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(thĕr`əmən), one of the earliest electronic musical instruments, invented (1920) in the Soviet Union and named for its creator, Leon ThereminTheremin, Leon
, 1896–1993, Russian engineer and inventor, b. St. Petersburg as Lev Sergeyevich Termen. He studied and worked in his native city, attending its university and conservatory and directing a lab at one of its technical institutes, where he invented the
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. A forerunner of the synthesizer, it consists of a wooden box fitted with two radio-frequency oscillators and two metal antennas, a vertical rod on the instrument's right and a horizontal ring on its left. The player moves the hands in the air around the antennas without touching them, creating changes the antennas' electromagnetic fields. The right hand controls the pitch, the left hand, the volume. The sine-wave tones that are produced are then amplified and fed into a loudspeaker.

The theremin's sound has been described as like that of a violin but more spooky and otherworldly. While some classical composers have written for the instrument, e.g., Henry CowellCowell, Henry Dixon
, 1897–1965, American composer and pianist, b. Menlo Park, Calif., largely self-educated, studied musicology in Berlin (1931–32). Cowell experimented with new musical resources; in his piano compositions he introduced the tone cluster, played with
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 and Edgard VarèseVarèse, Edgard
, 1883–1965, French-American composer. In Paris he first studied mathematics and science but became more interested in music. He then studied composition with Roussel and D'Indy at the Schola Cantorum and with Widor at the Conservatory.
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, it has been used more frequently in film soundtracks—where its eerie, swooping tones can create an atmosphere of unease or strangeness—and by such rock groups as The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, and Radiohead.


See S. M. Martin, dir., Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (DVD, 1995, rereleased 2001).



(etherophone), an electrophonic musical instrument, invented in 1921 by the Soviet engineer L. S. Termen. In order to produce a musical tone, the theremin makes use of audio-frequency electrical oscillations produced by a vacuum-tube generator; the oscillations are amplified and then converted into sound by a loudspeaker. An upright, metal rod attached to a metal arc is used to change the frequency and amplitude of the oscillations generated (the pitch and loudness of the sound); the rod and arc serve as the generator’s oscillatory system. The performer controls the theremin by changing the position of the palms of his hands: the hand near the rod controls the pitch, and the hand near the arc controls loudness. The theremin can be made to sound like a violin, cello, flute, or other musical instrument; the timbre of the sound is determined by the operating mode of the generator.

References in periodicals archive ?
Electric signals are then sent from the theremin, where they are amplified via a loudspeaker.
The theremin has been used very effectively in science-fiction films--most notably, perhaps, in Bernard Hermann's otherworldly score for "The Day the Earth Stood Still.
In conjunction with the festival, he also taught computer workshops at the Theremin Center.
Accordingly, it seems no coincidence that Sontag begins her discussion with films made in 1950, the same year that the creepy glissandos of the theremin first appeared in a science fiction film: Ferde Grofe's soundtrack for Kurt Neumann's Rocketship X-M, a film that chronicles a Moon landing gone awry and Mars-ward, complete with aggressive Martian natives and some nail-biting last-minute equipment failures.
Melding hip-hop, funk, and jazz, augmented by oddball timbres like sitar and theremin, Sean Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra shakes the dust off the tinsel with A Very Ping Pong Christmas.
The second is the series of devices invented in the early 1900s by a Russian engineer, Lev Sergeivitch Theremin.
I have done a number of TV spots, including one for Verizon where I was hired to replace a synthesized theremin.
The Young Marble Giants song "Final Day" could serve as Minor Angels's soundtrack: a single sci-fi theremin note hovers over a quavering organ, muted, downpicked guitar, and a plain but lovely female voice that sings about the final day, the world lighting up for the last time only to fall into endless night "for the people who never had a say.
Back in the 1920s, the Russian inventor Leon Theremin created one of the first electronic musical instruments, and it was based on electric field sensing.
The Classic/Contemporary/Techno package will feature lush oratorios, masses and passions, featuring synthesizer, theremin, and modified xylophone.
Not me, so - cymbals, please, and a few spooky ripples of the theremin - here's my New Year's list of the top 10 trends shaping the Sarasota of tomorrow.
Billed by Say's record company as an album that "brings together experimental elements and various [musical] disciplines," "Yeni E[currency]arkylar" features a diverse mix of performers accompanying Say in the songs, including violinist Cihat AE-kyn, theremin player Carolina Eyck, harpist Ecay-atay Akyol, percussionist Aykut KE[micro]selerli and ney player Burcu Karaday-, among many others.