waiting for christmas

Posted: 11/2/2010 12:24:40 AM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Coolio! You sound like me five years ago. Welcome to Theremin World. :-)

So, tell all ---> which one are you going to get, what are you thinking of doing with it. (Yes, I know, make music, but what sort...)
Posted: 11/2/2010 7:57:23 AM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I think you're going to have a lot of fun. I love the psychedelic, spacey side of it too. You should check out the Spellbound podcast - http://spellbound.purplenote.com/ - plenty of weird stuff - and some great classical as well - to keep your theremin lust sated until Christmas.

Thought about the other bits and pieces you'll need yet? Amp, mike stand, maybe some effects for the weirdy psychedilia?

(The difference between the standard and the plus is that the plus has CV outs - a way of interfacing the theremin with other analog electronic instruments. If you don't have it and you find later that you want it, not a problem - you can get an upgrade kit. But it's good to master the regular stuff before getting all technical with the electronics side. :-)
Posted: 11/2/2010 12:00:54 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Or you can ride tandem...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3h9O9LGmNo

:-)
Posted: 11/3/2010 11:47:58 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

welcome to the theremin community! Looking forward to hearing about your theremin adventures.

Jason
Posted: 11/3/2010 9:28:00 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Actually, that sounds right. The zone of silence you found is called the zero beat.

Here comes the technical stuff - the theremin sound is produced by a "beat frequency oscillator". There are two radio frequency oscillators in it, one producing a waveform of a fixed frequency, and one producing a waveform that varies as you move closer to and further from the pitch rod. The audible sound of the theremin is the difference in frequency between these two radio frequency oscillators.

When they are both the same frequency the difference is zero. Silence.

When there is a very small difference between them you get a very low note. As the difference between them increases - as you move away from the zero beat in either direction - the note you hear increases in pitch.

Turning the pitch knob "tunes" one of the oscillators, just as you would tune a radio, moving the zero beat zone closer to or further away from the pitch rod, giving you a way to control the spacing between the notes.


(This is a simplification. I have put a more detailed, non-technical description of the theremin playing fields in a little pamphlet I wrote last year - here http://tinyurl.com/beatfreqbook. See the first chapter - "The Instrument". Note that purchase is optional, the "preview" link leads to a complete online copy.)
Posted: 11/3/2010 9:31:07 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Well, we have to assume the theremin was properly calibrated when it left the Moog Music factory.

Don't panic. What you've told us is basically what WE would expect. The problem is that YOU don't quite know what to expect.

One problem is we don't know where you are standing in the field while you are getting these results. Generally, the baseline is when you are standing at arms length from the pitch rod. But, that is not necessarily where everyone stands when they play, although some do.

When you adjust the pitch knob, you are actually moving the "dead spot". This will determine how much range you have access to and the spacing between the notes (assuming you intend to play defined notes). Most people play the theremin on the side of the dead spot where the pitch rises as you approach the antenna and drops as you move away.

Only you can decide what you want to play and what range you need to play in. Most people probably don't need to play in the bottom-most octave very often, if at all. One thing I will say is it is beneficial to adjust the range to maximize control and accuracy according to the articulation method you prefer to use.

As coalport would tell you, you should emulate the playing techniques of the player you most want to emulate.
If you haven't already, you should watch a number of youtube videos to see what style you prefer and discover who uses their techniques most successfully. This (http://www.youtube.com/user/copperleaves) would be a good place to start. This (http://www.thereminworld.com/players.asp) is another good point of reference.
Posted: 11/3/2010 9:55:39 PM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Going OT for a moment. Sorry.

Jeff- we can't assume that. When I went to Thierry Frenkel's gathering earlier this year he had just finished calibrating Carolina Eyck's new etherwave plus, which was factory fresh and had arrived in an unplayable condition. Whether it was like that when it left the factory or the trim caps got knocked about in transit I can't say. :-(

Posted: 11/3/2010 11:43:13 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Gordon - Right. I said, "we have to assume" because we have no way of knowing for sure with the information we were given. We still don't know his distance from the pitch rod when he was getting these results during the knob tweaking. I realize Moog Music has become lax prepping their products for shipping.

You *should* have no problem getting down to C2 (and below).

If you stand at arms length from the pitch rod and tune the pitch so that it is rising as you move your hand towards the antenna, you should be able to tune the pitch so you are at zero beat (dead spot) where you are standing. Then, you will be able to access the entire range the theremin is capable of with just the movement of your arm/hand.
Posted: 11/4/2010 5:06:08 AM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Jeff - sorry - I read "we [b]have[/b] to assume" when you wrote "we have to [b]assume[/b]".

I have posted a slow and not very steady hand sweep from zero beat to touching the pitch rod and back again on my etherwave standard here;

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1546794/etherwave%20sweep.mp3

The last few seconds should give you an idea of how low can etherwave an go.

Waveform and brightness are both at 12 o'clock.

(Don't be concerned if yours doesn't go quite as high as mine - mine was recently calibrated by Thierry to extend the range to the maximum possible which is above the factory standard.)
Posted: 11/4/2010 6:22:58 AM
GordonC

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Incidentally, I have a question for the engineers amongst us - I seem to be able to get a little bit lower before the sound starts "clicking" at the end of the sweep - moving down towards zero beat - than at the start - moving up out of zero beat.

Is this actually the case or is is just that I was moving more cautiously towards the end to try and find the lowest possible note? I have noticed that on my Gakken Mini there is an obvious difference - you enter the field at a significantly higher pitch than you leave it. I hypothesise that this is because once the fixed and variable oscillators are synchronised you have to "push" the variable oscillator to break the lock - if that makes sense.

I also guess the "clicking" is where the oscillators are trying to synchronise but aren't quite close enough? I heard the "Geiger counter zone" referred to as "prelock" once a few years ago (*), but have not encountered the term since.


(*) At Hands Off 2007 - we played a group piece largely in 'prelock'.

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