A great piece about the theremin
Today is the 105th birthday of Clara Rockmore (1911-1988), a woman you’ve probably never heard of. But she was the greatest virtuoso of the theremin, that weird musical instrument patented by Russian Léon Theremin in 1928 (Rockmore and he were friends). Over the years, the instrument became largely a novelty and fell into disuse—remember hearing it on the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”?—but was revived in 1993 by a prize-winning documentary movie. It’s still used, in a fancier electronic version, by modern musicians.
Below is a video of La Rockmore in her later years, playing the “The Swan” by Saint Saëns, from “Carnival of the Animals”. The vertical antenna controls the pitch, while the horizontal one controls the volume. Is there any other instrument that can be played without being touched? Today’s Torygraph has a really nice article on Rockmore, the theramin, and the Doodle.
There are many videos and audio clips of Clara…
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