "That man should keep his bloody nose out of other people's business." 

It is odd that Clara Rockmore, who moved to New York with her family when she was 10 years old, never lost her Russian accent. At times, she would even resort to that typically "foreign" expression, " shall I say......" whenever she was at a loss for words. One would think that with Clara's musical ear, her Russian accent would have disappeared after her first year in America.

Clara's older sister Nadia did not speak with a Russian accent.

Actor Daniel Massey, godson of the late Sir Noel Coward, played the part of his "Uncle" Noel in a film called STAR with Julie Andrews (badly miscast as Gertrude Lawrence). Noel attended the premiere of the movie and afterward Daniel rushed up to him to ask what he thought of the way he was portrayed in the film.

Sir Noel replied, "Too many 'my dear boy's', my dear boy!"

Posted: 3/6/2013 12:52:32 PM

From: Toronto, Ontario

Joined: 3/6/2013

The same "look" is observed with lots of musicians playing other instruments. As someone said, it's the "I am focused" look, like if all of your brain is into the music and puts the facial expression into "neutral" mode.

Posted: 3/6/2013 4:09:38 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

You're right roguewave. The theremin, as a precision instrument, is arguably the most difficult musical instrument to play that has ever been invented so the thereminist must not only concentrate on the music, but on the extremely difficult job of remaining more or less in tune as well.

Just to make things worse, there is the "snowball effect". If you play a sour note, it will spawn other sour notes because part of our brain (and we need ALL of it when we play the theremin) is no longer concentrating on playing, but is instead busy experiencing the anger and disappointment of having fucked up!


Posted: 3/6/2013 4:44:40 PM

From: Toronto, Ontario

Joined: 3/6/2013

Remember what Louis Armstrong said, which seems to apply well to theremin playing:

"Never play the same tune the same way twice".

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