"A Scanner Darkly"

Posted: 7/11/2006 8:45:40 AM

From: washingtondc metro area

Joined: 2/8/2006

Excellent movie, the "catch" is nothing that hasn't been obvious to anyone with a three digit IQ since the 1980s but the machinations of the drug war isn't what will thrill you, there be theremins in the soundtrack. Early on you will note the loose hand style which is impossible to emulate with a pitch bend on a synth. Those are hands, waving around the antennas. two of them playing a duet or multitracked. Graham Reynolds does the soundtrack.

Excellent work by all parties involved.

Do not expect to be able to hum the theremin tunes on the way out of the theatre.
Posted: 7/11/2006 10:29:29 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Some of the music that appears on The Golden Arm Trio's mySpace profile I agree sounds very thereminy.


But their blog (http://blog.myspace.com/thegoldenarmtrio) gives a full list of musical credits for the film. It does not include a theremin.

Most puzzling.

Posted: 7/11/2006 1:55:19 PM

From: washingtondc metro area

Joined: 2/8/2006

i have played in the style that i heard and i find it hard to believe that there is a control method other than getsural that would accomplish the same effect. the composer does play theremin.

if it is not a theremin than someone took a great deal of effort to duplicate what is trivial using the theremin.

i'll go with occam's razor.

the composer is experienced with the instrument.

it may be that the cachet associated with the theremin is not exactly considered to be an asset do to many factors which would be unadvisable to discuss here at length.

and don't call me a thereminist, thank you very much. i have one and i use it but it plays itself and that is plainly clear for anyone to see. i don't even touch the damned thing.


our perceptions are clouded by filters and distortions which protect us from the truth and prevent dangerous communications.

have you ever duplicated a theremin using a synth? i have and it is thoroughly lacking in nuance and depth. the curves generated by the motion of hand and fingers are far more complex than those generated by a pitch wheel.
Posted: 7/15/2006 3:17:04 PM

From: Austin, TX

Joined: 7/15/2006

Hi, I did the music for A Scanner Darkly so I can solve this mystery. What you hear is not a theremin (sorry to disappoint), nor is it a synthesizer. It is actually a musical saw, bowed by the talented Jeff Johnston here in Austin, TX. In one scene there is a mix of 7 different passes he did, reacting to the scene. Another is a layer of 4, creating a haunting saw chord progression. It is used throughout, especially when the character Freck is in a scene.
-graham reynolds
Posted: 7/16/2006 1:12:22 AM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

A-a-a-nd, there you have it, There-Men and Women!
The well bowed musical saw, in the right hands and the right production wizard, can sound like a Theremin.
Posted: 7/16/2006 2:27:49 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Well, don't feel bad, Rupert. I would most likely hear a musical saw and mistake it for a Theremin.

As you mentioned, there is no mistaking a synthesizer, though. A synth can slide from note to note, it can create vibratos, and can vary the volume. However, those elements "fit" together differently on a synth either through the use of envelope generators, foot pedals, or mod wheels.

With a theremin, the sliding, the volume, the vibrato are all completely integrated and gives an different effect than a synth.

One can make one's Theremin sound like a synth by using effects and triggers. To make a synth sound like a Theremin is a pretty tall order!
Posted: 7/16/2006 10:47:00 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Portishead did it... they even credited a theremin on their album "Dummy". It wasn't until all the hubbub after the release that they admitted it was a MiniMoog.
Posted: 7/17/2006 3:52:19 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

You can tell it was not a theremin by the saw-tooth wave.....

Posted: 7/17/2006 5:14:06 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Sigh. Well I saw it coming, someone had to start with the puns, and I mitre known it wood be you. Never mind. I won't fret about it, or make cutting remarks. On the other hand, I won't be dancing a jig about it either.

One thing puzzles me - only seven saws on the track? I was sure there were tenon it...

Posted: 7/18/2006 1:17:18 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005


While some folks cut against the grain, you slice to the heart of the matter, mincing no words. Wood if we all could smooth the rough spots and speak in plane language.

Indeed, you could tell me where to stick it, however let's knot go there.

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