Reversing the volume antenna behaviour

Posted: 1/3/2007 7:20:45 AM
Jari Jokinen

Joined: 11/8/2006

I got my first theremin yesterday - Ehterwave Standard (walnut). I can already play music with it!

As I expected, the volume antenna behaviour is somewhat contradicting with my reflexes as a band director. I try to explain: Most often when conducting, left hand up means more volume - just like with thremin, so there seems to no contradiction. However, for example, when playing staccato quarter notes, it feels like the thereminist's left hand is doing the (main) job of the conductor's right hand - which is to give the pulse. When conducting "by the book" (there are exceptions), this pulse should come from downward rather than upward motion. There is the contradiction! I hope you understand, what I mean.

I am certainly going to give the normal theremin technique a fair chance, but reverse volume control appeals to me. There are two options: One can place the left hand under the volume antenna (a la Claude-Samuel LĂ©vine). Alternatively, there seems to be a circuitry modificitian available, which reverses the volume antenna behaviour.

I wonder, if anyone here has tried the modification and what you think about it...

Best regards
Jari Jokinen
Posted: 1/3/2007 9:33:13 AM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

Shueh-li from has both her etherwave and Epro modified so the volume antenna works "backwards".

the "hotroding" manual tells you how to do it for your etherwave.
Posted: 1/3/2007 10:09:00 AM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

page 9 of 16
Posted: 1/3/2007 11:40:36 AM

From: new haven ct.

Joined: 7/8/2005

or you could pluck it, pulling your fingers away from the front. Thats how Pamelia gets her nice staccato attack.
If you reverse your antenna, it would go against your contuctor instints for regular legato playing. I feel in the long run having a smooth overall playing is more important than staccato.
On Levnet there are several players who swear by it that way though

Posted: 1/7/2007 6:18:04 AM
Jari Jokinen

Joined: 11/8/2006

I have now the volume knob turned full clockwise for fast response. I wonder, if that might somehow be a handicap...
Posted: 1/7/2007 7:01:09 AM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

Well, I find it makes the theremin sound rather like a car horn if you put the volume response to ultra-fast.

I don't know which model you have, but certainly the Pro already has a very snappy response, and in order to get any sort of warm crescendo you have to put the sensitivity right down, and turn the amplifier way up. Then you can raise your LH fairly high for dramatic effect, and even if it doesn't make the thing louder, the drama (and obviously wider, more agitated vibrato) will make the audience *think* it's got substantially louder.

For one of my A-level recordings, my teacher pointed out that the dynamic range of the theremin seems much greater in live performance than when heard back on the recording we made. I suspect it has something to do with the visual impact.
Posted: 1/8/2007 7:40:23 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

There is a lot to be said for performer enthusiasm. 'Tis one of the things my piano teacher stresses a lot. "If you appear to be more involved in the piece, the audience will think it sounds better".

Charlie, two things:

a) Can I call you Chuck D, and
b) I trust you're coming to see Dorit?
Posted: 1/8/2007 8:28:13 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005


Before you make any electronic modifications try this:

Put your left hand UNDER the volume antenna. When you play a note, imagine there is a drum head or some other surface under your hand.

I do this sometimes for stacatto playing.

It is not much like conducting but it feels natural for someone like me who plays a lot of percussion.

Posted: 1/8/2007 8:32:47 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005


You are right about the visual impact.

I have a friend who plays keyboard and he was very insistent that it would be better to simply imitate a theremin sound with the keyboard.

He felt that way until he saw me play with one of my other bands and now he gets it. Aside from microtones and expressiveness you can't quite get on a synth there is a definite visual excitement about watching someone play theremin that you don;t get when they are just pressing keys.
Posted: 1/8/2007 10:26:40 AM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

my wife cant stand the 45 second recording of Carolina Eyck on youtube from some TV show but it's one of favorites and i play if often, a few times in a row.

Polly normally throws something at me to get me to stop.

this one

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