A video called "Prova Theremin Cello" was posted to YouTube on Tuesday showing what appears to be a newly created theremin cello instrument. The word "prova" is Italian for "test". Could this be the beginning of a new run of theremin cellos?
For those unfamiliar with the instrument, the theremin cello was another of Leon Theremin's early musical instruments. It uses a heretodyning circuit similar to those found in theremins to generate its tone. Unlike the theremin however, volume is controlled by a lever, and pitch is controlled by sliding your finger along the neck. This presses a metal strip onto a tightly wound coil within the neck, creating variation in the resonance of the pitch oscillator. Essentially, Leon Theremin created the first analog synthesizer with a ribbon controller! It was most notably used by Leopold Stokowski in the 1930's
Unfortunately, we don't know more than the bit of text posted with the video. I've reached out to the video's author for more information, so watch for updates to this post.
The prospect of a new theremin cello is interesting for several reasons. First, only a small amount of the original instruments were created. Second, according to the documentary Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey, most of the originals were destroyed when Leon Theremin was "refocused" to working on spy technology in the USSR.
Master craftsman Floyd Engels made several recreations of the theremin cello in the early 2000's that were painstakingly true to the original instruments. They are truly amazing instruments, and you can occassionally find them for resale in our forums. Here's a video of one being played. I had the good fortune to try one at the 2005 Ethermusic festival in Asheville, NC. As beautiful as the are, they are quite difficult to play!
The theremin cello never really caught on as an instrument, but it's always held a place in the hearts of theremin historians. I'm glad to see someone is experimenting with the instrument again. Let's hope this is just the beginning!
Stay tuned for more information!
Update: I got the following reply to my question back to the poster this afternoon. Looks like good news for folks wishing to purchase a theremin cello!
Thanks for your interest. When the theremin cello reaches the top, will go on sale. I have already had requests for the production. Expect to get the best results. Thank you very much.