The Timbre of the Theremin. . . . and advice for a beginner.

Posted: 2/28/2005 12:51:41 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

(I should stress that because I am a complete novice when it comes to the theremin, and have yet to even order the instrument I apologise now if I miss something blindingly obvious here.)

Anyway. I desperately want to learn to play the theremin. I have been playing the Piano and singing since I was six, but want to do something different. I can sense now that it's the theremin. I've been thinking about it for ages now, but after hearing Carolina Eyck play "Spellbound" I made up my mind. I wanted to learn the thereminvox.

I seem to have encountered a small problem however. Being strapped for cash I will probably have to make do with the "Moog Etherwave". In comparing the timbre of this to that of the huge RAC stylee theremins played by the proffesionals I am a bit upset though.

Is the grunty electronic sound all that you can get from the moogs? In comparison to the fantastic, almost soprano-like sound of the Wooden box (name?) theremins this is somewhat dissapointing.

I could go on asking more questions, but I expect that it's just a case of the quality of the instruments. Or is it the player? Follow these links to hear what I mean:

Nice soprano-like theremin: http://www.carolina-eyck.de/AudVideo/Spellbound.html
Rather less nice groany theremin: http://www.obsolete.com/120_years/machines/theremin/EWAVE1.WAV

What is it that makes these two recordings so different? Please help me! Thanks a lot.
Posted: 2/28/2005 2:22:48 PM
DiggyDog

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

There was a post recently about Peter Pringle's theremin sound and how he gets a smoother sound on the same instruments that have been featured on some classic recordings.

Besides his excellent playing technique, a large part of it is the effects processor he runs it through.

The Etherwave has controls that will allow you to
adjust the brightness as well as the wave form. The wave form is the most useful to me. It can go from a harsh sawtooth pattern to a more mellow, soprano-like pattern with the twist of a knob.

It is not as smooth and etherial as Mr Pringle's sound and maybe not the same as the RCA insturments but I still think it is very haunting.



Posted: 2/28/2005 3:03:58 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

I would also say it really matters which amp you play your theremin through.

I noticed while playing my Ethervox this weekend that it sounds kinda plain through headphones, but played through my Roland KC100 keyboard amp, its sounds much warmer and "interesting".
Posted: 2/28/2005 4:18:42 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

Thanks a lot for your help. Can you link me to the thread? I can't seem to find it- I'd be interested in getting some sort of effects mod to run the theremin through. But only once I've practiced.

Thanks again.
Posted: 2/28/2005 8:23:28 PM
Cortex 007

From: Albany NY

Joined: 2/14/2005

Forgot to sign in for that last comment..sorry Jason.
Posted: 3/1/2005 12:02:24 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

With no offense intended towards Jason, that's one of the worst samples of the sound of the Etherwave I've heard. To get a better taste listen to the Etherwave sample at the Moog website.

http://www.moogmusic.com/detail.php?main_product_id=14

Also it appears that Carolina Eyck is playing a Moog Ethervox, one of the best theremins ever made.

The Moog Ethewave is a fine instrument with a nice range of timbre. However, Peter Pringle has shown that with a little ingenuity the Moog Etherwave can can be made to sound even sweeter. He once posted a piece with the Etherwave played through his tube processor. The difference was astounding. He uses the same device for all of his theremins, with which he uses the equalizer to boost the mid-tones for a more "human" voice.

Jason is correct when he says the choice of amps can make all the difference. However I believe it has more to do with the "speaker" than the electronics. Through my small guitar amp (with four 4 inch speakers) my theremins sound buzzy. Using the same "amp" to drive a 15 inch Peavy Black Widow, the sound is dramatically better. The sound is warmer and smoother by far. You can get a really great sound running it though a good stereo system or stage monitors. I proved again tonight that the settings on your amp (gain, volume, master) can make a dramatic difference as well.
Posted: 3/1/2005 5:47:33 AM
regmtait

From: UK

Joined: 2/15/2005

Adding a bit of reverb when recording or playing live helps a lot too.
Posted: 3/1/2005 8:18:50 AM
DiggyDog

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

The other thread is here

http://www.thereminworld.com/forum.asp?cmd=p&T=709&F=1
Posted: 3/6/2005 2:39:09 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

It's come to my attention that Carolina Eycks plays a Moog 91A theremin, not a Moog Ethervox.
Posted: 3/6/2005 9:14:28 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Jeff, just so I know which sounds to go erase, which Etherwave sample are you referring to? :)

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