Playing the D-Lev Digital Theremin

Posted: 12/26/2019 10:53:01 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Time for a public service announcement: please ignore the troll(s), they live for attention.

Posted: 12/27/2019 2:47:35 AM

From: Minnesota USA

Joined: 11/27/2015

"You should stop what you are posting as the professionals are not being kind but honest. Work on your sound. For me I think you both are unable to hear accurately,blah blah.." - troll

This coming from someone that is by his own admission tone-deaf.  Self-awareness and irony are apparently not your strong suits.

We are aware of your low opinions of engineers or really anyone that you believe overthinks concepts that are pellucidly clear to you, at least in your own mind.  You have repeated these opinions ad nauseum. 

Now if you have nothing to contribute to this conversation, and you don't, then just bugger off and go play in your own thread that you started a while back so that you could bitch about others freely. You really should rethink this habit of butting into conversations with your cryptic look-at-me posts. You are not offering up sage suggestions in an effort to help the discussion.  You are trolling, plain and simple, and if you think that isn't obvious to those that pay attention, think again.

Better yet, delete your account.  All of your accounts, under all of your aliases.

Posted: 12/27/2019 3:22:10 AM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

Robonil, is the distance to the loop really important. You are not normally looking at it when you play and it is the touching of the loop that destroys most theremins. I think volume control might just be a space you chose for comfort anywhere around a theremin, nothing needs to be seen. This allows for more than one volume control, each doing something different. The audience does not care as they want mysterious with a "fascinating sound". IMHO


Posted: 12/27/2019 11:46:08 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

If you want to be accused of being a troll, all you have to do is tell the truth. Nobody wants to hear the truth. What they want to hear is confirmation of what they already believe to be true. If you give them anything else you had better fasten your seatbelt!

ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR CRITICS. You will learn far more from them than you will from your adoring fans & admirers.

Posted: 12/27/2019 11:56:08 AM

From: Minnesota USA

Joined: 11/27/2015

"But beyond that, I'm not sure how one might combine axis parameters to make them fewer / more basic from a user perspective.  There's a lot of non-linear interaction between them, and the axis "operating points" are rather vague things in the first place. " - Dewster

Eric, I should maybe clarify what I was suggesting.  I was thinking of something more like a lookup table where some predetermined (by experimentation and testing) sets of parameters that can provide volume curves (or pitch linearity curves as well) that are most closely linked to the more tangible user-entered target goals, instead of trying to directly calculate all of the parameters.  For example, if we have arrived at a group of settings for a curve that has a sharp low cutoff with a soft intercept near full volume, let all of those settings be automatically entered if the simpler-to-understand user inputs are asking for something like that.  Or perhaps you just have something like volume (or pitch) presets 0 through 9 that provide automatic setup of parameters (again that have been determined by experimentation) to provide a variety of behaviors described in more detail in the documentation, ideally with graphics showing the response curves.  Simply give a shortcut means of getting to a response curve without manually having to enter all 7 or so parameters.

This could save a lot of trouble for a user trying to quickly get to something that is comfortable to play, and they would still have the option to tweak to perfection if given hints about which parameter affects what. 

Posted: 12/27/2019 2:33:46 PM

From: Berlin Germany

Joined: 4/27/2016


In order to judge where this digital theremin development goes beyond the well-known, you need the opinion of an excellent player who also is familar with the digital technical and math background here.

It is a good example for successful collaboration and work in progress within this forum here. And there are results that can be seriously discussed. 

Posted: 12/27/2019 3:13:21 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Simply give a shortcut means of getting to a response curve without manually having to enter all 7 or so parameters.

This could save a lot of trouble for a user trying to quickly get to something that is comfortable to play, and they would still have the option to tweak to perfection if given hints about which parameter affects what."  - pitts8rh

Yes, that would be good. 

Let me roll-call and discuss the volume axis parameters: 

1. Vcal, exactly like the heterodyne null control on an analog Theremin, mainly influences the sensitivity of the far field.  It gets combined internally with a hidden acal offset which gets recalculated during the (instant and trivial) auto calibrate "routine".  The Vcal knob is normally used for environmental reasons: to compensate for the presence of the player's body and arms and such during the acal.  I use it to linearize the far field, though it can of course be used to shape the far field in order to make it more logarithmic or exponential.  As a "compensating" type control it can't really be assigned a variety of meaningful values in a set of presets intended to shape the field.  Some delta offset to the linear setting could be used, but that would be another knob that does the same thing as Vcal, which could just add to the confusion.
2. Lin is, in truth, probably too subtle to be useful for noticeably / drastically shaping the field (beyond linearizing the already pretty linear near field).
3 & 4. Ofs- and Ofs+ are major influencers, setting the overall location of the field.  One or the other could probably be set "at the factory" more or less they do the same thing from the user standpoint.
5. Sens is another biggie, setting the sensitivity the field.
6. Dith sets the dither strength, which shouldn't normally affect the playing aspects of the volume field.
7. Vrev reverses the sense of the volume field (0:farther=louder; 1:nearer=louder) so it's really more of a mode than a field shaper.

So #1 is kind of out as a preset type parameter, #2 is too subtle, either #3 or #4 could be a constant on the SYSTEM page, #6 shouldn't matter, #7 will probably be set by the user once and for all.  This leaves #3 or #4, #5, and some dinking around with #1, for a total of 3 parameters.  Then knee and vloc rear their ugly heads for a total of 5, but at least they operate on the basic field rather than setting it up, and I think their influence is perhaps ultimately clearer to the user.  These are per-voice user parameters, which also adds to the confusion, but there's nothing really to be done about that.

I must say, adding the volume axis bargraph display to the tuner was a whim / afterthought, a make-work effort for the unused LED driver pins, but it's been invaluable for setting up the volume axis.  I think I pay attention to it as much almost as much as the pitch display.  With another LED serial driver IC, the LED count and display resolution could be easily increased, though physically smaller LEDs would then be called for to fit in the vertical tuner dimension.

With more standardized hardware, some preset tables could be provided in the manual for suggestions here as to obtaining various volume field shapes.  It scares me somewhat that you're arguably the best-case candidate here and you've struggled with the volume field, so what chance would the average Joe have?  Please don't take that isn't an insult, I know and feel bad that I haven't provided you with nearly enough documentation on any of the axis / synth stuff.

This is the era of video, so I'm hoping better docs and some quick videos might help others set the axes.  Again, with more standard hardware the factory settings might be close enough for most to just play it out of the box, with tweaking down the road.  And a variety system presets could be provided with the understanding that Vcal might need some touch-up / special attention.

I'm not 100% happy with 0 as the system preset as it's a bit cryptic.  The SYSTEM page has a few unassigned encoders, and so could perhaps host a system preset subsystem separate from the user preset system.


Excellent advice, but are you unaware of the unrestrained ID running rampant around here?  Offering practical advice is one thing, reflexively shitting on everything is another.  I mean, sometimes a troll is just a troll.

Posted: 12/27/2019 5:45:37 PM

From: Minnesota USA

Joined: 11/27/2015

If you want to be accused of being a troll, all you have to do is tell the truth. Nobody wants to hear the truth. What they want to hear is confirmation of what they already believe to be true. If you give them anything else you had better fasten your seatbelt! -Coalport

Before I address this, I would like to say that I am happy to see that you are still here.  I was hoping that you would weigh in on the D-Lev topics but I'm afraid that everyone can become irritated by pissing wars.  I would just like this to stop, but I won't back down from calling out behavioral BS when I see it interrupting our threads. 

First off, I really think it is wrong to invoke your platitude based on what you may have picked up in this thread.  I'm speaking for myself here, but this type of broad generalization, that nobody wants to hear the truth, is personally insulting.  If you think that I haven't learned to deal with hearing the truth over 35 years of corporate engineering, whether that truth turns out to be right or wrong, then you don't know me.  What I personally don't want to hear are outright negative or passive-aggressive snipes disguised as helpful advice that are really just goading based solely on personal grudges.  And I'm pretty good at recognizing a Dunning-Kruger personality when I see one, and grudge-based helpful advice when I see it.   I have never accused anyone of being a troll before, and I have never even had to deal with a prick like this before, and this goes beyond what you have seen here on theremin world.  Something is really wrong, but if you think the problem is me or Dewster, please look deeper.  A troll is someone who exhibits trollish behavior, not someone who disagrees with me.  Fair enough?

Rant aside, I have a great respect for your opinions as a thereminist, and I know Dewster does as well.  We absolutely would like to hear your opinions, criticisms, and suggestions on the D-Lev, and have you become part of the discussion. 

Posted: 12/28/2019 1:32:58 PM

From: Berlin Germany

Joined: 4/27/2016

It's really, really good. The imagination of a natural instrument is very closely (despite this havn't be the unique goal for a theremin).  Looking at the tone signal forms there are significant changes in overtones with respect to the pitch high. I suppose that comes from the formant filtering? This gives a lot of possibilites for further fine tuning the instrument. Wow!

Posted: 12/28/2019 5:51:54 PM

From: 60 Miles North of San Diego, CA

Joined: 10/1/2014

Peter Pringle once said: (link)

The theremin, on the other hand, is unique among musical instruments because touch is the very thing that is not involved with playing it - and this is what gives the instrument its ineffable and strangely human quality of soul. If you add the element of touch, the destruction of the very quality you are trying to reproduce, is guaranteed. You may end up with a viable sound that is the greatest thing since Jascha’s strad, but it won’t be a theremin or anything even close to it.

The definition of what constitutes a “theremin” has changed over the last twenty years, and now includes a huge variety of electronic sounds that emulate that spooky wobble familiar to fans of 50’s SciFi and horror flix. I have seen and heard dozens of so-called “theremin” performances that have been produced using all sorts of computer software, MIDI modules and what-have-you, and I have noticed something I find quite interesting.

As everyone here knows, I am no shrinking violet, and will not hesitate to say exactly what I think about a theremin performance. When I hear a recording that is billed as a theremin, but is clearly not a theremin, I usually post the following comment to the musician involved.

“Really loved the music, great composition, but that’s not a theremin.”

The remark is not entirely sincere because I usually do NOT like the music but that’s beside the point. If you start by saying that, the person will be so angry they will probably just tell you to go fuck yourself. So I begin with a compliment and a little flattery. The reaction is always the same: “thanks…Y do u say it’s not a theremin?”

In any exchange that follows, the person usually expresses surprise that I could declare with absolute certainty that what I was hearing was not a true theremin but some kind of electronic simulation (something that anyone in this group of dedicated theremin fanatics could identify equally well).

The ability of an emulation of any musical instrument to pass for the real McCoy depends on two things: the quality of the emulation itself, and the familiarity of the listener with the instrument being emulated.

To put the shoe on the other foot, I once played a recording of a theremin emulation of a “walking bass” for a friend of mine who is a professional acoustic bass player, and asked him what he thought about it.

He listened, and replied, “Please tell me you’re kidding!”

oldtemecula's natural theremin sound  though I call my "original design" theremin like.


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