Posted: 8/1/2009 10:11:59 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

[i]"I think that Fred, who is the microcontroller expert, could even find something which makes the circuit self-learning or self-adapting by using not only the absolute distance between hand and loop but also the velocity." - Thierry [/i]

[b]*[/b]I feel dense.. I am not really following any of what Gordon or you are saying here :-(

*edit* I have deleted a wobbler I threw here after a tetchy phone call from someone in the 'States.. Seems my postings are being watched more closely than I could have imagined! - Right now I can't afford the hassle..

I no longer regard, or want to regard, myself as a "Microcontroller expert" I see myself much more as an "old school" Electronics / Analogue designer.

[b]*[/b]-- I have moved comments on this to a later posting

Posted: 8/1/2009 11:05:54 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

[i]"Just one such theremin at first, covering the most commonly used range of pitches in classical playing (mezzo-soprano?) and a timbre to suit.
And then a double bass (?) model with the same field characteristics (for player mobility between models) and a timbre to suit the different range and to differentiate it from the other model - and with RF frequencies that do not interfere - for duets.
And so on." - Gordon C [/i]

Gordon - Are you suggesting having a range of Theremins covering different pitches and with different range/tonal charactaristics, or are you suggesting a Theremin which can be upgraded / changed to suit different requirements?

I am working to have a single Theremin which covers the vast majority (if not all) of possible requirements.. and an now looking at a lower cost version with switchable register and 5 octave coverage.

Would people Really want say 3 Theremins to cover 3 register ranges? Say the price of each was 'x' and the price of a Theremin which covered every requirement was 2x, and the 2x version actually was the equivalent of 5 'x' priced Theremins... ok, at the beginning they may be happy to only need to pay 'x'.. but I dont think their happyness would last long - as soon as they played a Tvox, or were unable to play a piece because they needed an extra octave up or down... I would be most Peed off if my Moog Prodigy was limited to the 3 octaves its keyboard covered, and I was not able to drive it via MIDI->CV from my 8 octave master keyboard..

I also wonder about the validity of the idea that limited range (say 3.5 octaves) and increased spacing between musical intervals, will actually assist beginners..

ok, my expierience is extremely limited, but I actually find it a LOT easier to play if the spacing between intervals is quite small.. I have quite a large hand and longer than average fingers, and on the Tvox I was able to span nearly 2 octaves just by moving my hand / fingers, and not moving my arm / elbow at all.. I found this comfortable and reasonably easy, certainly easy compared to the E-Pro, where I could only just-about get one octave without having to move my arm.. I never managed to work out what I could span on the standard - I seemed to need to move my arm for everything.

On my prototype, I am finding it far easier to play if the CV is cranked quite high - say 8 octaves in 1 metre, than if the CV is attenuated so I only get 4 octaves in a metre.. It is early days, and the playing conditions are far from ideal on the prototype (scope leads tend to get in the way and sometimes influence the response, LOL!) but so far I am inclined to think that too large a note spacing makes playing harder.
Posted: 8/2/2009 2:07:33 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

A range of theremins.

Here's my thought process.

Simplicity, low cost, a linear pitch field and a big range are not, it appears, all achievable at the same time.

You want to bring a simple, low-cost machine to market, to fund development of your high-end model.

Low cost machines typically have a bigger range at the cost of poorer linearity. But is that the best choice for the classical thereminist?

Clara Rockmore didn't think so. She came from a world of acoustic instruments, so was used to a limited range. It suited her fine. There is no classical repertoire that requires an instrument to cover the entire audio spectrum. Was there a public outcry at the ePro: "oh but we can't do a seven octave glissando!!!" No.

Classical thereminists want an instrument that facilitates excellent intonation. That was what Lev designed, and it is what they like about the ePro and the ethervox.

Yes, to buy several of them might be more expensive than buying one all-singing, all dancing machine that also caters to the requirements of the experimental thereminist - i.e. that fulfils the expectations set by modern electronic synthesisers - but "cheaper in the long run" is not necessarily better than "affordable now."

Not better from your point of view - you're in business, which is the process of legally extracting money from people's wallets, and getting x pounds three times is better than getting 2x pounds once.

Not from the beginner's point of view - they want to minimise their initial expenditure, in case it turns out to be a waste of money. Why pay 2x pounds for an instrument that fulfils all of their conceivable future requirements as well as doing a load of things they will probably never require when they can pay x pounds straight away and be able to play every song ever written for a given vocal range?

And then, having spent x pounds once, how much easier to pay another x pounds a year or two down the line to double their available repertoire with a second instrument?

How many musicians only ever buy one of their chosen instrument?

(Of course, I'm just guessing about what a classical thereminist might want, but it's based on observations made here and on levnet by classical thereminists.)
Posted: 8/2/2009 2:15:43 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Gordon, you are most probably right.

I own for example a set of three nice handcrafted recorders made in Switzerland. They all have a two octave range but in different registers.

I own a violin and a viola.

Etc., etc. ...
Posted: 8/2/2009 8:44:33 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Obviously the more notes you cram into your 18 inch playing arc, the more "pinched" your spacing is going to be. Clara Rockmore pointed out years ago that one of the problems with precision theremin playing, and one reason why so few are successful at it, is that players are too "greedy" and want a range that is ultimately going to hinder their ability to control the instrument.

On one of the tracks of the Rockmore GIFT TAPE, thereminist Reid Welch plays an ascending scale on Clara's custom theremin. He goes higher and higher until the instrument lets out a high-pitched screech on the G# above high C.

"I ran out of space!" Reid exclaims.

"You took it way beyond the range that I had." replied Clara.

For composers of aleatoric music, and for FX thereminists, a huge range could be an asset. This is one of the reasons why Clara said that the single most important thing for any newcomer to the theremin is to "know exactly where you want to go before you begin."

The single most common error that theremin builders make is their failure to consult really accomplished precision theremin players at every stage of the development of their instruments. They often seem to think they don't need to consult anyone because they already know what needs to be done. Or they consult someone whose level of skill on the instrument will not enable them to make really constructive suggestions for improvement.

Even Bob Moog made this mistake.

As I understand it, Pamelia Kurstin warned Bob about the problems with the overly "snappy" volume control on the Etherwave Pro theremin, but it was too late because the instrument was already going into production.

If you're going to build a race car you would be well advised to let a couple of professional race car drivers take your prototype out onto the track for a spin before making any final design decisions.
Posted: 8/2/2009 12:11:58 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

[i]"The single most common error that theremin builders make is their failure to consult really accomplished precision theremin players at every stage of the development of their instruments." - Coalport [/i]

I have tried not to make this mistake.. I have probably had more input from players of every "calibre" than anyone else in history, LOL!

One trouble is that even "really accomplished precision theremin players" cannot agree on what they want! - Some love the "snappy" E-Pro, some love having full 7 linear octaves and dislike the E-Pro sound, some love the E-Pro sound and aint so keen on the Tvox sound (ie - they like a sound produced digitally from square waves more than they like the 'natural' Theremin sound - even if they are not aware of this fact! .. ;-)

I have been consulting for over 2 years now.. Even at this point, new angles I have not heard before, keep surfacing. I am glad they do - I have a large file with clips of everything suggested, and a smaller one with what I think is important, and keep adding to these.

But my first Theremin to market probably wont please everyone, and could be unaffordable to the majority.. My controller version of this will certainly please those with voltage control based synthesisers / modules.. It is the lower cost versions I am now examining.. And for these I am looking at 4-5 octave linear playing field, switchable registers, a few preset sounds which can be morphed together under control of a single knob..

Dont stop me now... Ohhh Im havin such a good time!!! ;-)

Will be continued here (

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