Theremin Summer Academy with Carolina Eyck & Thierry Frenkel in Colmar/Elsass/Frankreich from June 9 to 13, 2011

Posted: 4/5/2011 2:02:43 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

[i]Edit: My apologies for the typo in the title, couldn't edit it later, should write "Colmar/Alsace/France", such things happen if one works in three languages in parallel...[/i]

Don't make other plans for the Pentecost weekend 2011!
- individual and group theremin lessons (Carolina Eyck)
- teachings about optimal theremin setup and technical first aid (Thierry Frenkel)
- Theremin tuning, repair, upgrade, modding (Thierry Frenkel)
- NEW and UNIQUE: Theremin improvisation (Carolina Eyck) and chamber music classes (Thierry Frenkel)

More info and registration:
Posted: 5/12/2011 3:45:55 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

There are still a few time slots for individual lessons with Carolina free, mostly on Thursday, June 09 and Friday, June 10. So if you have been hesitating, decide now and send your registration.

Thank you!
Posted: 6/13/2011 1:18:34 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

How's the event going? Can we get an update and maybe some phots from the lucky attendees?
Posted: 6/22/2011 4:24:22 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Well... all went well. The theremin summer academy 2011 was held during 5 days from June 9th to 13th. 14 students (4 from France, 4 from Germany, 2 from Switzerland, 2 from Italy, 1 from the UK and 1 from the US), 2 teachers (Carolina Eyck and myself) and a special guest (Thorwald Jorgensen from NL) made this an unforgettable event.

Carolina has been teaching more than 30 hours of individual theremin lessons and three hours of improvisation group lessons.
Carolina teaching 1 (
Carolina teaching 2 (
(From left to right: Michel Chazot, FR, Carolina Eyck, DE)

I have been teaching three times "theremin technique", a group lesson which is intended to explain the basic principle of operation of a theremin and how environmental factors, setup and tuning influence the playability and linearity.
Thierry teaching (
(From left to right: Christian Aengst, DE, Marita Stadler, DE, Valeria Sturba, IT, Giulia Riboli, IT)

An absolute novelty were the two theremin chamber music classes (3 x 1h each) which I led. The students learnt (among others) basic ensemble techniques, ear training and how to set up multiple theremins without interfering. All participants saw that even simple melodies or harmonic constructions are a big challenge when played in a theremin ensemble and found that such teachings should go on.
Chamber music class 1 (
(From left to right: Brian Robison, US, Michel Chazot, FR, Coralie Ehinger, CH)

The theremin in the middle is NOT an RCA... The cabinet has been built by French thereminist and organist Michel Chazot and I was asked to integrate and adapt an Etherwave Standard Theremin (with ESPE01 pitch extender module), a Fender Frontman 25R amplifier chassis, the big 12" speaker towards the public and a small 5" speaker towards the player as a monitor. Michel was so happy that I could help him in realizing his dream that he took and reworked a very special picture:
Theremingénieur (

My workshop was also very occupied, I was asked to install 8 ESPE01 modules (my newest invention which adds 2 octaves at the lower end of the pitch range of the Etherwave Standard/Plus and eliminates this "dying motorbike" sound) and to do some other repair and tuning.
Workshop (

The exact date of the next theremin summer academy 2012 will be communicated soon.
Posted: 6/23/2011 6:37:53 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Thierry, thanks so much for posting the photos and comments about your event. It looks like it was a lot of fun. I am curious about Michel Chazot's theremin. It has a built-in speaker that faces away from the thereminist (toward the audience) and is placed below waist level. This is similar to the placement of the speaker in Samuel Hoffman's RCA which we now have reason to believe was the prototype for what was to have been the second generation RCA theremin.

How does Michel like playing with the speaker placed in this way? Does he find it a disadvantage for intonation?

Robert Moog integrated a speaker into the cabinet of his SERIES 91 theremins, but he compromised and placed it in the side of the instrument - a position that is not ideal either for the listeners or for the player.

Unfortunately, the best place for the speaker, so that both the audience and the thereminist can hear clearly, is the traditional position behind the thereminist. This requires a separate speaker and stand which is a big nuisance.

Hoffman played with no external speaker for his entire career but his intonation was often not great. If you listen to his recordings, you will notice that the louder the orchestra is, the worse his intonation is. Hoffman had excellent pitch and I am convinced that intonation difficulties only happened when he couldn't hear himself properly.

When I play Hoffman's RCA, I always use an external monitor as well as the built-in speaker. When Michel plays his instrument does he use only the internal speaker? Has he experimented with external speakers and, if so, has he come to any conclusions about speaker placement?

It has been my belief for years that the greatest impediment to good theremin playing is poor speaker placement and the resulting inability of the thereminist to hear him/her self clearly. Many thereminists use speaker/amps that were designed for guitars and sit on the floor. That's O.K. for aleatoric work and FX playing, but it is a disadvantage for the serious precision player, in my humble opinion.
Posted: 6/23/2011 2:30:41 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

@coalport: I wrote above [i]the big 12" speaker towards the public and a small 5" speaker towards the player as a monitor[/i].

Front side (

This additional speaker is already a great help although it targets rather the paunch of the player. I told to Michel that even this solution was only suboptimal and suggested that he should connect an external amplifier and speaker (positioned at ear height) to the line output (at the bottom of this beautiful cabinet). We tried this setup together by connecting a Roland MA-12C active speaker and this felt still better for him.

... but I fear that he will refrain from that for aesthetic reasons after I saw how this instrument was set up in Michel's home...

At home... (
Posted: 6/23/2011 8:03:31 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Michel's music room is BEAUTIFUL! I presume he plays the organ???

The theremin is not an esthetically pleasing instrument from the purely physical point of view. When you compare it to the beauty of a harp, a cello, a fine piano or the celestial silver pipes of a chapel organ, the theremin looks rather plain and uninteresting. Bob Moog tried to revolutionize the traditional look of the instrument with his Etherwave Pro design but many people have compared to a public pay telephone!

In an effort to liven the theremin up and make it look more glamorous, Vincent Minnelli (Liza's dad), designed the spectacular "sprite" speakers which are eight feet high and can be clearly seen from a distance. Long undulating silver arms ending in the delicate hands of an ondine (a water sprite) lift the speaker baffle, which is in the spiral shape of a "tourbillon d'eau", from a bed of lily pads and thrust it toward the sky.

Posted: 6/24/2011 8:38:08 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Thierry, congratulations on a great event!

Coalport, I find it better to have my speaker at head height too. For any style of theremin playing it is preferable, IMO.

When it comes to the aesthetics of theremin enclosures, I sometimes wonder "What would Dieter Rams(*) do?"

(*) Catchphrase: "Less, but better." Perhaps a more useful guidance than "less is more."

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