My First Theremin Gig at the Landjuweel Festival in Ruigoord (NL) August 2019

Posted: 9/5/2019 12:43:08 AM
DreadVox

From: The Lower Lands (East)

Joined: 6/18/2019

A few weeks ago I did my first full (and planned in advance) gig at the Landjuweel festival in Ruigoord in 'De Salon'. Was supposed to play at 2:00 AM, with an hour time before the previous and me. The previous gig started around 1:00 and at about 2:20 I could start to build up and let my theremin warm up.
I had a percussionist with me for accompanyment, and a bunch of loops in my Loop Station, home recorded with several different instruments to use as backing tracks. Setting up was rather rushed. I Had my Etherwave going into a tube preamp which I use to match te level with what's after it in the signal chain. Next a Vox Valvetronix Tonelab and a Boss RC-202 Loop Station and into 2 DI boxes to the small PA-mixer of the venue. Also had a microphone for speaking. Next time I should probably take the pure theremin signal from the second output of the preamp to a dedicated amp and speaker, positioned where I can hear it well. Not hearing my theremin sound from seperate position and by itself did make intonation more difficult. Monitoring with headphones connected to the loop station was not optimal eather. I was quite nervous and jumpy and got a bit out of communicating with the percussionist and the audience.

It could have been better and it could have been worse, and I'm jotting it down as mainly a learning experience, it was what it was. Taking into account that as far as I know it was the very first time a theremin was presented on this festival (that already exists for over 30 years), and in the village only rarely, earlier this year Fay Lovski had played there but only played a few swoopy sound effects in the last song of her gig, someone who was there told me, and it was my first gig of about 1 hour duration, it was not bad enough to get me totally frustated, and for where i want to go with it not yet good enough, so that keeps me well motivated to keep on playing, practicing and allowing it to grow more into its own form. I did learn what things next time need more careful attention and preparation, and could learn that only by taking the jump and allowing for and accepting that there would be some aspects of error/failure to it. While initially far from satisfied with it, I'm still very glad that i did 'throw myself in before the lions' and it mainly inspires and motivated me to keep at it after letting the emotions settle down. reviewing it and getting feedback on it.

I did already get one theremin playing friend to watch it and comment on it in some greater detail. Non theremin playing people who either where at the performance or saw the video excerpts a friend made and put on Youtube have been telling me they like it.

Comments, tips and critique welcomed. Video excerpts:


Posted: 9/5/2019 12:59:23 AM
DanielMacKay

From: Halifax, Canada (east coast)

Joined: 7/28/2019

This is awesome, DreadVox, you're brave and talented. Also I can't imagine *starting* to perform at 2:20AM!!

Posted: 9/5/2019 1:45:15 AM
DreadVox

From: The Lower Lands (East)

Joined: 6/18/2019

Thank you Daniel,

I am pretty much a night owl concerning my circadian rhythms, but this was indeed stretching it a bit...
It was the only open time slot left when I called the organiser, for next year we will plan it some more in advance and select a better time slot. The organiser of an other festival where I did a short try out surprise performance a few months ago has already invited me, Yeapsystar (also sometimes active on these formums) and Paul, the percussionist for a performance/jam on next year's edition of the festival.

Posted: 9/5/2019 11:53:59 AM
Thierry

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Spam removed

Posted: 9/5/2019 3:13:58 PM
rupertchappelle

From: earth

Joined: 5/8/2017

Excellent first performance - you hit notes, did intervals and played melodically. Talk less in the beginning and learn to put and keep your eyes on the audience, your cerebellum and temporal lobes do not need visual cues to work  I think you are are playing close enough to tone down the vibrato, but that is my preference.

Sounds good for a space jam. Keep it up, you already have a shine. You do not sound like a novice.

Posted: 9/5/2019 11:45:23 PM
DreadVox

From: The Lower Lands (East)

Joined: 6/18/2019

Thank you Rupert,

I'll take your tips into account, and agree that the vibrato may be lessened, nervousness and not hearing my theremin sound well enough at times played some role in it, during practicing and playing in a relaxed mood at home I'm already much more sparingly in the vibrato use, so I agree with that.

thanks for the comments, compliments and tips for improvements, it's appreciated.

Posted: 9/6/2019 12:27:50 AM
DanielMacKay

From: Halifax, Canada (east coast)

Joined: 7/28/2019

I've gotten some comments that I use vibrato too much as well.

I think that we as thereminists look at the classical performers who used extreme vibrato, and we tone it down a bit, but just a bit, but to everyone else it still seems like too much.

Posted: 9/6/2019 12:44:19 AM
DanielMacKay

From: Halifax, Canada (east coast)

Joined: 7/28/2019

DreadVox: If you did it again, would you put less drums on the tape and let the live drummer do more?

Posted: 9/6/2019 5:21:55 AM
DreadVox

From: The Lower Lands (East)

Joined: 6/18/2019

Hi Daniel, I think it's somewhat natural in the beginning when the hand can't accurately hit the pitch right in the center, to oscillate around it and when it's close enough around the center pitch, the brains tend to hear the expected pitch within the melody or interval. When the associated neural connections and networks (what is sometimes called 'muscle memory') form and strengthen, the placements and movents of arms, hand, body posture become more and more transparent, and it becomes more an more like singing, and the movements and gestures will subconsciously coordinate themselves to make the theremin sing and match what you're already hearing with the inner ear and singing with the inner voice. Building and strengthening the connections happens as long as you continue to play and practice, also when during practice it goes all off and wrong. When that happens when I practice I tend to take the comical perspective on it, maybe imagine it as the sound of some silly clowns act, played on a singing saw and that works better than getting frustrated and disencouraged. Even if there are a lot of mistakes, just become aware of them, while allowing them, and the natural feedback loop within the play / practice process can take care of that when allowed. This way we learned a lot of hard things like walking and speaking syllabes, words, language. What I'm aiming for is to get to the point where vibrato or not is optional,or the 'rest vibrato' can be reduced to the point of being practically inperceptible and similar to the natural microtonal pitch variance of a human voice or a bowed string. The missing tactile information is the part that makes it extra challenging, plus that the theremin has no fixed reference or 'open' pitch(es) to fall back on. Keeping it fun and not too boring and frustrating for yourself, also doing just some funny things that don't seem to go anywhere are helping your neurons and synapses to branch out and connect and create the ability to quickly and subconsciously map out your pitch and volume fields and geting to a point where your hands just do the appropriate dance in the air and what comes out matches your inner hearing and singing better and better, and the accuity of hearing pitches and intervals and what is matching and harmonious grows with it too when given attention/awareness.

Regarding the live drummer/percussionist, for a next time I'ld probably leave more room for live drumming and percussion and let those have a bigger part, and when I made/chose the loops I wasn't yet sure if the drummer would participate, also because it would be so late at night.

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