New Forums Member

Posted: 6/18/2019 4:32:37 PM
DreadVox

From: The East of Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

After reading forum messages and archives for several months finally took the jump to join here.

About a year ago I was searching for a new musical instrument challenge and the theremin had moved up to the top of my mental wishlist.
After due consideration I decided to get a Theremini for starters, figuring that if I wouldn't make progress in conventional musical playing it would still be useful for special Fx (it's better than a dub siren box) and to drive/control my old analog MS20 synth and VST plugins on a laptop.
Initially was having trouble with it emitting a soft but annoying warble noise from the internal speaker (even when volume dial was at zero) and after a week got a new one that manifested the same issue. When I sent it back the shop decided to send it to the importer and it took over two months until I got it back with a note saying they couldn't find the problem .

With limited means I started trying to diagnose the problem and what helpe me locate it was a small portable AM radio that I waved all around the theremini and the connected cables and power adapter.  The adapter turned out to be the culprit, it was very noisy in terms of electromagnetic interference, aound the adapter and along the cables (both the one going to the 230V grid as well as to the Theremini, and also a pattern of maxima and minima along cables going to amplifier(s).

After I let both Bax Music (the supplier) and Moog Music know my findings a new power adapter was ordered, which took another 2 months to arrive and had the exact same problem, and in the mean while I first used an old 12V DC transformer based 'universal adapter', which did introduce a slight hum, but that was less annoying that the 'warble/whine' which was in a spectrum between 1-4 kHz from the original adapter. When I wanted to take my Theremini to a new year's eve party with friends I got a new 12V keyboard adapter (meant for Medeli/Yamaha kbs) wich even though it's a switching mode power supply doesn't cause any nastyness. For the rare occasion I would play the theremini unconnected to a safety-grounded amplifier I made an electrical mains plug with only a wire connected to safety earth and can be connected to the earthing screw of the theremini. I still would like to make a somewhat taller pitch antenna for it, especially since I got an Etherwave Plus as well last month, but it is quite hard to find some 3/8" metal tubing in a 'metric country' where it jumps from 8 mm to 10 mm for most of the metal tubes or rods one can find for sale.

So, last month after taking the theremini to a few local jam sessions I decided I was making enough progress to warrant getting an Etherwave Plus as an upgrade and addition to my 'musical instrument arsenal/palette' and I haven't regretted it.
The weekend after receiving my new EW Plus I had the opportunity to go to a concert and a workshop by Carolina Eyck in Amsterdam so that provided even more motivation and inspiration .

Recently I did my first public solo try-out performance at a small local festival, which turned out to be a bit on the short side, about 15 minutes, but that also had the positive side that many expressed afterwards that they would have liked to hear some more.

Last week at another jamsession several people asked to briefly try out playing afterwards and about three people were considering getting a theremin too and asking where they could buy one and how much they cost. Audio pitch preview turns out to be more practical in a jam session then the visual pitch display on the theremini, having an option to use the headphones out of the theremini in pitch preview mode would be a useful addition, but I don't know if that can possibly done in a firmware upgrade or if it would need a physical modification.

I do think the Theremini deserves some love too which as any musical instrument and audio gear does have its own strengths and limitations which make it reasonably useful as a beginner instrument to start to learn actual melodic/harmonic playing and as sound Fx engine and driver/controller for synths and software based instruments/Fx. The pitch correction/quantisation of the Theremini is best used very sparingly/occasionally just for a special effect, in practice it rather hinders than helps learning to play with some accuracy.

I've put some pieces of silicon tubing at the base, slightly above the center and at the top of my theremini's and etherwave's pitch rods, where the bottom ones helps to stabilise any wobblyness, the center piece is where I generally aim with my pitch hand and where I can touch without risking ESD damage to the circuits and I also wrapped the Etherwave's volume loop in electrical isolating tape that had lost it's adhesive power, with a stretch of purple ribbon wrapped around that. the silicon tubing on the tops of the pitch antenna's extends slightly and I have placed some souble ended quarts crystals on top of them, and that makes them even look a bit more like a magic wand . I also find myself placing some small symbolic objects on the Etherwave box, like a 'Herkimer diamond' quartz crystal cluster that resembles a turtle, a small deer antler, a slice of amethyst crystal and a small ceramic 'travel Buddha'. One of my points of interest is 'shamanistic' use of sound/music/instruments, and I think the theremin could also have a place in that, being human voice like but also 'otherworldly' and connected to the unseen, and several animal sound imitations can be done (whale song, whinnying horse, bird calls/song, wolf howling) on it.

I guess this will have to serve as my introduction for now, nice to meet you all.

Posted: 7/12/2019 12:03:18 AM
Yeapsystar

From: Weert, Limburg, the Netherlands

Joined: 4/10/2012

Hi there DreadVox!

As we know each ohers for quite som years now, and we also have played together a couple of times (mostly you playing didge or crackle boxes and me playing theremin), I'm TRULY happy to see that you finally have been "infected by the theremin virus"! It's REALLY great to see you here!
I already knew you and your musical capabilitis, so it doesn't wonder me at all that you are already playing the theremin rather well!
Keep on doing the GREAT things you do! And I'm looking forward to see you upcoming Saturday in Utrecht at the Ridder Radio Dag ;-)

Lots of love and hugs,

Yeapsystar ;-)

Posted: 7/12/2019 11:19:13 AM
DreadVox

From: The East of Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

Hi Yeapsystar,

Nice to see you posting here too! Since I first saw a theremin being played live the desire to play it already took hold, and this must have been in the 90s at a DFM benefit/showcase event. At the time I was deep into the didjeridu (yidaki) journey which I knew would keep me challenged for quite a while longer, so I kind of stored the idea in my back brain for when the time would be ripe. The times we played/jammed together did help to reinforce my interest in the theremin. At some point I got back into playing guitar (acoustic and electric) wich did need some attention and practice to get back at my previous playing level, and getting some new gear like a modeler/multi-Fx pedal and some low wattage tube amplifiers (modified with lower gain pin compatibe tubes to have a more clean sound, that now also turn out to work lovely for theremin. About 2 years ago I seriously started considering a theremin as a next/new musical challenge. Last year I decided to choose the Moog Theremini to 'get my feet (hands) wet', while having some idea of its strong and weak points, and it served me well for getting started.

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