Theremin with Alesis AirFX (one player)

Posted: 4/8/2009 8:25:32 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Reference was made to the single-handed Theremin I was developing.. Alas, this will be a long time (if ever) in coming.. I spent an absolute fortune on this, but it has been abandoned for now - I do not know if it is possible to accurately control pitch/volume and harmonics with a single hand.. My prototype makes me believe that keeping the 'X' (pitch) axis stable while adjusting the 'Y' (harmonics) and 'Z' (volume) positions is nearly impossible.

I was extremely dissapointed with the results - Dissapointed enough to put the project aside.. I do not think the problems were down to technology (although the prototype is far from complete - I used bought-in VCO's, VCF's and VCA's in an attempt to meet the "White Noise" deadline) - It is a function of the limited pitch 'X' field (between 60 and 100cm depending on volume 'Z' position) and additional movement on the Y and Z field.. Doing quick volume changes (controlling the envelope by hand) invariably caused severe pitch glitching.

I am now working on a Theremin which has a conventional pitch antenna and an Epsilon ( type multi-axis "Volume" antenna, so that volume and tone control (and other functions like vocal Formant) are seperated from pitch.. (one hand to control dynamics, one to control pitch)

The above, however, will not help AirFX players.

Posted: 4/8/2009 11:44:29 PM
Rah Rah Records

Joined: 4/5/2009

yup, that was me in Miss Chocolate Cake. One of many bands I've played with over the years, and still one of my favorites. That pic was taken when we opened for king missile III back in 03. Which reminds me, I should update that page every once in a while. Maybe I'll put up some new songs this weekend. I think you can almost see the airfx mounting in that picture.
I read your manifesto on your myspace page. Very nice. I particularly like your screwdriver technique. touching the metal ring on the airfx or one of the cable ends gives the same effect, but I hadn't thought of the screwdriver. I tried it on my practice theremin at work today ...effective technique.
Have you tried the AirSynth? looks just like the airfx, but is orange and generates its own sounds, some very thereminy, some percussive, some random and noisy, and some that are like a basic drum toy, especially when combined with the airfx and theremin, you can be a one man hands free band.

as far as finding one now... I don't have any idea how many they actually produced. I don't think it was too many. They came out at a time when alesis was on the verge of going under and right about the same time as korg brought out the kaoss pad, which was a more professional sounding unit. next to it, the alesis airthings with their 49 presets were viewed as a novelty, so no further r&d was done on them and they were quietly dropped. Which is too bad, I'd have loved to see a second generation with more user-programmable effects and sounds. But as-is they're still cool toys, and not too many people have them(much like theremins, which they sound great with). I remember seeing new ones in the musicians friend catalog for 75$ at the end. They listed at 150 when they came out. If I'd only waited a few months, I could've saved some money.
Posted: 4/8/2009 11:49:48 PM
Rah Rah Records

Joined: 4/5/2009

2 pound 20? you should buy it youyrself as a spare.
Posted: 4/9/2009 4:25:12 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I've looked at the AirSynth. It's interesting. If I should buy a looper and have time to move away from the theremin and play other instruments I'll consider it more seriously, but at the moment I'm very happy being the only solo theremin act (AFAIK) that doesn't use either a looper or a prerecorded accompaniment, so I'm rather tied to the theremin.

My only reservation with the Alesis products is that they are optical. Perhaps I'm turning into a theremin snob, but it's just not the same as capacitive sensing. I will be keeping an eye on Fred's "theremin with extra dynamics."

I expect the one one eBay will be £2.20 until about ten seconds before the auction closes. Auto-bidding. Ugh.

(Glad you enjoyed The Beat Frequency Method.)

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