Aerial Fingering Technique

Posted: 12/31/2006 7:55:22 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Hmmm...

Discussions about "proper" playing grate with me as much as the use of the word "talent", in that they always have some uneasy premise that there are distinctions in musicianship, and instrumentalists who don't play to a prerequisite standard have not succeeded and have nothing to contribute, and to me that's rubbish.

If what you want to play is pieces of classical music to 100% accuracy, then learning to make the Theremin sound like a Cello or a Violin is probably advisable. But those standards exist for instruments because they are required to recreate those pieces of music. If deviation (or disregard) from instrumental standards were musically bankrupt, we wouldn't have Gavin Bryars simulating the destruction of metal and wood with a string ensemble, and Penderecki wouldn't scare the crap out of us.

There's an innate joy to playing a musical instrument and refusing to accept deviation (some would call it "lack") from academically praised techniques as musically relevant can only hamper that joy. I feel that truly finding efficaciousness in an instrument is a case of creating a relationship with it, learning about it, loving it - how can any relationship be successful if you only allow yourself one strict path of progression?

Instead of saying "this can be done, and that can't", I think it's very important that all instruments, this one being no exception, should be a personal journey of discovery.

[i]"I am still exploring the possibilities of the theremin. It is this, such a young instrument in comparison with string or drum devices and it might take another 100 years to find its true form. I am just one of many that are currently searching for its truest form."[/i] - Dorit Chrysler.

Let's not get the Master Classes going [i]just[/i] yet.
Posted: 12/31/2006 10:03:51 AM
omhoge

From: New York, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Yes there is a thread on Pitch Preview

link (http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?cmd=p&T=1918&F=780)

As well as a sub thread on vibrato.
link (http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?cmd=p&T=1638&F=780)

I must confess, yes I do cheat
if cheating is the word
to make the music in my head take form
and perhaps couple another minds.

Thanks for all the thoughts,
happy new year to y'all and
joyous adventures in the aether!
Posted: 12/31/2006 1:35:48 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

I agree with Alexander Thomas to a large extent - there is no 'proper' way to play a theremin, but it seems to me sensible to quantify methods as to their usefulness in certain areas.

It is my guess that had Clara used Lydia's fingering technique, her musicianship would have compensated for whatever differences there might have been in their methods. Both player's styles evolved, their inaccuracies seem to have been ironed out over time (I assume this happened with Clara, and we certainly see it happen when comparing Lydia and her protege Carolina Eyck), but it was the musicians who largely determined whether what they produced was objectively precise and accurate - I think most here would agree all three play superbly well.

My point is that more often than not, musicianship seems dictates technique and output. I cannot think of many examples where it happens the other way around. The Suzuki violin may accelerate gifted musicians, but it does not create them, nor does it provide musicality.
Posted: 12/31/2006 4:59:44 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
"And every single one of them is right!"

(Rudyard Kipling)

There aren't many things I know for sure, but I'm pretty certain that it's a good thing to have opinions - knowing what you like and what you don't and having a reason why, gives you a personal standard to work to. It's also good to remember they are opinions, and opinions can differ - one person's "inexpressive" is another person's "understated" and so on.

I also know that the important thing is the music. I don't want to play like Clara, or Lydia, or Peter, or Pamelia or anyone else for that matter. I would like to be able to play in whatever style, or using whatever technique, is right for the particular piece of music I am playing at the time.
Posted: 1/1/2007 9:56:28 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Eh.

All I think is that I agree with Dorit that it's a young instrument. We have an opportunity here not to bind and ruin it with the academic constraints that have been placed on more or less every instrument invented so far, and it would be really nice if it didn't just fall victim to the diatonic scale and some very ancient, tired ideas about how music should work. Pythagoras be damned.
Posted: 1/1/2007 1:20:02 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Alexander Thomas wrote "[i]Eh.[/i]"

Was my previous posting too cryptic? Sorry. It happens. There was a whole flurry of postings I wanted to respond to, but no time to write a posting, so I thought about it too long and it got condensed down and down.

[i]Pythagoras be damned.[/i]

I know what what you mean, but am not sure that this is the right thread for it. My take - the theremin is like the didgeridoo, but with one difference. Like the didgeridoo; can be used to great effect in many genres of music, classical, rock, jazz etc but perhaps something of a novelty - not like the didgeridoo; if you want to hear the didgeridoo at its best, listen to Aboriginal music, it developed independently of music theory and is based solely on the properties of the instrument. Native didgeridoo music. There is no native theremin music. What would it sound like if there were?

Perhaps we should start a new thread?

Posted: 1/1/2007 3:10:43 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

I'm pretty firmly stuck with Lev and Clara when it comes to what the theremin is good at doing. That of course doesn't dictate what it can or should do, but I've yet to hear avant-garde theremin composition that really moves me, sends a shiver down my spine or involves me hugely. I know it's old fashioned, but I think it's wonderful to have such a broad spectrum of unconsciously assigned perspectives.

Comparing the reception of Pamelia Kurstin's esoteric theremin looping in Bristol with that of Masami Takeuchi's exquisite (if slighly cheesy from a repertoire perspective) theremin playing, it's obvious which was more immediately appreciable. Pamelia seemed to be viewed in much the same way as her keyboard mashing, avant-garde support acts, whereas after Miss. Hypnotique's gothic / avant-garde stylings, Masami blew the roof off the rowdy london pub. They had to turn people away at the doors, and the place was crammed to bursting with spellbound, silent onlookers.
Posted: 1/1/2007 6:43:06 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Yup, gotta agree, diversity is another good thing.

By cheesy I take it you mean light classical, the stuff regular folk know and love - more Classic FM than Radio 3 - not the heavy stuff that has intellectual cachet amongst aficionados. Yes, the popular tunes are indeed, uh, popular.

But does it come as a surprise that an esoteric instrument should attract esoteric music, be it the latest experimental shenanigans or thousand year old Armenian sharagans? I think there's room for all sorts. Diversity - good thing.
Posted: 1/2/2007 3:33:18 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

The turnout and support for Pamelia were wonderful, and I think, Charlie, you're misinterpreting the reaction to Pamelia's set. If you're looking to say that she's divinely removed from the experimental scene, I would advise you to note that earlier in the evening she played with Jez as part of IME (and had done so throughout that tour). If you're looking to say that the audience were incapable of distinguishing one from the other because of the whole "experimental" thing... well, you're wrong. Heh. In case you didn't notice, we were turning people away at the doors as well, and people were also crammed around the windows outside.

So... are you sure you're not the one who's lumping all "avant-garde" into the same category? I think what's more the case with Jez & Pamelia touring together is that the musically innovative and open-minded will support and collaborate, even if their styles and approaches are wildly different. This is good. To hell with chopping and separating music and musicians from one another. Ideas ought to be exchanged.

You say you're stuck with "Lev & Clara", but wasn't one of old Lev's complaints in his latter years that nobody was trying to innovate with the Theremin, that all it had been used for so far was to recreate pieces of classical music?

I think perhaps you're not very tuned in to what you call avant-garde music (which... well, doesn't narrow it down in even the slightest way). Really, does Barbara Buchholz not move you? I'd say that was pretty darn contemporary, as well as Pamelia Kurstin...

One of the problems we have, really, is that the acceptance of the Theremin has been quite unpredictable. Classical musicians have used it in a frankly boring way, most of the time, that is to say they've used it as a kind of magic violin. People making modern music may treat it as an "effect" rather than an instrument, thus stripping it of its usefulness. Noise musicians like the Theremin, but they don't necessarily want it in their music. Electroacoustic composers and sound designers don't see the point, because their focus is on finding sounds, and the popular belief is that analogue synthesizers are perfectly serviceable in creating the sounds of the Theremin (which they aren't). The fact that you haven't heard a contemporary composition that moved you using the Theremin is, I'm sure, less of an indication of its true place in music than a symptom of the times we live in, that there is a depressing amount of bias from all corners of music that puts a block in the path of progress.

Keyboard mashing? Noise = fun. People should have fun with sound. Is there a point to making music if you don't enjoy it?

Gordon - The "Eh" wasn't really directed at anyone ;) Yes, maybe another topic is in order! I like drifting, though, at 16 pages in it seems due!
Posted: 1/2/2007 4:33:37 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Also, sorry for the off-topic rant but it felt that the conversation had drifted from investigating a technique to the idea of people who don't master such techniques or their equivalents being redundant, which is utter rubbish.

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