Right Hand on Box

Posted: 9/26/2006 9:05:18 AM
Lord Belbury

From: UK

Joined: 9/26/2006

I think this was touched on briefly before but...

I'd been struggling to improve my playing since buying an Etherwave about 8 months ago, and after giving up for a while came back to it and suddenly discovered a huge improvement by playing with my right hand on the case.

With my middle finger brushing very lightly on the case in a straight line about an inch in form the back and my little finger extended straight out as a "cutting edge" perpendicular to the pitch antenna, I get a very playable three octave range ( plus a few notes either way). Holding a sustained note is much easier and more accurate and violin like vibratto effects can be made much more accurately than with an aerial technique.

I wonder how many of you more seasoned players use this technique. Any opinions as to pros and cons ?

I must admit that oddly it feels like cheating somehow, and it ceratinly doesn't look as fancy !
Also I rather like an etherwave pro one day but I doubt I'd be able to play it in the same way given its shape.
Posted: 9/26/2006 11:45:19 AM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

CS Levine uses it to perform - a quick websearch will link you to his website, and he's really quite good.

I've not had much success with this method, but to be honest I've not really tried it in detail. I would suspect that it may make the theremin fractionally easier to play acceptably, but it's also an incredibly limiting method to use, since:

1) It limits your range substantially.
2) It removes the space-control element.
3) It inhibits the playing of fast passages.
4) It by no means guarantees pitching accuracy.
Posted: 9/26/2006 11:52:22 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Hi! Welcome to Thereminworld.

To place your hand on the box yields a different result than playing in midair. That is, the vibrato, glisses, etc... will have a different "sound". As long as the sound you are getting allows you to achieve your artistic goals -- if it works for you -- then just go for it.
Posted: 9/26/2006 4:46:45 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

I suppose that's a nice way of putting it, but I still think if you want to anchor your hand on an object you'd be better off using something like a synthesiser.

The coolest thing about a theremin is the space-control feature. Without it, it's not even a novelty.
Posted: 9/26/2006 6:03:48 PM

From: UK

Joined: 5/16/2006

Well said, Charlie/Kevin,

Leving is a fait player - but it is cheating a bit!! ;-)

Just remember that what sets the theremin out from the rest of the musical instrument families is that it's 'meant' to be played in mid air! If you're having lots of trouble, a friend of mine found that he could retain the majority of the 'sound' of a theremin (as Kevin put it so eloquently) by practising first with his theremin on a large table (with no earthed metallic parts in it...) and resting his elbow on the table near the pitch antenna. He could do vibrato, standard pitch shifting, and all of the finer movements with ease because of his anchored elbow. He could then weane himself into mid-air playing at his own pace.

If you're finding it just impossible, don't worry, just do whatever comes naturally and easiest to you to get the results you need!

Hope that helps, and welcome to the boards!

Have fun,

Posted: 9/28/2006 6:28:52 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Please don't think me a purist...
I've always loved the theremin because you do not touch it while playing.
The more I play it the greater the nuance I discover with it.

My EWPro responds very differently to any physical contact and seems to tell me it's antithetical to how it wants to be played, so I save those techniques for special situations. Of course it does NOT mean you can't touch, you are *free* do anything with a theremin or any instrument you play, I never cease to be amazed by the novel techniques players I get to see come up with.

The inward focus of embodying the sound is something I really enjoy. If you can find a balance to play without contact, you have many more options. And I hope by now folks can realize the theremin is basically easy to play. Only traditional instrumentalist brainwashing makes us think it's difficult at all. It's not.

To this day I know no greater joy then to step into the space and play.

play on
just keep making music
no matter what
just play
that is the most important thing.

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