Moog Theremini Theremin

Kovalsky System Theremin, facsimile?

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Posted: 2/19/2013 2:27:11 PM
coalport
From: Canada
Joined: 8/1/2008

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Above: I not being a musician and never working in electronics gives me a different type of freedom. I have no restraints as I have no knowledge to influence my thinking so it must start off practical.

 

The fatal flaw (Catch-22) in this kind of thinking is that someone with no experience has no way of knowing how his innovations, which may seem so logical and practical to a newcomer, are going to hinder his progress as he rises to the more advanced and more demanding levels of performance of which he knows nothing.

I have seen this time and time again with the theremin. Noobs proudly declaring that they are going to devise their own methods and techniques that are right for them: "I'm just going to watch what all the good thereminists do, absorb everything, then keep what works for me and reject the rest."

This would be unthinkable in the context of a traditional instrument, but it happens with the theremin all the time. The real problem here is not the that person does not know. On the contrary, the person is convinced he does know!

An approach to the instrument that will get you very nicely through your introductory period (your first few weeks) may stop you cold later on, and just to complicate matters further you are unlikely to understand why. 

Believe me, ignorance is NEVER an advantage.

Posted: 2/20/2013 8:23:09 AM
FredM
From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. Fundamental Designs Ltd. ................................... 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

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"Believe me, ignorance is NEVER an advantage." - Coalport

Not too sure about that, Peter.. If you are happy being an ignorant whatever, if you proudly declare how humble you are, and you are so stupid that losing your ignorance probably wouldnt make any difference anyway, and if you are so thick skinned and narscistic that you dont notice / care what others think or how they react when you spout ignorant waffle or behave like a bear with a bee up its bum..

Well, then ignorance could be an advantage !? - or at least not a great disadvantage. ;-)

Posted: 2/20/2013 11:06:30 AM
coalport
From: Canada
Joined: 8/1/2008

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RS Theremin wrote: Here in California we have brown bears. Growing up on the “Rez” reservation you learn as a child that if you walk into the “Stare of a Bear” you have three choices: Stand tall with a puffed up chest, Run or Play dead…one of these is illogical but intellectualizing the other may get you into trouble.

 

Two sports hunters were being interviewed on the radio and the host of the show asked them what the most frightening thing was that had ever happened to them.

"Oh, that would be the time we came face to face with a very angry Alaskan grizzly bear." said one hunter.

"My God! What did you do?" asked the interviewer.

"I ran as fast as I could!" said the hunter.

"But surely you know there is no way you can outrun a grizzly bear." said the host.

"Oh, I didn't have to outrun the bear. I just had to outrun him!" said the hunter pointing to his fellow sportsman.

Posted: 2/20/2013 10:16:31 PM
nieradka
From: portland
Joined: 11/30/2011

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RStheremin said:

Edit: One effect that is simple enough to implement would be to fade in more reverb the higher up you are playing on the pitch antenna. Have none near the bottom where the second volume control is muting it. This allows for normal play if you choose.

You pass a portion of the pitch to a reverb unit then send it through a second volume control's variable resistor which is mounted below your pitch arm. Send the two separate channels through a passive mixer to get the right balance for the effect and then send the finale mix to the main independent theremin volume control with loop. This is one of the reasons I use a modular approach, it allows possibilities. You could forget the antenna and use your body positions near the second volume control.

Correct me if im wrong, but I dont think that would be a good idea. Reverb generally goes at the end of an effect chain. And time based effects like delay or reverb, shouldnt be directly effected by the volume loop. Or when you drop the volume hand, the echo will suddenly stop abruptly and unnaturally.  

Also in general, it would require a change in playing style for many people. If you play low notes near your shoulder/chest, and now have to figure out fingering by the stomach, and keep the same distance from the pitch antenna, its not like I stand square to the antenna -- the theremin is complicated enough to play as it is.  Also vibrato techniques would also change not just the pitch, but the amount of reverb or other effect. Which would be strange. 

Posted: 2/20/2013 11:46:50 PM
nieradka
From: portland
Joined: 11/30/2011

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Well, physically I think foot pedal (or foot proximity) control makes the most sense ergonomically If the goal is to change the level of an effect, well that can already be done many times with a footpedal for gradation, or just with a stompswitch if off/on is all that is requires.

Effects that I think would be useful to be effected by the primary volume control, i.e. put in a effect loop, would primarily be those that effect the main waveform/timbre, distortion/fuzz and the like. Time based or modulation effects like delay, chorus, reverb, I think should come after. Envelope or other filter effects (like the talking machine) Im not so sure. Perhaps gordon could speak more to this as his theremin has a effects loop and he uses a lot of effects in his work. 

Offhand, I cant see a reason to change the volume loop response in the middle of the song. I usually set it and forget to the same setting for everything. 

Having a third field of control would be interesting, but offhand, im not sure what for. Or weather it would be feasible to play. Remember the terpitsone was an interesting example of what was possible with motion control, but no one could play it. 

Posted: 2/21/2013 1:20:39 AM
FredM
From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. Fundamental Designs Ltd. ................................... 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

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" Remember the terpitsone was an interesting example of what was possible with motion control, but no one could play it. " - nieradka

I agree.. Lovely idea being able to use your legs and feet and arms to control aspects of the instrument, but not many, if any, humans would be able to play it.

Here again I think it comes down to what kind of "music" you are making.. I think that if one is trying to play tunes or music where pitch is important / critical, then one has ones hads full just managing to keep pitch and control volume dynamics.

however - If one is creating "soundscapes" with multiple "components" such as waveshape and filter frequencies and perhaps noise and effects, then the freedom from having to worry about staying precisely "on pitch" allows one to perhaps use multiple controls simulatneously.

I think that the Kovalski theremin probably never introduced much (if any) extra complexity - For me, the volume antenna is difficult to use in combination with maintaining pitch.. Perhaps for people like me, having one "tactile" interface rather than two "space field" interfaces, would be easier - I certainly find "ribbon type" pitch and short range "tactile" volume sensors much easier.

Fred.

Posted: 2/21/2013 3:35:23 PM
GordonC
From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK
Joined: 10/5/2005

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Re: ignorance - a clean sheet is a good starting point - no preconceptions - but not a good way to continue - that's just floundering around in the dark. As Clara pointed out (I paraphrase) you should know where you want to go. In this instance this means having a design vocabulary - a way of thinking about the problem. For an instrument for a classical musician the design vocabulary is the vocabulary of classical music - think in terms such as legato/staccato crescendo/diminuendo et cetera. For me, my design vocabulary comes from electronic music, so I think about modulation and envelope shaping and so on.

---

Re: effects loop. I got my effects loop primarily for practical reasons - to increase the range of effects pedals available to me. Some have a noise gate - they cut off when the volume drops below a certain level - not good for theremins. Others produce hiss when the volume is too low - also not good. These pedals go in the effects loop so that they get a constant loud input and the volume circuit of the theremin will mute any hiss. It also means I can use either the theremin oscillator circuit or the volume circuit independently - as either a pitch-only theremin or as a volume control for another electronic instrument.

As Nieradka correctly supposes, the effects loop is best for waveform shaping pedals, not so good for delay based effects and envelope triggered effects.

--- 

Re: playing with other parts of your body. Well, you could use your backside, I suppose. It might be appealing to watch certain thereminists rhythmically wiggling their bottoms, but not me! Mine would be better employed occupying a Penn and Teller Spirit Chair.

http://web.media.mit.edu/~joep/TTT.BO/chair.html

 

Posted: 2/21/2013 5:32:29 PM
coalport
From: Canada
Joined: 8/1/2008

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" Remember the terpitsone was an interesting example of what was possible with motion control, but no one could play it. " - nieradka

"Professor Termen asked me to demonstrate the terpsitone on stage at Carnegie Hall because the dancers could not play the theremin and the thereminists couldn't dance."
 
 
One of the things that has always hampered thereminists is the need to provide accompaniment for a performance. The introduction of the looper device a few years ago made the theremin a bit more independent but after a while the woo-woo-woo and wah-wah-wah loops all started to sound a bit the same and thereminists seemed to back off them a bit.
 
At least, that's my impression. Mercifully, we see less of loopers now than we did when they were first introduced. The same sort of thing seems to have happened with the TALKING MACHINE. Once everybody had one the bloom quickly left the sonic roses.
 
MIDI trigger devices like the ROLAND PK-5 can open up all sorts of musical doors for those who are interested in experimenting with them. They do, however, require that one be fairly adept at footwork, and a trigger can never be any more effective than the equipment it is triggering. A decent MIDI rack is going to set you back more money than your theremin.
 
http://www.rolandus.com/products/details/301
 
The other thing is, in order to free your feet for the task of pedal control you are going to have to play seated, and you will have to be using one of the smaller theremin units and not a large lectern style cabinet model. 
 
If you know the keyboard, understand harmony, and are familiar with the possibilities of pitch shifting, there is a great deal you can do with a PK-5. Highly complex chords are possible and easy to play with only yer two tootsies! No, you are never going to be able to play the keyboard part of THE SWAN with your feet, but there is a great deal that you will be able to do, and the more you experiment the more you will discover.
 
Precision thereminists are going to have a far greater challenge than the avant garde, experimental and FX crowd but, as Clara Rockmore pointed out, "Whoever said it was EASY? It's NOT easy!"
Posted: 2/22/2013 10:33:23 PM
RoyP
From: Scotland
Joined: 9/27/2012

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On the subject of playing the theremin with parts of the body other than the hands: Alison Goldfrapp famously played one with a most unconventional part of her anatomy...

http://m.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/feb/22/popandrock.shopping

 

Posted: 2/23/2013 12:54:27 AM
GordonC
From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK
Joined: 10/5/2005

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When visiting Florida, a waitress asked us if we would like her to put ice cream on our cobblers.

To an English person, this is a very funny thing to say!

 

 

 

(Hint - look for the rhyming slang definition.)

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