Another noob

Posted: 9/8/2008 10:48:56 AM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Thanks Gordon, and all, I'm working on that. Stay tuned.:)
Posted: 9/8/2008 12:00:57 PM
kkissinger

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[i]I'm always reminded--with a shudder--of Kevin's comment a while back, about sounding "like a slide whistle."[/i]

Oh no!! Don't shudder!

A couple of years ago, the topic of "skating" was discussed on Levnet. "Skating" is the practice of audibly sliding from one note to another as a means of finding notes rather than an expressive technique to be used with discretion.

For a while, I was so concerned about "skating" that my attempts to hide glisses started to impact my smoothness (legato) and expression.

I think, at the end of the day, to play the theremin is a balancing act between "clean" (non-glissed) articulation and excessive sliding from note to note.

My focus these days is on dynamics and expression. To date, I have consciously tried to take advantage of the range and timbres of the Etherwave Pro and am now focusing on the dynamic range. For highly articulated passages I set a higher sensitivity for the loop -- for greater dynamic control, I use a lower sensitivity.

I'm in the process of re-recording some of my earlier theremin compositions. To re-think details and to apply new insights is rewarding.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]
Posted: 9/9/2008 12:22:00 AM
larisa0001

Joined: 9/6/2008

Wow - thanks so much for all the great information. I am actually in Philadelphia at present, though I will be moving to San Francisco in May of next year. I'll definitely look up local thereminists to see if there is a possibility of lessons. This is a difficult instrument to say the least.
Posted: 9/9/2008 11:29:14 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Big up the Illadelphi!

[i]For a while, I was so concerned about "skating" that my attempts to hide glisses started to impact my smoothness (legato) and expression.

I think, at the end of the day, to play the theremin is a balancing act between "clean" (non-glissed) articulation and excessive sliding from note to note.[/i]

I agree. Well, any form of articulation is a strength for an instrument. A good staccato is seen as an exceptional skill for violinists, but imagine a violinist whose only real strength was staccato. They would still be mediocre in most respects.

I wonder how far you could take the elimination of glissando? If we could play every note with perfect smoothness and pitch, flitting from tone to tone seamlessly, would we go right through the artistry of the instrument and out the other side to it sounding once more like a funny synthesizer?
Posted: 9/9/2008 7:59:15 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

That's the thing though, isn't it. Theremin music is (pun intended) hand-made, and that's the beauty of it. It's not about the standardised, production-line perfection of a digital synth.

Excellence in painting includes sometimes (*) being able to see the brush strokes, if you see what I mean.



(*) At the [i]right[/i] times.
Posted: 9/9/2008 11:32:39 PM
FredM

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 WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"I wonder how far you could take the elimination of glissando? If we could play every note with perfect smoothness and pitch, flitting from tone to tone seamlessly, would we go right through the artistry of the instrument and out the other side to it sounding once more like a funny synthesizer?"

Isnt this what quantisation does.. quantises away the gliss, giving change in notes only when the incoming frequency / voltage is close to the next 'correct' interval.. I believe this is heard in MIDI theremins when note messages are sent (as opposed to pitch bend) - And, whilst probably useful, to my ears it does not sound like theremin - and mostly (the performances on U tube) I do not see (or hear) the point.

To me, portamento is one of the main things which gives monophonic synthesisers their character (Polyphonic portamento is a different matter completely, and, to me, mostly sounds horrible) - ok - with synths, the portamento has a preset rate and slope, and does not overshoot - so is different to that produced by a theremin.. But I do think if there was no gliss, it wont sound like a theremin!
Posted: 9/10/2008 8:28:23 AM
Thereminstrel

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

Yes, I think it's important to embrace the unique opportunities each instrument offers, rather than see them as limitations to be overcome.

The design of the trombone allows for a glissando that other brass instruments lack. There'd be little point trying to make a trombone sound entirely like a trumpet. Of course, refined technique for good articulation is needed for the trombone ... but its ability to "slide" when such an effect is desired, is surely part of the joy and challenge of playing it.

Likewise with the theremin, I guess the player should get a good grounding of the basics, including reliable aerial-fingering that allows articulation to be as crisp as possible ... but there are times when intentional glissando would be desirable! I think that what's undesirable is gliding or sliding as a way of "finding" the next note, note after note after note.
Posted: 9/10/2008 3:03:36 PM
larisa0001

Joined: 9/6/2008

I wonder, incidentally, if trombone music is easily adaptable to the theremin. Haven't tried it, but the idea fascinates me.
Posted: 9/10/2008 3:58:00 PM
carport888

From: Redmond, WA

Joined: 9/1/2007

"I wonder, incidentally, if trombone music is easily adaptable to the theremin. Haven't tried it, but the idea fascinates me."

I would guess that it may be more difficult than one might expect, as the Trombone's 'attack' adds much to it's musicality. However, with the right timbre, the Theremin can sound very much like a Trombone.

Then again, what ISN'T difficult to play on the Theremin?!? ;)
Posted: 9/10/2008 6:10:52 PM
omhoge

From: New York, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Hey larisa0001, run with that idea who knows where it'll take you.
The theremin is no harder to play well than the trombone or any serious instrument, just different, making music happen is both the hard and the easy part.

Lyric writing adapts most easily to the theremin, the more percussive and detached parts of the bone rep are harder, and carport888 is right the ictus of the note is very different, but it is possible. The gross pitch action is muscularily similar. And in any case careful pitch/ear attention and practice are key.
Lyric baritone tessuratura rep for cello and trombone is often played on theremin.

I look forward to what you discover!
Please keep us posted.

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