Discovering the Theremin’s Mystery & Stylish Appeal

While poking through the history of synthesizer music, I stumbled upon charming vintage videos like the one above, in which you learn a little about the enthralling, ethereal-sounding theremin. Sounding like a marriage of the violin and a humming human voice, this early electronic instrument was created by Russian inventor Léon Theremin in the 1920s. As you see in the clip, performers would play the instrument through specific hand movements and positioning between two antennas, one of which controls pitch, and the other, volume. Because the human body holds an electric charge, the apparatus picks up the charge from those hand motions, resulting in a sound amplified through a speaker.

Clara Rockmore, theremin virtuoso
Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore. Image via Don’t Panic.

During my browsing, I also came across videos of theremin phenom Clara Rockmore (pictured above). Like the instrument of which she was a virtuoso, Clara is both obscure and enthralling. Once I discovered her, I developed a little bit of a girl crush. Like musical pioneer Delia Derbyshire (known for perfecting the Doctor Who theme), Clara Rockmore and Paula Mary are women we not only admire for their vintage looks, but for talent and mastery of a unique art that now excites and mystifies the curious.

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About Angela

Someday, Angela will be tending to her sheep, llamas and alpacas on the “Yarn Farm” and raising award winning honey bees. Until then, the native Pittsburgher is enjoying all things related to knitting, her cats, Mr. Spock, red lipstick, and creativity. Writing is her first true love.

3 Responses to Discovering the Theremin’s Mystery & Stylish Appeal

  1. Shell @ Kitty & Buck 11/16/2012 at 8:34 pm #

    I LOVE theremins, I have wanted one for ages! One day it will be mine! ~ they make the most beautiful sounds, thanks for sharing :)
    Shell
    Kitty & Buck

  2. Heldine 12/04/2012 at 12:22 am #

    So crazy! I had never heard about those before.

  3. kate rothman 12/16/2012 at 1:46 am #

    Check out theremin.co.uk. Three different sizes and at least five years guarantee. Plus repair work if needed. Bespoke pretty boxes an option.

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