Moog Theremini Theremin

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.

Theremini Firmware Update Improves Performance, Adds Features

Moog Theremini Theremin

Update: Dec 24, 2014: The Theremini firmware update has been posted for download on Moog's website.

When the Moog Theremini was first introduced at the 2014 NAMM show, it generated quite a bit of buzz (no pun intended).  With a new retro-modern space-age look, compact size, digital sound engine, and relatively low price point, the theremin community had plenty to say about the instrument.  Our own readers chimed in with their opinions, and the discussion has carried on for months.

To address feedback, Moog Music is preparing a new firmware update (v1.1) for the Theremini to be released very soon.  We've been testing the firmware update this week, and we think you'll be impressed with the changes.  Here's a rundown of what the new firmware brings.

Theremin Mode

One of the great new features in the update is "Theremin Mode", which makes the Theremini behave more like a traditional analog theremin.  Normally, the Pitch Correction knob on the Theremin adjusts how much auto-tuning is applied to the pitch antenna.  When Theremin Mode is active, however, this knob instead controls the pitch antenna response and the Amount knob controls the master volume. 

Theremin Mode is buried a bit in the advanced menu options, but it's not the type of setting you'll change often.  I suspect most you'll either like Theremin Mode enough to keep it on, or if you never missed it in the first place, you'll never turn it on.

Advanced Mode

Improved Latency and Linearity

One of the complaints about the original Theremini software was that it had just enough latency to be noticable when trying to perform music.  That is, the pitch changes made by the instrument tracked just slightly behind your hand movements in time, making it difficult to quickly and subtly adjust pitch.  To many thereminists, this was a deal breaker.

The new firmware update makes aa substantial improvement in latency and linearity.  I haven't measured latency directly, but after the update, you won't even know it was ever a problem.

Another common complaint about the original software was linearity, or how evenly notes are spaced out as you move from the lowest note to the highest.  Here's a measurement of linearity before the update, with the Theremini tuned to 5 octaves: 

  • C2 to C3:  approx. 12 inches
  • C3 to C4:  3 to 3.5 inches
  • C4 to C5:  1.75 to 2 inches
  • C5 to C6:  1.5 inch

This uneven spacing made it extra difficult to find individual notes and to build up the muscle memory for jumping from one note to the next when playing in different octaves. 

After the update, however, you'll see that the octaves are much more evenly spaced out: 

  • C2 to C3:  6 inches
  • C3 to C4:  4 inches
  • C4 to C5:  3 inches
  • C5 to C6:  3 inches

The improvements to both latency and linearity make the Theremini a much more playable instrument in my opinion.

New CV and MIDI Features

Version 1.1 introduces a couple of new CV-related features: a new NOTE source that lets you control the pitch of a volt-per-octave CV synthesizer, and the ability to control the offset and scale of any of the 3 CV source types.  You can also control the root of the NOTE source.  NOTE is now the default CV source type, too.

For MIDI, version 1.1 allows you to throttle control message rates, so as not to overwhelm your gear.  You can adjust the throttle rate to work best for your setup. 

Applying the Firmware Update

Once Moog Music releases the update, you'll be able to download it and manual updates directly from their website.  We'll update this article as soon as it's available.

Updating the Theremini is relatively easy, but it requires that you have a computer and software that can send MIDI SysEx messages.  Luckily, there are numerous freeware apps available for both Mac (e.g. SysEx Librarian) and Windows machines (e.g. MIDI-Ox).   You will also need a mini-USB cable to connect it to your computer. 

The update comes in the form of 2 files.  The first erases the old firmware, and the second applies the new firmware.  The whole process takes just a couple of minutes.

When the update is complete, the Theremini should automatically reboot into the new firmware.  You will need to re-calibrate the Theremini after applying the update.

Conclusion

Firmware version 1.1 is a must-have for Theremini owners who wish to use it as a musical instrument.  It also packs some new MIDI and CV features that will be useful when using it as a synth controller.  If you have a Theremini, we highly recommend you download the update.

Giacomo Puccini - O Mio Babbino Caro

Peter Pringle recently shared this on Facebook, and we thought it was too amazing not to re-share.  

Hungarian violinist and thereminist Katica Illenyi performs Giacomo Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro on a Moog Etherwave theremin.  You can learn more about her and her theremin music on her website.

Enjoy!