The Theramin, an electronic instrument, is played without any physical contact!

The Theramin, an electronic instrument, is played without any physical contact! Invented in 1920 by Russian physicist Leon Theramin, it uses two metal antennas to sense the movement of the player’s hands in the air and control oscillators for pitch and volume. It evolved from Russian government sponsored research into motion detectors and was said to have greatly impressed Lenin. Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, credits his years studying the theramin as his inspiration.

The theramin produces an eerie sound used to effect in movie tracks and by psychedelic rock bands. Watch this strange, hands-off performance by Celia Sheen…she really is playing an instrument!

Sadly, Celia Sheen, an accomplished professional violinist, passed away last month.

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10 Responses to The Theramin, an electronic instrument, is played without any physical contact!

  1. David Baker says:

    There was a great documentary in 1994: Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey.

    Leon Theremin intended it to be a classical instrument, not a sci-fi trope.

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    The theremin was used in classical performances in the 20’s and 30’s, but starting in the 50’s began to be associated with sci fi was also used by the Beach Boys in Good Vibrations in the 60’s. The story of the man himself, and his link to Russian espionage is fascinating. I should put that documentary on my rental list, thanks David Baker !

  3. It’s a fascinating documentary, and instant on Netflix!

  4. Joan Hogol says:

    Theremin tried to create an instrument with a sound between cello and human voice.

    Here you can see a few more theremin videos…

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    José P. Llongueras , it may be instant on Netflix but will have to wait until I get through that Must Do list you know all about! Hogol Lenimar i Keskener , thanks for the link..the Sting cover was lovely.

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Christopher Jones , I very much agree, thanks!

  7. of course she was a violinist.  i liked that very much.  it was at once haunting and beautiful.  leon theramin was a cellist.  the theramin is cello like in it’s mimicry of the human voice.  i want a theramin but i am afraid that like bagpipes and marshall stacks cranked to ten after a certain hour… they are lease breakers

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    Do let us know if you ever acquire one, Robert Blahut . We’ll put in a good word with your landlord for you 🙂

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