A good book for beginners?

Posted: 9/2/2012 7:32:06 PM

From: Greece

Joined: 9/2/2012

Hi everyone,

I always loved the theremin sound but until now I was afraid to try it, although I am a musician with a decent sense of relative pitch. I borrowed one recently and I love it so I intend to buy one. The borrowed one (Moog Etherwave) didn't contain any DVD or tutorials, because the guy who gave it to me had bought it used.

Before I buy a new one I want to be sure that it suits me and it will be one of my instruments to produce music, so I am looking for a good book for beginners. Until now I was recording arpege triads and scales to a loopstation with my guitar and I was playing them over with the theremin. I searched but I didn't find any sketches of the hand positions that you mention often, so my technique is a bit clumsy and random.

I' d like it to contain tech info about calibration and linear tuning (tech talk is welcome, I am a physicist too), body position and sketches of hand positions to acquire all the intervals within an octave, etc.

Thanks in advance :)

Posted: 9/2/2012 8:01:08 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Unlike traditional instruments there is no single, established way to play the theremin. There are lots of tutorials, books, and HOW TO vids and DVD's out there. My advice is to find the player you like best and get that person's instructional material. If they don't have any, then the best thing to do is to imitate, as well as you possibly can, every detail of their playing technique and keep doing it until your own style and approach kick in spontaneously. This could take anywhere from six weeks to six months (or more) depending on whether or not you are a "natural" on the instrument. 

The biggest mistake that newcomers to the theremin make is to believe that they do not need to take a "formal" approach to the instrument they way they would if they were going to study the violin or the harp, and that they can figure it all out for themselves, by ear, as they go along. What happens is that they come up with ways of doing things that initially sound O.K., without realizing that what they are doing is unsustainable and eventually they hit a brick wall.

Most thereminists are self-taught and no two play exactly alike. One of the problems this has created is that with no competent teacher to oversee their progress, many budding newbies have unwittingly developed habits that later interfere with their ability to advance. This can be very discouraging and is one of the reasons why the dropout rate is so high among thereminists.

While there is no "right" way or "wrong" way to play, there are approaches that will help you get where you want to go and others that will hinder you. 

CARDINAL RULE: Since everyone who plays the theremin is an expert, never take any advice on how to play from anyone whose playing you have not heard or do not enjoy. 


Posted: 9/2/2012 8:21:14 PM

From: Greece

Joined: 9/2/2012

thanks for your response

I very much like the sound and playing of Thomas Grillo but my beginner's questions are as much fundamental as specific. I would buy any book that contains typical answers to the subjects that I describe in my last paragraph and then I would apply my personal musical criteria. I believe there aren't many ways to tune your theremin in order to play an octave within your palm's range or to achieve maximum linearity.

P.S. In my opinion there is no musical instrument with a single established way to play it, but there are methods for beginners that ought to look alike :)

PS 2. Ι forgot to mention that I'm not allowed to buy Grillo's Lessons from Amazon because I don't have an american debit card. Any chance I can find the DVD (or downloadable files) in a European dealer?

Posted: 9/2/2012 9:40:25 PM

Joined: 3/30/2012

I recommend Thomas Grillo's video course. He spends a lot of time demonstrating hand and arm position for intervals, etc.

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