Creating a theremin sample set

Posted: 10/8/2014 12:53:55 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014


Congrats! Major achievement. I can't wait to get it (I saw your "teaser"). I think a thread on your experience would be really instructive. What you had to do get the sound the way you wanted it. What had to be done to the sound. You are leading the way here for a lot of us. Personally I really want to know how you get such a nice sound - both the theremin and piano. They don't come out of the box that way!

I need all the tips I can get.


Posted: 10/8/2014 1:21:14 AM

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

Joined: 12/17/2010


Because my pianist friend and I wanted to be in the same room when we recorded these improvs, we had to Mic his piano and we lined-in the theremin right into his mixer. Mind you, I have been working with Doug for almost a decade, we are amazingly tuned into our creative space, the songs just poured easily! After we were done recording, we both noticed that the sound of the theremin was very dry and could need some sparkling. We EQ's the theremin a lot, we looked into the visualizer and trimmed the low frequencies, we adjusted dynamics (like tuning up parts that needed it and turned down the ones that might be too dominant). For the reverb, we used Altiverb (from Audio Ease ) and found the perfect reverb for each and every single song. It took a long time to craft this sound ~ even longer than playing the songs :)

We really wanted to create a space where the piano and the theremin were having a dialogue ~ preserving the nature of each instrument by allowing them to have their own space. There was more reverb added to the theremin in the post production phase than the piano since it was mic'd and already benefited of the natural reverb from the room itself...



Posted: 10/8/2014 3:18:17 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014


Thanks. Very useful information. Can't wait to hear the finished product. 


Posted: 10/8/2014 4:30:57 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Getting back to the "the theremin is difficult" theme...

It occurs to me that I ne significant difference between the theremin and the voice or the violin is that it is pretty much exclusively a lead instrument - no opportunity to spend a few years in the theremin chorus learning your craft - the first time you play live, you're centre stage and all eyes and ears are on you. 

Posted: 10/8/2014 10:32:00 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014


And this is coupled with Peter's salient comment that people often perform to soon and get away with it because the public in general has no idea "what good is" here and can also be swayed by the novelty of the instrument. I really liked that observation.

But divorced from craft, public performance also has another issue - Nerves!

I can think of few venues that would be more affected by a nervous player than a theremin performance. One reason I have no desire to get in front of the public.

Besides craft, I think you need a special steel-reinforced mindset as well to be a performing thereminist.



Posted: 10/18/2014 12:03:46 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

rkram: "....I can think of few venues that would be more affected by a nervous player than a theremin performance. One reason I have no desire to get in front of the public."



The theremin, unlike traditional instruments, is transparent. There is no mechanism, ivory, ebony, wood or brass, catgut or steel, between YOU and your listeners. No matter how prepared you think you are, when you get up in front of an audience to play your theremin, you will only be able to perform half as well as you did in those endless practice sessions in your living room. 


Eventually, you will come to learn that with the theremin Murphy's Law is inescapable. Anything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong, in spite of all your precautions and careful setting up. You can count on it!


To succeed with the theremin you must detach yourself completely, in an almost Zen-like fashion, from the lust of result. 


Abandon abandonment!  ☺





Posted: 1/5/2015 9:12:58 AM

Joined: 1/5/2015

It would be hard for me to know exactly what sound I'd like to have on my theremins.




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