# Moog Theremini!

Posted: 1/24/2014 8:23:15 PM

From: Brooklyn,NY

Joined: 12/1/2009

I dont know how pitch correction works exactly, but wouldnt it prohibit vibrato?

Posted: 1/24/2014 9:09:13 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

My approach is to do nothing at all to the pitch, but to adjust the amplitude - But even this idea got a harsh reaction when I published on LevNet years ago (Up till then I had never seen anything similar, so am not sure if I invented this scheme).

In its simplest form, lets call the volume level set by the volume antenna, 0db.. And lets say On-Key-Emphasis (OKE) is set to -1db/cent, then when playing exactly on key, one would get the loudness set for the note by the volume antenna "0db" - for each 1 cent deviation, the volume would drop by 1db (-1db reletive to the volume "0db") until one got to 50 cents deviation (-50db) at which point one crosses towards the next nearest semitone, and the error reduces, and volume increases..

Making the cent <-> db ratio variable, one could have whatever profile one wanted - one could make the sound only audible when within 10 cents of a correct note, or have normal theremin operation - this means that vibrato and glide can be accomodated to whatever degree one wanted.. Adding one additional "baseline" control which sets a minimum level below the "0db" point, which sets minimum attenuation applied, in my view allows total control.

One reason I loved this idea is its simplicity - its easy to implement (extremely easy if one has a 1V/Octave output one can quantise) - A lot of the ideas I come up with are because I am basically quite stupid, particularly on maths and the like.. The idea of computing a pitch error and applying some kind of correction algorythm, well - its beyond me, to be blunt! ;-) .. I am just lucky that some of these stupid ideas actually work better than maths-intensive ones!

Fred.

Posted: 1/24/2014 9:25:50 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Chobbs, it is probable that pitch correction full on prevents vibrato entirely, at half on the vibrato heard would be half as wide as you were playing it.

I know that some desktop post-production autocorrection systems are smart about things like vibrato, but my guess is this will be something simpler, just pulling pitch towards the nearest acceptable note.

Posted: 1/24/2014 10:40:48 PM

From: Brooklyn

Joined: 8/15/2009

Speaking only for myself, the thing that could be interesting (specially if there's a foot switch for pitch correction) about the new "training wheels included" Jetsons model is using it on sections of music that are totally unplayable (not just challenging) on traditional theremins... I could picture doing pieces where I play traditionally and then when an actually impossible part comes up, using the new tech. This may open up a whole new repertoire... Or not

You know there's also the fact that while many people may use pitch correction to do what some of us are trying to do already, there may be areas where gifted players of the traditional theremin may be better at using the pitch correction factor than others less "experienced"... If we look at it like using pitch correction to do what we already do, well what's the point in that? We've all worked hard to get where we are with the theremin... But there may be things are still extremely difficult to do even while using the pitch correction... Virtuoso pitch corrected music might still be most challenging and difficult depending on what it is... So maybe its just another challenge (he thought hopefully...) Who knows, maybe if these things don't sound like utter shit, there may possibly be an upside as a plus to our musical expression...

I know... probably not but I'm just thinking

Posted: 1/24/2014 11:27:40 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"I know that some desktop post-production autocorrection systems are smart about things like vibrato, but my guess is this will be something simpler, just pulling pitch towards the nearest acceptable note." - GordonC

Must admit that I cannot get my head 'round pitch "correction" for the theremin - Your mini "thesis" on the matter encapsulates my problems.. As I see it, if intervals are "pulled" towards "correctness" - as in, between semitones, the field effectively becomes highly non-linear, then I can see this as potentially damaging to the process of learning to play the theremin.. If correction is "tight" then the problem of having some invisible (and inaudible) "switching point" is likely to be very real I think.

I also think there is perhaps a huge difference between DT Production autocorrelation and a live situation, even if the same degree of sophistication was incorporated in the instrument (which I doubt).

But at this time its all hot air.. Until people are playing the instrument and/or more flesh is put on the bones, its all speculation.. I dont want to say too much, just in case theyve "nicked" my OKE idea ;-)

Fred.

Posted: 1/25/2014 12:06:14 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Ha ha!  Just found this by googling "jetsons toaster":

Hey Fred, is this the one you designed for that Saudi Prince?

Posted: 1/25/2014 12:29:26 AM

From: Brooklyn

Joined: 8/15/2009

I wonder if many professional bread toasters were upset when a toaster with a timer came out...?

Ha ha!  Just found this by googling "jetsons toaster":

Hey Fred, is this the one you designed for that Saudi Prince?

Posted: 1/25/2014 1:18:50 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

THIS POST IS OFF TOPIC! < You have been warned! ;->

"Hey Fred, is this the one you designed for that Saudi Prince?" - Dewster

LOL ;-) No.. I never saw the mechanical design for that - it never proceeded far enough - All I know is that the commission for it included precious metals and jewels including substantial diamonds (there is a company in the UK who makes phones for the Saudi Royal Family and their employees - some of these phones are cast in silver, gold and platinum, cost >> 100k EACH, and have jewels for the buttons etc - in fact, I believe the company is a division of Nokia)

But thats a truly remarkable toaster! LOL ;-) ..Kind of makes me wonder ... Its a Left handed Theremini prototype!! - But it doesnt appeal to me as much as the Breville theremin, im not into toast, im into toasties! ;-)

Building anything frequency dependant into a toaster is something of a challenge - talk about thermal issues! LOL... I was looking at mil-spec arrays in order to create stable synthesis circuits, and the mechanical designer was looking at thermal insulation, in the hope that, together, we could achieve acceptable stability..

But the job was cancelled abruptly, we got (well) paid for the work we had done, and our agent got even more well paid for getting the contract then losing it...

And I will never know if it was real or some rich kids joke.. Either way, it was an education in crazyness and enhanced my sense that my life is some kind of bizarre comedy for the entertainment of someone / something quite strange.. and almost certainly cruel... but this "sense" fades, fortunately - leaving me thinking that its just a F**king crazy world we live in!

Fred.

"I wonder if many professional bread toasters were upset when a toaster with a timer came out...? " - Rshim

LOL ;-)

More relevant perhaps - were profesional toast makers upset?

They had good reason to be if they were, IMO.. Because toaster timers are crap! ;-)

(I spent about a year part-time working on toasters - evaluating all the high-end models, examining patents, then going into design of one with a complex electrostatic sensor which analysed the "emmissions" from the toast [water vapor, carbonised carbohydrates, hopefully never getting to smoke..] in order to get a perfect toaster.. Got paid for the work - it was abandoned because the only reliable sensor needed an americium source, which couldnt be integrated due to food safety and client concerns.. The same client commisioned the synthesiser toaster years later..)

Posted: 1/25/2014 1:57:49 AM

From: Rome (Italy)

Joined: 7/1/2012

Hi guys,

I'm agree with Fred thoughts and, at the same time, I understand Amey.

As I wrote to Gordon on facebook,

I'm watching on youtube some videos about Theremini @ NAMM. I think that pitch correction gives a different approach to the theremin as a controller. I see that if you use the full scale of the pitch button, it's like to have on a regular theremin an audio to Midi interface for playing synth instruments or virtual instruments ... I don't like it as a thereminist, because you'll hear the scale between each note as a "jump".

Some years ago I bought a little guitar to midi converter from Sonuus called "G2M" I used it with my Etherwave pro for fun playing everything from libraries on ableton or cubase...or virtual instruments. But, of course, I had the same result:a "jump" between notes of a scale. And it was fun, but it is not a sine wave. It is not like to play a real theremin.

But, but, the theremini as a controller seems to be great.

Anyway, If you want (as me) a "pure" SINE WAVE as a real theremin "sound", you simply have to switch off the pitch button.

The real thing to investigate better is about the quality of all the sounds "recorded" on the wave table (the software technology is the same of the animoog, ok)  but what about the choices of theremin-like sine-sounds built-in? ... Are those waves like theremin sound, instead of synth-like? And, last thing,  I don't see any button like the classical "waveform" and "brightness". In other words,  it seems that you can't change or modify a pre-built sound. The other features I think are good features...

Anyway we have to test it! :-)

(Sorry for my English language, guys!)

Posted: 1/25/2014 4:22:43 AM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Hello ErMan,

Its wrong to think that the only "true" theremin sound is a sine wave - its not! - RCA's and other theremins Lev built certainly dont produce anything like a sine output - lots of odd harmonics are present, quite a lot of even harmonics at times, "soft" pulse waveforms (rounded edges) in the bass registers.. A LOT more complex than most people think!

If anything (and I find this a bit ironic) modern theremins tend to have less harmonics than the "originals" - But we also need to keep in mind that modern amplifiers ans speakers reproduce higher harmonics than the old equipment did - so take an RCA output and play it through a modern amp / speaker, and you wont hear anything like what those who were listening to the instrument through its original amplifier / speaker heard.. It will sound harsh by comparison.

Exactly what a theremin "should" sound like, what a "theremin sound" "truly" is, well - that will depend on who you talk to!

And from this perspective, IF the theremini has an Animoog "engine", then it should be able to make most people happy - because this engine is capable of producing sines and ramps and squares and pulses, and applying whatever degree of filtering / tracking / morphing one could want to produce whatever sound you want - In theory anyway...

I have said all I want to say about pitch correction - At this time I have not viewed the demos.. My only interest in doing so would be to see what they are doing, but im in no hurry.. I sort of wish I hadnt got wound-up by what I first saw - my comments were reactive and probably silly.

When Bob was alive, he pushed the theremin in directions no one else dared  - He was wise and kept "scorned" technology he was using in his theremins "under wraps" - He was brave and risked directions that no-one else would have... And none of this harmed the image or status of the theremin - quite the contrary...

Perhaps I have been entirely wrong in my judgments - Perhaps Moog Music is just continuing this "bravery" - Perhaps for example the loop isnt as essential as thereminists think, perhaps in-built pitch correction will be of great benefit even to thereminists who dont need it... All I know with certainty is that I am not qualified to make the judgments I have made - I am not a skilled thereminist, all I have is my interpretation of what the handfull of skilled thereminists I know are saying or what I think they could / would be saying.... And they could all be "wrong" anyway!

Quite a lot of what appears to be in the theremini is extremely close to what I planned (and talked about here) for my theremin - Adjustable span, adjustable linearity*,  greater tone pallette, low latency, On-Key-Emphasis, were the  top items on my features list (well, I wasnt going to have On-Key-Emphasis on my basic theremin - that was to be fitted with the optional 1V/Octave board, because this board was needed to implement it)..

But I was going the "true theremin" route (this was to be the main feature) - And if im honest, the main reason for going this route was / is not so much because I believe in it (I am not sure - I want to believe in it, but I am not sure that heterodyning really adds anything special) , but because I dont have the guts to plonk a completely new theremin voicing system on the market without the theremin having at least one "genuine" adjustable theremin voice.

Moog have had the guts to do this - Once again, even in the absence of Bob, they are taking the risk. Ok - its a sane risk, and it commercially makes sense to pander to the larger market even if this alienates "traditional" theremin buyers - But whatever.. things are moving.

My surprise is that Moog made this move first - I have been expecting something like this for a long time, but not from Moog!

Worst is that I couldnt do my theremin for even close to the theremini target price.. Not so bad if competing against some unknown newcomer, but probably lethal if competing against Moog... There just arent enough "traditional" high-end theremin buyers to allow one to build exclusively for them - one needs the economy of scale - so one needs to produce an instrument which some non-traditionalists will buy.. And this is Moogs winning stratergy - they have targeted with their sights on the bigger market - and are willing to lose the smaller market if things pan out that way - I was targeting mainly the smaller market and hoping to sell a reasonable number to the larger market - but this latter group will now be better catered for by Moog, certainly on price..

Thankfully I have other instruments under development which are theremin related but not theremins, and arent threatened by anything that happens in the theremin world.. I saw this day coming, and perhaps the only sane business thing I have done was to devote most of my time recently to things other than an instrument with a "theremin" player interface..

Fred.

*Seems that perhaps the theremini doesnt implement adjustable linearity - in fact, there seems complete lack of data on its linearity or latency, which could be important factors with regard to its musical usability.

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