Newbie contemplating first instrument / potential theramini

Posted: 3/30/2019 2:49:46 PM
the sparrow

From: Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Joined: 3/30/2019

I wonder if you can help a potential newbie out.

I am dealing with a keyboarding injury in my back that has knocked me out of commission for a while.

Meanwhile I want to continue to make music.
My interests are in ambient / soundscape  / drone / minimalism
but also medieval plainsong.

I also have a lot of hearing damage that makes me sensitive to loud sounds.

The idea of a theramin is attractive to me for a few reasons.
-its a non contact and therefor non impact instrument
-I've always thought they were especially cool
-as it is electronic I have control over keeping the volume lower

I am attracted to the moog theramini because
-entry level price
-the note quantizing will get me up to speed sooner
-the synthesizer means I can vary tone color which can help ease the load on my hearing

All this being said I have some questions

1. Does the midi out mean I can drive external synthesizers? Like a soft synth on my PC?
2. Have the early issues with response latency been addressed, making the instrument useful for playing melodic music.
3. Can you play it reasonably close to behaving like a 'real' theramin if desired.
4. Might it be used as a stepping stone to a 'real' theramin one day? Like a moog etherwave?

Any feedback appreciated.

Posted: 3/30/2019 4:24:39 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Hi Sparrow,

Here’s my take on the questions you posed in your post.

1. First and foremost, there is no letter ‘a’ in the word “theremin”.

2. Yes, the theremin is a non-impact instrument, but that does not mean that thereminists are never plagued by injuries. Carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, tendinitis and even knee and foot problems from standing immobile for extended periods are often reported.

3. I agree, the theremin is an especially cool instrument. 

4. You do have control over volume output, and using headphones you could practice in the middle of the Winnipeg Public Library and not disturb a single soul! 

5. Note quantizing, in spite of what Moog Music claims, will not help get you “up to speed” on playing the instrument with precision. In fact, it may even slow you down because it can very easily become a crutch. 

6. I had a THEREMINI for a few months when they were first introduced because I was curious about the instrument. I believe you can control certain MIDI receivers using the MIDI OUT port but I can’t recall exactly what the limitations are. Someone else will have to go into that.

7. Latency is built into the hardware of the instrument (it was one of the reasons I got rid of my THEREMINI) but it will probably not even be noticeable to someone playing at the beginner level. 

8. Yes, the instrument will behave more or less like a traditional heterodyne theremin if you wish it to.

9. If it is your intention to eventually graduate to an Etherwave theremin, why not start with an Etherwave?  

In regard to the THEREMINI, here’s what thereminist Carolina Eyck said about it - I paraphrase: ‘The THEREMINI is a great instrument to take to a party because you can have fun with it.’

Posted: 3/30/2019 4:30:10 PM
the sparrow

From: Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Joined: 3/30/2019

Thanks for the feedback Mr. Coal port.

Can I take it you live in Winnipeg?

Posted: 3/30/2019 4:32:55 PM
the sparrow

From: Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Joined: 3/30/2019

Oh and sorry about the spelling. I am a newbie in more ways than one I guess LOL


Posted: 3/30/2019 5:35:25 PM
the sparrow

From: Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Joined: 3/30/2019

Also, I think at this point I am particularly attracted to the theremini for the synthesizer aspect.  I know the etherwave plus has CV output for analogue synth but that's a whole other ballgame, and a substantial investment for something I may not even be ultimately interested in or any good at.

Posted: 3/30/2019 7:00:01 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Hi sparrow,

I don’t live in Winnipeg. I live in Quebec but I have been to Winnipeg more times than I can count!

The Rolls Royce of theremins is, IMNSHFO, the Moog MIDI Ethervox which provides extensive MIDI control and has both MIDI IN, and MIDI OUT ports but these are rare and expensive when they do come up for sale. I get the impression your mind is made up as to what you want to buy.

One thing you might eventually want to check out is Randy George’s “MIDI Merlin” software (link below) which accepts audio input and converts it to MIDI output. I have used it and it is amazing.

Not to discourage you from buying a theremin, but you should also investigate the Haken ContinuuMini. The Eagan Matrix sound engine in it is awesome.

Posted: 3/31/2019 2:38:42 PM
the sparrow

From: Winnipeg Manitoba Canada

Joined: 3/30/2019

Thanks man.
 I guess I am quite transparent.  Yes I went and bought one yesterday.

I love it. Realizing fully that it in many ways falls short of a true theremin, for me it is a good fit, for now.

Thing is, already I feel the bud growing that may lead me to a more traditional instrument.

I'm hoping this is the start of something

Again, I appreciate your input.

Posted: 4/1/2019 5:00:51 PM

From: earth

Joined: 5/8/2017

Don't use quantizing to get pitchy, use a delay pedal and learn to keep in tune with what is being played back.

Going slightly off pitch is expression. Learn to hold a note steady and wait before applying vibrato - first hit the mark, then express.

If you want to avoid injury, don't play Flight of the Bumblebee without a slicer. Playing fast can lay you up for a year.

Don't play Flight of the Bumblebee ever.

The traditional antenna arrangement is difficult at best. Like "walking a tightrope."

I prefer the sidewalk.

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