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Fun with a Theremin

Leon Theremin playing the Theremin

Leon Theremin playing the Theremin

I know what you are thinking: everyone already loves a Theremin so what is the point of this post? Well sadly, you’re wrong you poor deluded fool. It turns out that some people don’t even know what a theremin is! In case you are part of the latter crowd, look to the left. That is Leon Theremin playing his Theremin. Bizarrely the similarity in names was a coincidence. (That was a joke – he patented his invention in 1928.)

I love theremins but perhaps that is because I am a bit of a geek and geeks seem to have been exposed to the sounds of theremins more than other mere humans. Theremins can be heard in The Day the Earth Stood Still (original), Ed Wood, The Thing (from another world), The Big Bang Theory, and so on. Funnily enough they are most famous for providing the theme tunes to original Doctor Who and original Star Trek. Neither is actually true but they do sound pretty fantastic on a theremin as this video clearly demonstrates with the Doctor Who theme:

In popular music, Theremins have been used by a ton of musicians including: Hawkwind, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin, (to name but three examples of personal favourites). Plus this guy playing Radiohead:

They have been used in classical music too, although that seems pretty rare. There have been a few professional devotees though, such as Clara Rockmore. Here she is playing Tchaikovsky and it’s rather pleasant:


In case you are bored at work which, let’s face it, is likely given that you have read this far, I give you (drumroll…) – a desktop Theremin! Well actually, I don’t, but here is a link to one thanks to the good people at www.femurdesign.com:


Literally minutes of fun as you try and play the theme tune to original Star Trek, then a bit of Doctor Who, then… er… back to the web probably. I thought it was pretty fun for a few minutes and thought you might too. Who knows? Maybe this post will spark off a renewed interest Theremin playing. It’s unlikely but I bloody hope so.

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