A Mystery Thereminist

Posted: 2/7/2010 4:02:14 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Here is a mystery!

Someone posted the following recording to YouTube. It was written by composer Arthur Tate, and recorded to 78 rpm disc, on London Records, sometime in the late 1940's by the renowned bandleader and conductor Mantovani. What sounds like a theremin figures prominently in the arrangement (and the person who posted the video insists it is a theremin) but I'm not so sure.

At the time, the only theremins available were RCA's and this does not sound at all like an RCA theremin. If it is a theremin, who is playing? It is certainly not the celebrated Dr. Hoffman who, as far as I know, never worked with Mantovani and was already having considerable success in the late 40's on RCA and Capitol with his three albums: MUSIC OUT OF THE MOON, PERFUME SET TO MUSIC and PEACE OF MIND.

Is this a theremin? Is it perhaps some other electronic device like an ondes Martenot?

Ideas anyone?

Somewhere A Voice Is Calling (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgY_6gXmeLk)
Posted: 2/7/2010 5:26:33 PM

From: new haven ct.

Joined: 7/8/2005

Well according to
http://www.hallowquest.com/archives.htm#Unusual ()
Montovani used a saw on this recording. However, he has used a theremin in the past on a tune called "Hear My Song, Violetta,"

Posted: 2/7/2010 6:48:18 PM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 10/6/2007

Well, it sounds like a saw to me. But never wanting to say I am sure about anything, because I'm usually wrong!, I have sent the link to celebrated sawyer David Weiss to see what he thinks.

Posted: 2/8/2010 6:15:46 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Great detective work Andy. Thank you - MYSTERY SOLVED. The instrument didn't sound to me like a theremin at all but it didn't sound much like a saw either. Of course, it was engineered to sound "distant" and that, along with the 78 rpm surface noise, may have masked some of the telltale earmarks of the saw.

I sent a private email to the person who posted the video in case he/she wants to edit the description box. I also included the URL you posted above.

Thanks Sherlock
Posted: 2/8/2010 7:28:28 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

One mystery solved, but another one found.

Who was the thereminist on Hear My Song, Violetta?
Posted: 2/9/2010 1:00:21 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008


Have you ever heard Mantovani's version of HEAR MY SONG VIOLETTA? I have tried to find it on the internet and have had no success. There are all sorts of other versions but his is the only one that *supposedly* uses a theremin.

Posted: 2/9/2010 3:54:06 PM

From: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Joined: 4/9/2008

Try here (http://beemp3.com/download.php?file=4331733&song=Hear+my+song%2C+Violetta)

A lousy recording, however.
Posted: 2/10/2010 5:05:55 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I have now. Thanks, ExclamPt.

Not sure, but maybe. If it is, then it seems to me that the most likely candidate is Musaire.
Posted: 2/11/2010 7:31:08 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

To me, the sound of the instrument on HEAR MY SONG VIOLETTA, sounds more like a musical saw than the instrument on SOMEWHERE A VOICE IS CALLING.

Much of the "Violetta" melody is taken from Verdi's opera LA TRAVIATA, whose heroine was the courtesan "Violetta". I think the arranger was looking for an operatic sound, without an actual opera singer (a classical soprano would probably have been a turn-off for the majority of the Mantovani audience).

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