Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Theremin

The Theremin remains the ultimate in freaky, kooky instruments of all time! Nothing can imitate the spooky, spacey, bizarrely unusual, Halloween-esque voice of the theremin, one of the first electronic instruments ever made... using transistors & antennae it literally converts movement into sound, requiring its player to stand dead still & move only the hands ever so slightly to 'bend' the eerie notes...

When it first was invented, there were attempts to make it a marketable instrument for home use-- including songbooks and a release of albums like 'Music Out Of The Moon' and 'Perfume Set To Music' -- 'easy listening' style music composed by Les Baxter & Ray Anthony, which featured the theremin playing of Samuel J Hoffman, a world-famous Theremin virtuoso.

Check Amazon for the cd 'Waves in the Ether', the re-release of this early theremin music.

Two schools of thought on the Theremin.. that it can be beautiful & classical, such as the music of Clara Rockmore, or that it can be creepy & menacing, such as the groundbreaking soundtrack to the Day The Earth Stood Still-- both of which can still be purchased, see the links to buy them at Amazon.

I love the sound of the theremin.. but, as its not ever likely that I'll ever afford one, or have the time to learn to play one, I've had to fake it.

There's a freeware VSTi plug-in, for you music software users, that simulates some of the creepier elements of the theremin, called the 'Spook Keys' (click to download) -- as well as a lost program from the BBC, a desktop theremin that you play with your mouse-- click here for what is probably the LAST place to get it online!

Here now are a few tunes played on a real theremin, which were given away free from this site:

There are lots of songs of different styles there... I suggest you visit this cool site, and peruse their library yourself. For the Countdown, I pulled out just the ones that seemed to be the best Halloween-style tracks & put them together into a Zip file:

1. Freddie & the Hitchhikers - Sinners
2. Madam Absolut - Bruit Electronique
3. Roger Ballenger - oooOOOooo
4. Samuel J. Hoffman - Moonlight Sonata
5. Samuel J. Hoffman - So Attracted To You

6. Scott Marshall - Ghost Sonata

7. Ted Matson - Out

8. Welcome - Eviltech

Click to download ThereminVox Songs For Halloween

Bonus: In the early days of my electronic composing, I created this wacky, Halloween-related tune with a sample from the 'Rheem Kee Bass' and the aformentioned BBC Virtual Theremin.
Click here for 'That Was No Martian' in mp3, 192 kbps.

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