adapting Theremin for rock/heavy metal... can it be done...?

Posted: 9/21/2008 10:16:49 AM
dime

Joined: 9/21/2008

Hay i've only just started looking into these Theremins and i must say they're rather interesting... i just got a few questions if anyone can help.

i'm wondering how a Theremin could be adapted for a rock/heavy metal application. basicly trying to make it sound like a mean ass guitar. i'm guessing it's easy enough to put it threw distortion, but weather or not it could be adapted to fit in as a unique part or a rock band... i don't know. so if anyone could help me on this that'll be tops
Posted: 9/21/2008 2:08:23 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Welcome to Theremin World.

You can get a slightly odd fretless bass out of a theremin - it's a bit of a Pamelia Kurstin trademark - needs a steady pitch hand and a quick flick away from the side of the volume loop with a tight volume field. It's probably going to be off-key, but most fretless bass is, so big whoop.

In a guitar's pitch range, it might be worth looking at a Boss Fuzz - Alexander Thomas uses one in his chain with an Etherwave Pro and it's got a great big dirty sound - top stuff, imo. Also if you have a digital delay that will go as short as 5 milliseconds and allows 100% feedback you can trigger some wild resonant screeches with a bit of careful adjustment of your settings.

But - why try to emulate a guitar? The great thing about the theremin is - all your power is focussed on a very few harmonics and you can ride clear over the top of everything - it doesn't matter if the rest of the band cranks it up to 12, you can cut right through it without even breaking a sweat.

( Shhh. Don't tell, but a bit of echo makes pretty much [i]anything[/i] sound intentional. ;-)
Posted: 9/22/2008 3:49:21 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

[i]In a guitar's pitch range, it might be worth looking at a Boss Fuzz - Alexander Thomas uses one in his chain with an Etherwave Pro and it's got a great big dirty sound - top stuff, imo.[/i]

Cheers, bruv!

I've used envelope generators in the past to get a sort of "lead guitar" sound out of the Theremin. Thing is, I couldn't find a useful application for it.

The biggest problem you will find using Theremin in a loud band is that it will become virtually unplayable. Your ears will most likely become saturated with the other instruments and it'll get seriously confusing (that said I use huge lumps of sound in my live sets that come off okay).

I know a guy who plays keys in a band called Dragonforce and has experimented with the Theremin, I believe, although I'm not sure he's done it with the band.

On the other hand, Moog just brought out a guitar with infinite sustain! Now if it were fretless, you'd be in business.
Posted: 9/22/2008 9:23:31 AM
omhoge

From: New York, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Alexander is right, it can get really hard to hear yourself. Rather than imitate anything, I like to keep the theremin sounding like a theremin, albeit processed, in those situations. When I play with an "Exotic/Urban/Rock/Punk/Metal/Space/Impov" (and *really* loud) Band here in NY, one of the most successful ways to form the theremin part is to listen to the feedback and harmonics coming from the lead guitar, and whatever the bass is doing. If I can't cut through the body of sound, I try to get the theremin to sing above it. It's totally different from my solo work, and though my ears ring for days after, it's a heck of a lot of fun to just throw yourself into a massive wall of sound.

Welcome to TW dime.
Let us know what comes out with your aether + metal + rock experiments!
Posted: 9/24/2008 9:25:45 AM
dime

Joined: 9/21/2008

cheers guys, i'm lookin at buyin a second hand one soon to have a fiddle with and see what i can come up with. i've been taking with my mate but starting a new band and doin some new stuff so Theremin may just be what we're lookin for. To answer ya question GordonC, i used to play guitar till bout a year ago i had an accident where i shattered my wrist and arm, basically meaning that i can't rotate my left arm enough to hold the neck in the proper position... it's not all bad though, i can still play the drums with relative ease. When i get my hands on a Theremin 'll let ya know what i come up with
Posted: 9/24/2008 9:45:36 AM
Alexander

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Dime - there's more than one way to play!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJhextASr8U

The bassist shown here also plays in a band with myself. He is unable to rotate either of his wrists, so plays palm down. Maybe you could learn to play this way?
Posted: 9/26/2008 2:52:39 PM
vonbuck

From: new haven ct.

Joined: 7/8/2005

[i]You can get a slightly odd fretless bass out of a theremin - it's a bit of a Pamelia Kurstin trademark - needs a steady pitch hand and a quick flick away from the side of the volume loop with a tight volume field. It's probably going to be off-key, but most fretless bass is, so big whoop.[/i]

most fretless basses are of key? Thems fighting words. Fretless bass is my main instrument and unlike the theremin, the public isn't that forgiving for an out a tune bass.
So there.
Andy
Posted: 9/26/2008 6:29:47 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

OK, not most. But I've heard some. I forgave them. :-)
Posted: 9/28/2008 12:04:34 AM
TomFarrell

From: Undisclosed location without Dick Cheney

Joined: 2/21/2005

Dime, if you want an instrument that sounds like a mean-ass guitar... go buy a mean-ass guitar. A theremin is a difficult instrument to play, and you're wasting your time with it if you just want the sound of another instrument. That other instrument will be easier to play 100% of the time and will more reliably give you what you want. Play a theremin when what you want is the sound of a theremin, because then it's irreplaceable.

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