Why Devo didn't have a theremin

Posted: 1/30/2015 5:35:23 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Mostly this is for Fred's benefit. 48 seconds into the video...


Posted: 1/31/2015 6:05:17 AM

From: Georgia, USA

Joined: 1/26/2015

Thank you. That was a great interview video. 

Posted: 1/31/2015 4:32:08 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

From the video: "Six months later I call him and say "Hey Bob, where's the Theremin?" and he says "Ugh, it's more complicated than I thought."  So I started calling him every month, I'd keep thinking "How come it's not here yet?" because I really wanted it.  And finally after about a year and a half I called him and he says "Mark, stop calling me I'm going to send you something."  So he sent me his own personal Memory Moog..."

This sounds familiar somehow...

FredM will undoubtedly enjoy the presence of PAiA! ;-)

The "nimbus quake orbit" thing around 0:35 is a hymnotron:

Posted: 1/31/2015 9:26:41 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

The Dewanotron Hymnotron is a great example of an instrument conceived and built by a technician/engineer who undoubtedly loves music but hasn’t consulted a musician. Consequently, the instrument has all the sensitivity of a buzzsaw! The keys seem to be nothing but ON/OFF switches and from what I heard they cannot sculpt or “shape” the sound. 


Everything was at the same volume level!



Hey…Robbie The Robot’s gonna love this thing.

Posted: 1/31/2015 10:05:58 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

But it has a killer name!  ;-)

I think the Hymnotron would benefit from some updating / downsizing / ergonomic touches, etc.  I'd make it so you could hold it and play it, likely sans foot pedals. 

I realize we're in the middle of an analog renaissance, so saying this borders on heresy, but it seems the Hymnotron has too many knobs that are awkward to adjust.  The designer/builder himself looks like he's fumbling around a little.  I wish synth hackers in general had more DSP knowledge.  The retro approach yields remarkable results for minimal hardware, but it isn't always the best path to a solution IMO.  E.g. even a low end FPGA can generate thousands of sine waves mixed to SPDIF with ADSR and filtering to boot.

[EDIT] I don't mean to disparage nor minimize the thought that went into the Hymnotron, I think a many folded sine wave is actually pretty ingenious.  God knows, anything that comes out of NAMM is basically corporately brain dead, it's nice to see new ideas being implemented.

Posted: 2/1/2015 11:54:59 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I can't ink of many acoustic instruments with a fixed volume, but the hurdy gurdy springs to mind. Fixed volume instruments have their place.

My preference would be to equip the hymenotron with a theremin style volume sensor for maximum expressiveness.

Posted: 2/1/2015 2:28:45 PM

From: züriCH

Joined: 3/15/2014

the dewan cousins made other cool instruments, like the swarmatron. but that counts mostly on reznors works with it. as i heard, a hymenatron could be a bit painful the first time.

Edit: watch the dewans talk their stuff.  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aHdxOKmoozg. (funny that moozg url-ending:-) ) 

Posted: 2/1/2015 3:31:30 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

I maybe would have called it the "hymnotizer".  And maybe used sliders instead of knobs for faster manual global edits (even though I hate sliders).

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