Bagpipes and Theremin Together On Stage

Posted: 10/18/2013 3:52:48 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Fresh from TEDx Madrid, here are piper Cristina Pato & thereminist Javier Diez-Ena performing together.


I like the theremin (obviously) and I like the bagpipe (but still haven't started, but personally, having them together just didn't really work for me. 

Posted: 10/18/2013 4:21:51 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

That link took us to the "Day the Earth Stood Still"

Let's try this Theremin Bagpipe

I did not get any audio from the video?  It seems to show up 45 seconds into the piece. Ok now the sound starts at the beginning.

I enjoyed their expressions when I could not hear them, but I do like the attempt, it almost gets away from the standard theremin whistle or that washed up opera sound. I would enjoy more exploration in the direction they are going.

They are having fun and that is what too often is sucked out of the theremin experience.


Posted: 10/18/2013 11:42:30 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

I had no trouble with the audio/video synchronization, but the volume is very low.  Still, the performance by Cristina Pato on the Galician bagpipe is wonderful. Unfortunately the thereminist, Javier Diez-Ena, on his backwards E'Pro theremin, is not even close to the level of skill or musicianship of Senorita Pato. The guy can't play worth a damn!


There was no rapport at all between the pipes and the theremin. Unimaginative and poorly executed FX.


Rob Roy Meets The Thing.

Posted: 10/20/2013 1:38:34 PM

Joined: 3/30/2012

I cannot stand the noise of bagpipes (aka agony bags). In fact, I would support a law that says if you commit murder during bagpipe playing then you are excused on the grounds of temporary insanity owing to severe mental torture.

Posted: 10/20/2013 5:07:46 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

I rather liked the bagpipes in the TedX Madrid performance, but would gladly have participated in a mob lynching of the theremin player.

The bagpipes belong to a small group of instruments for which there is no volume control (I play the hurdy-gurdy which belongs to that group). These instruments are not intended to be played inside and are best enjoyed when they are played in the public square - or in the case of the bagpipes, in the next valley!

Posted: 10/20/2013 9:52:02 PM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

As it happens I love the bagpipes.

The Gaitas have a sweeter sound than the Great Highland Pipes but both are lovely so far as I'm concerned.

As for this TED musical collaboration, I'm not really sure what they were trying to achieve musically: was it a duo, a 'follow my playing', an attempt to demonstrate that the theremin could make similar noises to the Gaitas or what?

Personally I don't think that either player shined on their respective instrument.

Posted: 10/20/2013 11:23:50 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Christina Pato is a fine piper in the tradition of Galician musicians, and the style of music they play is quite different from the Great Highland pipes (which, like you, I LOVE).


The fact is, if you are going to have a productive collaboration between musicians, you have to have two people who are equally accomplished on their respective instruments. The man who played the theremin in the video above is an FX avant-gardiste and experimental player, with little skill as a precision thereminist. 


I thought Christina was very generous with him. If he had been on stage with me, and I could play the Galician pipes as well as Christina can, I would have wiped the floor with the guy and sent him scurrying back to his loopers, computers and guitar FX pedals.





Posted: 10/21/2013 3:10:04 PM

From: Theremin Motherland

Joined: 11/13/2005

" a precision thereminist... " -- coalport

Sounds like a "precision violinist",  "precision organist",  "precision trombonist"  etc. How could it be otherwise?

If a person has sufficient skills, he is  a "precision  musician", ok, else  your fancy expression "FX avant-gardiste and experimental player" is a fig leaf to cover up (politely) the inability to play an instrument.

Posted: 10/21/2013 7:24:48 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

ILYA ~ You are going to be sliding down this slippery slope if you start this argument here I am afraid...


" a precision thereminist... " -- coalport

Sounds like a "precision violinist",  "precision organist",  "precision trombonist"  etc. How could it be otherwise?

If a person has sufficient skills, he is  a "precision  musician", ok, else  your fancy expression "FX avant-gardiste and experimental player" is a fig leaf to cover up (politely) the inability to play an instrument.

Posted: 10/22/2013 12:34:26 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008



Ever since the theremin was introduced, the community of musicians drawn to the instrument seems to have divided itself into two distinct groups: those interested primarily in aleatoric "Free Music" (like composer Percy Grainger) and traditional musicians (like the late Clara Rockmore) who devoted themselves to playing traditional melodies with accuracy and precision (hence the expression "precision thereminist"). 


The difference between aleatoric (= chance) theremin playing and precision playing, has to do with the ability of the thereminist to accurately repeat what he or she has just played so that for all intents and purposes it is identical to previous performances of the same composition.


A third category of theremin playing introduced itself in the late 1940's when Samuel Hoffman began using his RCA theremin to create effects for SciFi, horror and suspense film soundtracks.  Hoffman was a classically trained violinist and, like Clara Rockmore, he brought his skill as a professional violinist to his theremin playing. Although Hoffman played FX theremin for dozens of films, as far as I know he had no interest in aleatoric or Free Music.


There are plenty of thereminists who play exclusively experimental music, and they do very well at it, but they are unable to play THE SWAN or the VOCALISE or any other theremin potboiler with consistent precision. I would not call them "bad" thereminists or "bad" musicians. They are simply not precision players. As one experimental thereminist said when he was asked if he could play THE SWAN, "Why would I want to?"


As far as I know, there is no such thing as a "non-precision" or "aleatoric" organist, violinist or trombonist. The reason for this is that although you could play aleatoric music on any one of these instruments, in order to do it you would have to possess a level of technique that would permit it. 


With the theremin, as RCA pointed out back in 1929, no skill or musical training of any kind is needed and "a elderly lady....a blind man" can do it without any practice, knowledge or musical instruction of any kind.


Amey - "'s nice to have you back where you belong!"




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