Moog Theremini Theremin

A Visit to the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention

Spark Museum of Electrical Innovation

The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham, Washington is home to an outstanding collection of electronics history.  My son and I stopped by this week during Spring Break to check out their exhibits.  

The museum has an incredible collection of scientific instruments, antique radios, phonographs, televisions, microphones, batteries, motors, telegraphs, telephones, and other gadgets.  An electronics history buff could literally spend days examining all the devices on display.  Many of the items are actually for sale as well!  They have an equally impressive overflow archive of items not on display, including LPs, old issues of electronics magazines, and other devices.  Is it wrong that I want to live in this museum?

Got tubes?

Vintage radios at the Spark Museum

Of course, the highlight (and our main reason for visiting) was their theremin display.  Spark has both a Signature Series Etherwave theremin and an original RCA theremin (#200085, via RCATheremin.com).  The RCA is connected to a Model 106 speaker and is in working condition.  Normally it's not turned on for the public, but the staff graciously accepted my request to try it out.  It sounds beautiful, but I found the volume response to be a little too soft and the pitch antenna had a bit of latency.  There was also a slight gurgle in the bass register.  Still... what a treat to get to play a working RCA!  A group of students was visiting the museum that day, so I also got to give a brief impromptu demonstration for some of them.  Hopefully at least one will be inspired to try out the theremin themselves.  

(Yes, I realize the volume antenna is upside down - we'll work on getting that fixed).  

I'd like to give a special thanks to Operations Director Tana Granack and Co-Founder & Curator Jonathan Winter for their hospitality and for letting us try out the RCA theremin.  They also let us sit in on a demonstration of their singing Tesla Coil "Elvis".  Trust me, watching 400,000 volts of lighting belt out "Purple Haze" is something you simply must see to believe. 

Learn more about the museum at SparkMuseum.org, and be sure to check it out if you're in the Seattle/Bellingham/Vancouver BC area!  And while you're there, be sure to stop at Rocket Donuts across the street to hang with Gort! 

Gort at Rocket Donuts

Theremin Classique: New Music from Armen Ra

Armen Ra - Theremin Classique

We're happy to announce that Thereminist Armen Ra has released a new album!  Theremin Classique was released on April 1 and contains 10 tracks:

  • Casta Diva Norma / Bellini
  • Je croix entendre encore /The Pearl Fishers/ Bizet
  • Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix Samson & Delilah /Saint Sa�ns
  • The Swan Carnival Of Animals / Saint Sa�ns
  • Ebben? ne andro lontana La Wally / Catalani
  • Sola perduta abandonatta Manon Lescaut/ Puccini
  • Una furtive lagrima Ilixir of Love / Donizetti
  • Nocturne / Chopin
  • Dido’s Lament Dido & Aeneas / Purcell
  • Un bel di vedremo Madama Butterfly / Puccini

The album is available via iTunes and Amazon.com.

Thorwald Jørgensen at the X Rio Harpfestival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

After having played at the Electromagnectica Festival in Santiago de Chile, Thorwald J�rgensen is now traveling to South America once again. Thorwald and harpist Renske de Leuw will be performing at the X Rio Harpfestival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They will perform several concerts at different festival locations with their repertoire consisting of a mix of original music written for the duo and classical transcriptions. The Bachianas Brasileiras no.5 by Villa Lobos which you can hear in the link below will of course be included in their programme. 

Check www.thorwaldjorgensen.com for more information.

Moog Releases Theremini Patch Editor for Mac and PC

Theremini Editor for Mac and PC

Moog Music has released their Theremini patch editor software for the Mac and PC.  Previously only available for the iPad, the Theremini editor software allows you to manage the various sounds on your Theremini as well as create your own new sounds.  

To use the software with your Theremini, you'll need a mini-USB cable to connect it to your computer.  You can then back up the original sounds, modify them, and load new sounds onto your Theremini.  The whole process is quick and simple.

To download the software, you'll need to first register your Theremini at Moog's website.

6 Resources For Learning To Play The Theremin

If you received or purchased a theremin over the holidays, then congratulations!  The first few sessions with a theremin can be a little intimidating, so we've compiled this short list of resources to help you start learning to perform music on your new instrument.

Happy practicing!

1. Clara Rockmore's Theremin Method Book

Clara Rockmore Theremin Method

Clara Rockmore, the first theremin virtuosa, produced a theremin method book detailing her theremin technique in the 1990's.  The 16 page book is freely available in PDF format.  Thereminist Roger Ballenger has also shared a series of MP3 audio files of the lessons at BallengerMusic.com.

2. Mastering the Theremin by Lydia Kavina

This introductory video comes with the Moog Etherwave theremins, but in case you have a different model or bought yours second-hand, it's also available as a DVD at Amazon.com.

3. Theremin Lessons DVD by Thomas Grillo

YouTube sensation Thomas Grillo has compiled this set of video lessons for learning to play the theremin.  Available from Amazon.com as DVD or online instant video.  Grillo also teaches lessons live online via Skype.  Visit ThomasGrillo.com to learn more.

4. The Art of Playing the Theremin by Carolina Eyck

Art of Playing the Theremin

A collection of 150 exercises and etudes by thereminist Carolina Eyck.  Available in both print and PDF format in English and German from CarolinaEyck.com.

5. Online Theremin Lessons by Kip Rosser

Kip Rossser

Thereminist Kip Rosser has published a series of 64 theremin lessons online on his website. He covers everything from tuning the theremin to basic and advanced techniques. 

6. Manuel D'Initiation Au Theremin

Manuel D'Initiation Au Theremin

A great introduction to the theremin, packed with tips to get you started.  Originally published in French.  Available in spiral bound format in French at Amazon.fr and in English at Amazon.com.