Pitch preview: Do you think it is somewhat cheating?

Posted: 6/8/2011 1:09:41 PM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

I view the audio pitch preview as a later addition to the theremin that a player can choose to use.

As a composer, I have written some music that requires a pitch preview -- one of them is a live-looping work "Three-legged Race" http://kevinkissinger.com/threeleggedrace.shtml .

In numerous places, the work demands that one plays nearly-stacatto notes precisely on the beat -- there is NO time to fish/trim/slide to pitch without completely messing up the loop -- any audible fishing would become part of the loop!

And -- many of these notes are pivital -- they establish the pitch AND the count -- miss such notes and the game ends (this has happened to me on occasion and I've had to start over).

The point is that, like all instruments, composers will start to write music that takes advantage of innovations: i.e., pedals on pianos, combination pistons on organs, the Boehm valves on flutes, etc.

Can one play, for example, an antique organ without a combination action? Well of course -- however one is advised to choose music that does not assume the existance of a combination action -- such music would be less-than-successful on such an instrument.

In no way whatsoever does a pitch-preview enable cheating. It cannot make one play in tune. If one plays flat without a preview, one will play flat with one. If one can not fish for a tone with a loudspeaker, one can not fish for a tone in a pitch preview.

In fact, to say that pitch preview enables one to "come in on the right pitch" overstates it a bit -- again, if one cannot find a pitch with a speaker one will not be able to find it with a pitch preview.

As Coalport points out, the preview allows one to find the starting pitch privately in an ear bud rather than publically in a speaker.
Posted: 6/8/2011 8:16:56 PM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Coalport has also pointed out that music is often played on a theremin that could have (and SHOULD have) been played on some other instrument that would have been more appropriate and much easier to control. People end up using the theremin for their compositions because they are unable to play anything else.

The theremin becomes the default instrument.

Sometimes people play music on instruments OTHER than a theremin, and call it a theremin anyway because they just don't seem to know any better! Like the following:


Theremin Concert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEnj39yIXIg)
Posted: 6/9/2011 8:42:25 AM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[i]"...People end up using the theremin for their compositions because they are unable to play anything else.

The theremin becomes the default instrument."[/i]

In other words, when one's only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

[i]Sometimes people play music on instruments OTHER than a theremin, and call it a theremin anyway because they just don't seem to know any better![/i]

That track kind of sounds like a demo mode on a keyboard and isn't a convincing imitation of a theremin.

Regarding the "Humoresque" -- that is one work I would not play on the theremin simply because I can't play it well. There is a lot of music that other thereminists attempt that is beyond me.

Together, the theremin and I have strengths and I attempt to play to them.

O.T. --

Coalport, at one time you started a a DVD course for advanced theremin-playing to deal with how to put excitement and expression into music and then you abandoned the project. That is too bad -- wish you would go ahead and finish the project and get it out there.
Posted: 6/9/2011 10:00:21 AM
Amethyste

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

I saw that Youtube link and I was like WTF?
What is that? Lol... Then I read your comment and I cracked up haha.

For me, the hardest at the moment is how to play all my notes legato with expression of my volume hand... It's challenging but i am loving it!!! :)
Posted: 6/9/2011 10:02:27 AM
Amethyste

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

Would you think that most pieces that one is able to sing would be ok to play on the theremin?

What do you consider a hard piece on a theremin? I assume jumps, fast runs are probably really challenging to do correctly on a theremin...
Posted: 6/10/2011 9:44:55 PM
omhoge

From: New York, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

You may need to start a continuation thread on this.

RE: "Would you think that most pieces that one is able to sing would be ok to play on the theremin?"

A song like Glitter and be Gay, would probably be a train wreck on the theremin. Though I'd go nuts if I saw someone pull it off (actually if you can sing it well you probably dedicated yourself to that instead of the theremin any way). Songs without their text can be dull on the theremin and being able to sing a piece does not assure it will work. But singing any piece, especially a capella, is a good (even required) step in learning it.

Generally lyric tunes that keep interest without any words translate well, melodies that are long enough not to seem repetitive. Non-melodic or atonal work is a whole other ball game, and must usually focus on building sound-scapes without the hard accents and articulations the mouth can produce.

RE: "What do you consider a hard piece on a theremin? I assume jumps, fast runs are probably really challenging to do correctly on a theremin..."

Yeah fast runs are tough, but small discrete intervals are harder than jumps I think. White Christmas and Habanera from Carmen are full of intonation traps for the theremin player.

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