Ah... vocal formants!

Posted: 11/15/2013 2:55:44 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010


Oh. My. God.


I am laughing pretty hard here.



The Pringle Guy wrote: "Jason started the EFFECTS forum at explorer's request because the gentleman presumably wanted to discuss this "host of things" he says he has been applying to the theremin. I guess now we will never know what they are.....why do I get the feeling this is no great loss?



Posted: 11/15/2013 3:04:36 PM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010

For what it is worth, here are my unworthy thoughts on your last reply, Explorer.
May you find what you are looking for!


I hate fighting uphill battles.
Why do you say that? I thought we have been pretty nice to you so far, right?

Ah, well... I thought I was signing up on the theremin discussion board, and was excited to join others who were pursuing the same, and maybe create that same excitement for those who would come later, looking for the same board I believed I had found.
You have found a GREAT board. Have you looked through the archives? Can't you see that this forum is jam packed with amazing information about whatever you can think of when it comes to the theremin? This forum is very informative and the contributors have been so giving by sharing their thoughts on certain things that would need to pay to get answers for.

I have a host of things I've been working with, specifically with the theremin, and was hoping to talk about the theremin being used with and through them. I don't have the energy to keep things on-topic when so many don't want the same though, and so I'll not contradict the established members.
The "established" members have a pretty thick skin. You can tell the what you feel like, and they will listen. Doen't mean they'll agree with what you say. Expect lots of debates and thread derailments on this forum (for that matter ALL forums are like that!) and quite frankly, I adore that aspect cause it gives you the chance to get to know other people.


It's a shame, though... I would have thought that something called Theremin World would have members who would want to nurture that kind of interest in the actual theremin, and thereby help the instrument grow as something other than a novelty.
Personally, if we try to alter the theremin's voice to something else than what it is ~ the theremin will always stay a "novelty". The cello has its own voice ~ so does the theremin. I love it for what it is. I make it work! (We can go on and on with that I guess, I should stay on subject though and not derail this thread)

I'll look elsewhere. Cheers!
Where would that be? Who wants to bet we'll see this same thread on Levnet?

Posted: 11/15/2013 4:04:45 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

What I love about our community is that we can all speak our minds, and we're open to new ideas.  At least that's what I like to believe ;) 

I've seen performances of distorted cello with heavy effects.  While not my personal cup of tea, it served a niche very effectively, and I appreciate that.

I don't run Theremin World to promote only one way to use the theremin (though I do have a personal bias towards "intentional" music vs. woo woo novelty noise). I want our community to push the envelope, literally, and explore new ways for the theremin to be used in music.  If you see what some folks like the Lothars or Wilco Botermans are doing with theremin + FX, you'll realize that there is real depth to their composition and performance, even if they don't sound like Clara Rockmore.

I really appreciate the theremin purists, and I really appreciate those who are trying new things.

Posted: 11/15/2013 7:16:20 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

I initially held off, but now feel somewhat more at liberty to say:

This is a great thread ... for me to poop on!

Just kidding!  I eat up all talk of vocal simulation and I believe it's one of the big draws of the Theremin.

And honestly, one can view the tendency of threads to meander here at TW (and elsewhere I might add) as a feature or a bug.  I see it more as the former.  There's a lot of background one can only get via the asides and digressions of others who have been more plugged into the scene long-term.  [EDIT] And I ain't one of 'em, so thanks very much y'all!

Posted: 11/15/2013 9:01:02 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

"being able to refer easily to this thread will make it a lot easier." - Gordon

"LOL ;-) You hope.... Second to theremins, vocal synthesis is probably the next most quirky electromusic undertaking one can engage in, IMHO.." - Fred

Dammit. I really know how to pick them. Fortunately I'm not answerable to anyone, so if the project goes pear shaped and I accidentally make something else entirely that will be OK as long as I like it. ;-)

"One tip - the easiest satisfactory excitation waveforms I have found are 1/2 wave rectified triangle or ramps.. Or at least these are the simplest to implement in analogue circuits."

OK. I'll be doing in in software. (Audulus - so I can develop on my mac and then transfer it to my iPad and make a front panel using TouchOSC.)

Downside of my choice is that it only has a basic set of primitives. I'll be making bandpass filters out of low pass filters and maths. Like this: http://youtu.be/T1byXrMT0qw


P.S. Fred, did I tell you that I dreamt of a backwards theremin - the loop circuit generates variable amplitude white noise and the rod circuit filters it to a pitch...

Posted: 11/16/2013 1:30:21 AM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

<< The following purple and green are OT and completely OTT !! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"I don't have the energy to keep things on-topic" - Explorer

[as in, I only want my ideas to be presented - and the only contribution I want others to make is agreement with / praise for my ideas]

"when so many don't want the same though"

[damn right we dont! - I dont think anyone wants to partake in a thread but not be allowed to ask questions or venture opinions without fear of censure because what they say may be percieved as slightly off topic]

"I'll not contradict the established members."

[Paraphrased - I dont want to discuss anything at any depth because I really dont know much  - and I want the topic rigidly constrained to my comfort zone.. I resent "established members" because many are open to new insights, and am irritated because I have little or nothing to give them -  I am an empty vessel which just makes the same noise they have heard before.  I want to be respected for this noise. I am not willing to put in the required effort expand my mind and to earn respect ]

[enclosed] comments above are how I interpret Explorers statements, and / or are my reaction to these statements. All are my opinion only.


Ho Hum... Yet Another person with a personality disorder is pulled in by the theremin worlds "gravity" - but it seems they entered with too much velocity and either burned up in the "atmosphere" or bounced off and are headed into outer darkness! - Or perhaps he was just misunderstood, and everything he did was just for EFFECT..

IMO, there is justifiable reason for us remaining "inmates" to react vehemently to the utter BS in "explorer's" last post.. But I have a feeling he has been here before in another guise (he was far bolder than most normal newbees) - in fact, I strongly suspect perhaps he is still here in a slightly less "troll-like" form...  it matters not.. The Effects forums creation was a great idea, and IMO the discussion here has been (apart from the one OT from Explorer) high quality and useful.  "Explorer" - If you are reading this, GET HELP! - You aint quite "right"


"P.S. Fred, did I tell you that I dreamt of a backwards theremin - the loop circuit generates variable amplitude white noise and the rod circuit filters it to a pitch..."- Gordon

Not sure if you did - I think perhaps you did.. What you are suggesting can be done easily with a CV-outputting theremin.. Noise into a VCF in bandpass mode, CV from pitch voltage.. VCF feeds VCA, CV for VCA from volume voltage (or one could have noise -> VCA -> VCF) ..

All sorts of lovely noise based sounds under theremin control can be achieved with the above  - wind, rain, wind instruments - selecting LP of BP and adjusting the filter Q..

Or you can get noise effects more simply by having a CV input to ones HF theremin reference oscillator, and putting noise into this (noise FM) at adjustable level..



Posted: 12/11/2013 11:16:42 AM
All Souls Night

Joined: 5/22/2012

There are some thereminists who use the TM much of the time. I believe Sarah Rice uses it a lot, and I noticed that thereminist Rob Schwimmer used it when he played on CBS SUNDAY MORNING. 


I don't use it nearly as much as I used to, now that the Subscope is working properly -- it has the timbre of a crystal flute and the etherwave that got Thierrified has more of a string timbre. I use the TM more when I am doing vocal music on the theremin. Funny though, when I do use the TM people think I am humming to make the sound.


Posted: 12/11/2013 2:24:42 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

You'll get that a lot from audiences if you "sub-vocalize" or move your lips unconsciously when you play the theremin (as I did for a long time). In your imagination you're singing, and your body is going through the motions silently.

This gives an uninitiated audience the impression that you are a ventriloquist!

Posted: 12/12/2013 2:11:20 AM

From: Brooklyn

Joined: 8/15/2009

I've used mine a lot more since I bought it...

I like it! What can I say... I recently did a soundtrack for 1928 silent short Fall of the House of Usher for live theremin in which I go back and forth w. the TM for different characters... Kinda fun. Doesn't make much sense sans picture. I also used it last week on the Prelude from Tristan (followed by Liebstod on Continuum.)

I am the yodeling ventriloquist! But I'm trying to change that--First step: I got a turtleneck!


Posted: 12/12/2013 2:14:11 AM

From: Brooklyn

Joined: 8/15/2009

Coalport wrote,

Of the nine presets available, the only single formant that seems to work with the theremin is the open "AH" (12 o'clock on the VOICE dial), all the other sounds are too nasal, too twangy, or too pinched, and sound sort of cartoonish and silly (which is O.K. if that is what you're looking for).

That makes sense, given that most sung music which uses only a vowel is an "ah" sound. Unless you're a huge fan of "Hocus Pocus," by Focus. *laugh*

Coalport wrote,


For precision players, most of the time an effect is a means to an end, an enhancement, and is not the real focus of what they are doing. For the FX and experimental communities, often the effect IS the end.


The great irony is, the thermin is often that "effect" fwhich gets tossed in. Like Dr. Tanner noted about his gigs for electro-theremin, he got used when it was about space, ghosts, or someone being drunk.


I think the two major soundtracks it got used for in the past decade were "Ed Wood" and "Mars Attacks!," both Tim Burton films.


Theremin playing has always been considered an effect by almost everyone outside of a virtual handful of players. At least one article I've read here about one historical theremin talked about the antenna being replaced with something (lightning bolts, IIRC) which was terrible for actual precision playing, but great for appearance.


Coalport wrote,


There are some thereminists who use the TM much of the time. I believe Sarah Rice uses it a lot, and I noticed that thereminist Rob Schwimmer used it when he played on CBS SUNDAY MORNING. 


I suspect that they used them to escape from that "sci fi" vibe which is instantly conjured up for the average person  by the theremin's sound. As "cartoony" as one might think the Talking Machine, it's less of a caricature than the theremin.


Honestly, that's why I started experimenting with different timbres. And it works in terms of instant acceptance. I have one patch on the PX5D which sounds like the Chinese erhu, a two-stringed fiddle. A Vietnamese friend came over and heard it from outside. She came in and said, "I heard you playing the đàn gáo (the Vietnamese equivalent)! Where is it?" It's not so much about the sci fi aspect, at least I believe.


(Wow, I am wordy! I just saw how long my original post was! *laugh*)


I wasn't trying to escape anything... I just like the way it sounds...


You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.