ADEPT - Analogue/Digital Easier Play Theremin

Posted: 6/5/2008 3:11:22 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]Gordon C: "Fred, I don't think you and Richard are competing."[/i]

Hi Gordon, Richard, Tesla ..

I think 'competition' can be a bit of a 'dirty' word when it comes to ventures like this.. All (or certainly most) people designing / creating new musical instruments, do so (I believe) for reasons other than money or competing.. It is in many cases a compulsion which verges on mental illness (obsessive compulsive disorder) driven by the desire to invent, and create something original and beautiful. All of us 'sufferers' of this 'disorder' depend on each other - our designs are evolutional progressions of what others have done, and there are occasional 'Eureka' moments when a real step 'forward' is realised.

Reality invades into this utopian world when survival is at risk - When inventors compete to capture a limited market, by putting each other down (as with theremin adverts where advertisers declare all circuits which do not contain inductors as 'sub-standard').. Or when (as with Moog vs Arp) some IP rights are violated - Such a shame! If Moog + Arp had got on with each other, they could have advanced analogue synthesis for everyone, and the market was big enough for both.. Instead they fought and the instruments suffered.

For me, I now do not believe my venture into Theremins was commercially sensible - And have realised that I took this path for PERSONAL rather than Commercial reasons - I wanted a Theremin which was easy to play, and sounded like a Mini-Moog! - I wanted to be able to play the Moog Lead on "lucky Man" on a Theremin.. And from this simple obsession my exploration of Theremins began.. Since then my position has swung towards the classical Theremin - I have grown to love the instrument as an instrument - not just as a control mechanism.

I dont want competition - in fact I would prefer to be invisible, designing for manufacturers or anyone who provides me with enough to feed my family and my obsessions! And I will happily share my ideas / knowledge etc with other developers - I personally think if a few of us worked together we could take Capacitive musical instruments to another level - and that doing so would increase the market hugely, giving space for us all to make a reasonable living while doing what we love.

But.. If the market got bigger, there would be greater chance that 'big business' would become interested - I watched this happen synthesis, when low cost plastic keyboard synths from Japan wiped out the British Analogue Synthesiser producers (I was working for Jeremy Lord Synthesisers, which changed to making medical products as Lord Medical, because there was a near total collapse in sales of the expensive Sky-Wave Synthesiser) .. Perhaps this is what makes Theremin Design / production attractive at present - the fact that it is one of the few remaining electronics 'cottage' industries.
Posted: 6/5/2008 7:04:56 PM

From: Escondido, CA

Joined: 2/6/2008

I just wish your "cottage" was a bit closer to mine in CA, Fred! I really have appreciated your insight on many topics.


Posted: 6/5/2008 11:04:31 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 just wish your "cottage" was a bit closer to mine in CA, Fred! I really have appreciated your insight on many topics.[/i]

Thank you for these kind words, Don. Yeah.. it would be nice to be closer to you in CA, and to Teslatheremin,and Thomas, and to Thierry in France.. And I havent even met Gordon in England yet! LOL!

If it wasnt for this amazing invention (internet) none of us would know of the existance of each other, let alone have the ability to share ideas, insights, and music etc..

So, I suppose I see TW as a village in which there are some cottages occupied by nutters like me, who love playing with and/or designing strange electronic instruments! - And probably many of us are not appreciated by those we live with [i](they do not appreciate our compositions, or do not understand why another box of components has been bought, but we cannot afford anything more than a 1 week camping holiday this year)[/i] so we get together at the local pub [i](the TW forum)[/i] where we give each other encouragment...
Posted: 6/6/2008 3:33:09 PM

From: Escondido, CA

Joined: 2/6/2008

I can identify with that, Fred!

My wife goes between "why are you buying all this stuff from Mouser" to "why can't you build me a ..."

The good news is that we are in the same band and have a lot of common interests.

Posted: 6/7/2008 6:25:41 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

A thought, Richard. Would it be possible to apply pitch correction to only one of oscillators, leaving the other operating atonally?

I theorise that this could be a training aid to playing melodically in purely atonal mode by providing a reference pitch during practice, and in performance could give musically interesting microtonal interactions, adding variety to the timbre (and sweetening slightly off notes. :-)
Posted: 6/7/2008 10:40:20 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

FredM... and everyone here:
I, surely would like to spend a day with each of you! Watching a performance, playing, making noise, Theremin: whatever!
At least in the U.K., Thereminists are within a train and bus ride of each other. The USA is all about the motorcar. I live in a town that is a national joke,(google Toledo, Ohio and Mayor), and I have yet to shake hands with a fellow 'hands-off' person.
But, I am greatly thankful for all of you here at Theremin World!
Good Luck!

Posted: 6/10/2008 4:06:59 AM

Joined: 5/20/2008

Dear Gordon, I'm sorry for the delay in replying. This is in response to your question about only one oscillator being pitch corrected. Of course, that is readily possible - but the down side is that it would need another control knob and I am trying to keep the number of knobs to between 10 and 15.

What I envisage is ADEPT with quite a load of pleasing features, fairly similar to what you have seen already, but then for me to collect the views of possible purchasers so that a variant might be generated subsequently. The trouble with variants is that they inevitably cost the purchaser more, and so I am quietly getting on with the fundamental (should that be fun-a-mental?) device so that the first stage in this possible sequence can be accomplished.

Posted: 6/10/2008 11:16:17 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[i]"A parallel example of this occurred some years ago when I offered for free some circuitry and designs to local dioceses so that when their church organs had failed and there was no money to fix them, they could keep their old organ hardware, but secretly generate the organ sounds from concealed electronics stashed somewhere among the pipes. Their reaction was frigid enough, but when I suggested the idea to the Royal College of Organists you would think that I had offered to eat babies for breakfast, such was their level of horror at such a modern invasion of traditional technology."[/i]

A similar analogy would be to replace the circuitry of a vintage RCA theremin with something else within the same case. Most thereminists appreciate the importance of the original electronics for both historic and musical reasons and would be aghast at such an action.

Pipe organs have musical and historic value, too, and in most cases to replace the pipes with speakers would be a poor decision.

This is not meant to diminish technology's usefulness. In fact, I play a digital organ that includes MIDI and an external sound module and 20 channels. It does a great job in my situation where we have to accompany a 40 voice choir in a loft that doesn't have room for (nor will support the weight of) a suitable pipe organ.

While I prefer pipe organs, I wouldn't say that I'm dogmatic about them. I am always hesitant to replace an already-existing pipe organ with electronics.

I take care of a number of wonderful pipe organs that are over 100 years old. They are heirlooms -- valuable treasures -- and to replace those vintage pipes with electronics is unthinkable.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]
Posted: 6/10/2008 11:31:59 AM

Joined: 5/20/2008

Hi there Kevin - I think that your comment is very valid, provided of course that the organs are maintained. Perhaps what I did not make quite clear enough in my original text was that because there was no money available in the dioceses, then the two options which existed were (i) replace with freely supplied electronic circuits, or (ii) have no organ at all. As you will surmise, the latter is now the case in various places. Richer church communities have fundraising schemes to attempt to fix their conventional wind instruments, but the poorer rural churches we have here in central England cannot always afford to do so.

I did not wish to give the impression that I would merely rip the guts out of an old organ and replace it for free just for the hell of it... it was merely to offer an expedient where no other existed.

Best wishes,

Posted: 6/10/2008 8:19:07 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 did not wish to give the impression that I would merely rip the guts out of an old organ and replace it for free just for the hell of it"

Hi Richard,
There would be no need to rip anything out, would there? One could 'simply' have the digital electronics, and leave the original organ intact, waiting for some future renovation.

If conversion was irreversible, I would strongly side with the conservative organists on this.. There is no comparison (in my opinion) between the best digital organ and even a mediocre pipe organ - I would opt for the pipes any day!

About 10 years ago I supplied a kit of boards to a local organist, these were designed to fit under organ keyboards and used capacitive sensing, and provided MIDI output - They were used to allow recording of performance by MIDI sequencer.. but could easily have driven MIDI sound modules directly. The only problem (which was not thought about when it was too late) was that the stops (voice selections) were not recorded.. I think that this would be the most difficult thing to implement if one does not want to 'rip up' the original organ.. If only the keyboard is used, and voice selection was performed by some other means, then I imagine that the objections would dissapear.

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