About The Theremin

The theremin is considered to be the first mass produced electronic musical instrument. It was created around 1919 when its inventor, Lev Terman was conducting an experiment concerning the properties of an enclosed gas under differing atmospheric pressures and temperatures. He noticed he could change the generated audio tone of this experiment by simply moving his hand near the apparatus. The electronic radio frequency instrument he created to reproduce this effect is unusual in that it is played without touching the unit. His first Theremin was a pitch style device where the volume of the notes produced were controlled with a foot operated volume pedal.

The theremin consists of two oscillators operating at a radio frequency. One oscillator is at a constant, unchanging frequency and the other is variable by your hand approaching the antenna. When the oscillators are in unison the theremin is silent. As the variable oscillator frequency changes with the motions of your hand, the difference between the two oscillators is an audio frequency output tone.

Most people associate the sound of a theremin with vintage science fiction / horror movies. Many bands such as Led Zeppelin utilized theremins in their musical mix. One common misconception is that the Beach Boys used a Theremin in the song 'Good Vibrations'. The sound they used was actually a Tannerin! Many people do not realize the Theremin is used in Classical music where the most cherished aspect of its sound on the original 1920's instruments is its ability to sound like the human female voice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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