theremin virgin!

Posted: 1/2/2006 6:07:24 PM

Joined: 12/26/2005

Am running off mains rather than battery and have been twiddling knob on back very slowly, but just can;t find a 'sweet' spot!
Posted: 1/6/2006 9:23:12 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Long shot. But were you able to tune to zero beat before? I think if you tune zero beat behind you, you might also get the effect you described.

Good luck, play often, listen hard.
Posted: 1/6/2006 11:57:59 AM

Joined: 12/26/2005

i am complete thicky and have no idea what 'zero beat' is and how i know whether it is behind me or not!!

i am naturally blonde so an explanantion of zero beat using small words would be gratefully recieved!! ;o)
Posted: 1/6/2006 3:27:13 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Hi Hels,

The zero beat point is where you should stand relative to the pitch antenna when playing.

When your hand is close to the antenna, it makes a high pitched noise. As you move your hand away the pitch gets lower and lower, until it is so low that you can't hear it any more. That is the zero beat point. As you move you hand further away the sound returns and you have left the zero beat point.

Think of it as being like the point where light comes to a focus when it passed through a lens.

This is how to adjust the theremin's settings so that the zero beat point is where you want it to be.

The idea of tuning the theremin is to get the zero beat point a comfortable distance away from the antenna so that when you stand with your hands by your side the theremin makes no noise, but just moving your right hand forwards a bit from your chest causes it to make a low growl (the theremin - not your chest!), rising to a high squeal when you almost touch the antenna, which should be a comfortable reach.

With the Kees, think of the knob at the back as the coarse tuning, and the knob at the front (number two if numbered from left to right) as the fine tuning.

Stand in the right position to play the theremin. Put the front knob so the white marker is at 12 o'clock, and then, keeping your right arm by your side, reach over the theremin with your other arm and turn the knob slowly until you get the pitch as low as possible. Now, also with your left hand turn the fine tuning knob until the noise stops completely.

Finally put your right hand up to your breastbone as if playing a very low note and just shuffle about a tiny bit to find exactly where the edge of the zero beat is.

If everything is working as it should you should now be ready to play...

Hope this helps.

Posted: 1/7/2006 8:13:55 AM

Joined: 12/26/2005

thank you so much gordon - this makes sense and i will try it out asap!

Posted: 1/7/2006 9:39:38 PM

From: COWafornia

Joined: 3/23/2005

BTY: It is called "Zero Beat" because it is the position in which the fixed osc and the veriable one are exactly in tune so you don't get any beat waves in the audio range.
Posted: 1/8/2006 9:38:26 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

Hels, when you talked about "back and forth" in regards to the pitch antenna, do you mean that you find it easier to hit the notes when your right hand is moving to and away from you body as opposed to left and right?

That is what I have found. It is a whole lot easier to guage the position of your pitch hand when it is moving away from your chest and back.
Posted: 1/8/2006 10:21:46 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

I agree. I was giving a lesson today and likened my preferred style to throwing darts. I believe you get much more control over your notes that way. You end up using the bicep and triceps to push/pull your hand towards and away from the pitch antenna. When going side by side, you're using your shoulder joint more, and torque is working against you.
Posted: 1/10/2006 8:46:05 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

That is a great description Jason, thank you!
I'll pose the second most popular question;
do you feel the same musculature, the upper arm, driving your vibrato or is it more from the shoulder? With other words: does the motion of your hand/forearm in relation to the floor seem horizontal or vertical?

Maybe we should copy these last couple posts to a new thread in the Technique forum under "Vibrato and Tremolo".

thanks all!
Posted: 1/10/2006 9:22:33 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

My vibrato results from moving the entire forearm from the elbow and I am moving my hand directly towards and away from the pitch antenna.

If I attempt a super-fast vibrato, I am present to some tension in my upper arm -- however, for normal vibrato, I work very hard to eliminate tension. Tension turns a relaxed/natural vibrato into a nervous/uncontrolled vibrato.

My forearm is in a vertical position for low notes and arcs somewhat towards the antenna when reaching for high notes -- quite similar to the throwing dart position that Jason described.

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.