RensD Progress....

Posted: 11/9/2007 2:28:13 PM

From: New York, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

RensD it is so great to see you jumping in with both hands with the Theremin. You hit the shape of the part right out of the gate.

The suggestions above already seem right on.
When I worked on that piece I had to do it
*!really!* slow particularly on the scalar passages.
I never fell in love with it tough so only use it as an exercise and don't perform it.

No matter what you think of your singing voice it helps to learn to sing the part too as well as play it on the theremin, even if you have to switch octaves a few times to sing it all.
singing it a cappella too really helps lock it into your head.

keep playing!
Posted: 11/9/2007 9:43:31 PM

From: Toledo, Ohio United States of America

Joined: 2/22/2006

Hello RensD,
What Theremin did you finally build or purchase?
I have listened to your recordings and I think that you could have the 'knack'. Three days and attempting The Swan--- Woo-Hoo!
I am in agreement with the quite knowledgeable K. Kissinger: I enjoyed your rendition better than one played with proficiency because of my dislike for that song.
I like the fact that you are presenting audio 'snap-shots' of your progress. Your bravery is greater than mine!

Good Luck!

Posted: 11/10/2007 5:32:17 AM

From: Blaricum, The Netherlands

Joined: 10/24/2007

Thanks for the reactions.

I just happen to be very happy to have found an instrument I can handle.
Tried the guitar, but my fingers are to stiff to handle the accords.
Tried the piano, but my fingers are to stiff to handle the accords.
Tried the trumpet, but I did not like that. Was not MY instrument.

All my life I wanted to play an instrument, but could not find the right toy.
And now I found the Theremin, or it found me. And I can handle this.
Rens is happy.

>You hit the shape of the part right out of the gate.
I'm sorry. My English is not that good.
What do you mean with that?
I trust you mean well. :-)
But I'm dutch, so what do I know. :-)

"Omhoge" ruffly translated from Dutch, means 'risen' or 'rising'.
Honor your name. :-D

I have purchased a Moog Etherwave. A black one. Complete with a standard, amp, bag, DVD, etc....
(No, not the pro, I'm very sorry to say. That's the one I would like to have.)
It was a 40 euro difference, building or buying..... so I was lazy and purchased pre-build.

I do like 'The Swan' very much. That's why I tried. If the swan himself was happy with it....?
And, well, I don't know if I'm brave. I just know that if I would like people to teach me, they have to judge me. So, they will have to have something to judge. And I thought that 'sound' would do the job. I COULD try and make a drawing of my Theremin and post it. :-D

And @omhoge..... I don't think I'll be posting singing of me....
I'm not THAT brave. ROLF
Posted: 11/10/2007 11:09:21 PM

From: Morrisville, PA

Joined: 10/19/2005


After hearing of your "Swan" from Kevin, I gave it a listen and considering the length of time you've been playing, I'd say that you WILL play it and the instrument very well. In fact, it's clear that you comprehend and utilize all the basic principles involved in playing the theremin. It's more a matter of wrestling them all into proportion.

All it takes is practice and persistence. There are pieces I've worked on over periods of as many as four years - all my first attempts at these piece ever did was make me laugh at myself for thinking I'd ever be able to play them; then, over time, they began to gel. I'd work on other things, eventually coming back to the more difficult ones. They became playable.

As far as The Swan goes, I happen to love the piece - I grew up with the Saint Saens Carnival of Animals, never associating The Swan with a theremin.

Keep going, keep playing whatever you like. I think you've got the knack, and your work will only get better as you find your way.

Posted: 11/11/2007 4:21:33 AM

From: Blaricum, The Netherlands

Joined: 10/24/2007


Thanks for the comment. I'm red like a traffic light for blushing.

> Keep going, keep playing whatever you like.
I gave the 'Ave Maria' from Schubert a try, just out of the blue.
My wife insists on making a sound byte of THAT. And so, obedient as I am, I will as soon as I get the change.
She was very pleased, because it came out pretty smooth and I played around with a bit of vibrato which turned out very well.
Now I just hope I'll be able to do that again to make the recording. :-)

I'm learning 'The Swan' half speed now.
You tell me, half speed will half the learning time. :-) You did not mention that it is TWICE as hard!
The notes in the Swan are pretty long as they are. And at half speed, they grow into unmanageable length. It's terrible!
You told me, the key to Theremin playing is being able to hold long notes steady. I get the point. :-) So I will keep on trying.

Wilco Botermans has offered me the possibility to visit him ones in a while to do some lessons.
He tells me however, that educating people is not his strongest point. Hence the next question.
Are the other people in my neighborhood that can teach me? Does anybody know? If there is, I'll be happy to visit and pay for the lessons, just as I'm going to pay Wilco if no one else is available.

Thanks for all the encouragement from all of you.

Posted: 11/15/2007 10:51:48 AM

From: Blaricum, The Netherlands

Joined: 10/24/2007

Hello all,

[b]Oke... This is day nine of my music making career.[/b]
I have been studying my ass off.
(And trust me, I have a BIG ass. :-)

Though I have tried to play a lot of different parts, I still love 'The Swan' the most.
And, one should be able to compare. So, (sorry Kevin and Omhoge) here is The Swan, second edition (
I practiced half speed as you can hear. (I DO listen to advice so now and than. :-)
This one has some 'vibrato', with which I'm very happy, hence the 'Yeah' at the end.

[b]Evaluating my own work:[/b]

[i]1: Pitch[/i]
I still have trouble getting the pitch right.
Absolute pitch? Not really. Though I must say that my 'hearing pitch' is better than my 'playing pitch'.
With that I mean, I can HEAR a tone, and tell if the pitch is right or not.
I can't PLAY the tone on a Theremin with the right pitch. (Yet)

Since I still play tones using my complete arm, there is one of the other problems.
I can not switch tones rapidly. I think I should learn 'aerial fingering'. I have studied the 'jumping' video from Kevin, but that is not completely clear to me. (Lack of musical experience.)
Where can I get more information on that subject? What are the positions?

[i]2: Timing[/i]
I still have trouble getting the metronome right.
I can read notes a little bit now, as in: I can follow the notes on paper ones I have started the melody, but I do not yet have the feeling of when to start or end a note. (How long is 'a note'?)
My guess is, this also is due to the fact I have never done anything with music before in my life.
Can't change that fact, so I have to deal with it, but i might have to consider my priorities.
Am I going to try along until I can? Or should i take lessons to fix this problem?
(Where? What kind of lessons?)

[i]3: Enthusiasm[/i]
Well.... Nothing wrong there.
I still practice every day. Not every day the same amount of time, because I do better one day with more fun, than an other day when I make an absolute mess of it.
Also, I like to have some quiet around me when practicing. This is not always possible having 4 children at home, with all their boy- and girlfriends hanging around. :-)
And me suffering from a big burnout at the moment, does not help either....

So, that is it for now.
Please, please, do comment.

Friendly greetings
Posted: 11/17/2007 12:12:21 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005


You have a good sense of pitch that will serve you well as you develop your hand/ear coordination.

You need to work on your scales. I would suggest that you work on the christmas carol, "Joy to the World" to get used to the small intervals. Don't try to play Joy to the World up to tempo... just choose a comfortable speed that allows you to play the notes cleanly.

Getting back to "The Swan", you are definately getting the hang of holding long notes. Try to shape them a bit with your volume hand and/or some vibrato (you already do a little vibrato -- don't be afraid of it). On long notes, it is best for something to happen as the note plays -- that is, to add or back off some vibrato or to louden then soften the notes as you hold them.

On many of your notes, you are hitting them a little "off" and then correcting to pitch. To do this is very good -- whenever you hit a note off go ahead and correct it to pitch -- don't just hold an "off" note in the hopes that it might sound ok anyway :) In fact, if your correction is done artfully, it may start to sound like you planned it that way!

A great effort for your second tape. Again, work on "Joy to the World" and keep working on "The Swan". See if you can get the scale passages clean and then increase the tempo a little at a time.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]
Posted: 11/19/2007 5:34:01 PM

From: Blaricum, The Netherlands

Joined: 10/24/2007

Hello All,

Alexander suggested I practice "Silent Night".
And I have been working on my vibrato.
These two facts are combined into Silent night with vibrato (

It is a little off tone here and there. This is because I seem to be able to get the right pitch without vibrato, but adding vibrato kills my feeling for pitch.

This is b.t.w. the first evening I tried to play silent night. The recording is about the 10-th time I played it.

But please y'all. Do comment.


P.S. Garvan.... Your turn... :-)
Posted: 11/19/2007 7:12:20 PM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

[i]It is a little off tone here and there. This is because I seem to be able to get the right pitch without vibrato, but adding vibrato kills my feeling for pitch.[/i]

I think what's happening here is that concentrating on one is costing you the other. Your vibrato should be much gentler... what I do is create just enough tension in my wrist to cause my hand to start shaking. But then, I am prone to tremors - this probably won't work for everyone!
Posted: 11/19/2007 7:29:18 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

That's pretty cool - you're finding the "singing lady" voice, but at times she sounds very scared. I think you are tensing your arm too much to get the vibrato, and consequently its a bit wide - almost a trill - and a bit overwhelming as well as throwing your pitch off. Try finding the note without vibrato, and then just let your hand shiver a little. Imagine polishing a ladybird. (Someone has to make sure they stay nice and shiny!)

Kevin said don't be afraid of vibrato. I agree, and add: use it judiciously.

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