Talk:Theremin

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Theremin:
  • Expand the "How it Works" to be more useful
  • Expand section on Moog in "History"
  • Add "Tin Hat Quartet" band to "The theremin in use", song is called "Tin Hat Trio - O.N.E.O."
  • Settle apparent Ondes Martenot/Loulie Jean Norman Star Trek contradictions
  • Add Lucie Rosen as early thereminist and financial supporter of Leon, related Caramoor history
  • Describe Theremin's connections and work with KGB using tuned circuits, etc
  • Add under Popular Music that Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue used this instrument during his bass solo on the Carnival of Sins DVD and during live shows of the same name

Sound example[edit]

Can someone upload a 30 second .ogg file of what a theremin sounds like? I think that would be a neat addition to the article. –Kerαunoςcopiagalaxies 05:06, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Actually, now I see the {{reqmusic}} template was added. Well, count me as one more person supporting this. – Kerαunoςcopiagalaxies 05:09, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
There's some audio files in .ogg format at commons:Category:Theremin. -- œ 00:42, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I added one example to the article, placed underneath the infobox. You may choose a different example if you want. -- œ 01:11, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
A legato piece would be more characteristic, anyway. -- megA (talk) 20:39, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

List of bands using theremin[edit]

Is it time to split the tiresome lists of nobodies off into their own article? That would at least keep this article cleaner and limited to vaguely interesting content. As it is, we get a continual stream of bands who have bought themselves a theremin (that means nothing, I've built a couple myself) and if they've met some minor notability criteria it's impossible to eradicate them - despite the fact that their existence and use of it adds nothing to a general article on the instrument. Andy Dingley (talk) 11:28, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

I don't see any list of bands in the article to be split off.. the only thing that could use splitting off is the Television, Books, and Video games sections, which rather would go under the title Theremin use in popular culture. The other sections are woven quite well into the article and are indeed interesting to read. -- œ 02:32, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Are you looking at the right article? It's the article entitled 'Theremin' you should be looking at, where there is a list of bands and performers using the theremin. Almost all of the list and the information within is unsourced or badly sourced and various IPs regularly try to add more unsourced information to it. The question is whether this list would be better off somewhere else or just having the unsourced material removed. Weakopedia (talk) 05:57, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes I'm looking at the right article. Theremin#Pop_music is the only list of bands I see, and I agree that that section can be split off, there's not much there anyway. "Concert music" and "Film music" should stay and IMO it complements the article well.. they just need to be trimmed down a bit. The last three, "Television", "Books", and "Video games" can also be split off, but those are not "bands". -- œ 11:46, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
My apologies, I was a little rude. I think that many of the examples of theremins being used are unsourced and should be trimmed, but regardless I think that there are potentially enough examples to have a separate article covering the use of the theremin in music. I don't know if it is necessary to narrow that article to the pop perspective as that has been the least populated category here in the main article. The concert and film sections are quite vague, I don't see it necessary to have separate articles for all, especially while so many remain unsourced.
I think that to prevent this article becoming an ever expanding list of bands or concerts that the section should be rewritten with the most prominent examples, pop film and concert, and the rest moved to a new page titled appropriately. Then the main list here in the Theremin article could remain unchanged unless a more prominent example superceded one of them.
Part of the problem is that these are just lists without any context to show what the overall importance to each of these branches of music the Theremin is, but I think that putting a limit on the amount of examples to include here is best for this article, whilst allowing for a second more versatile list on another page. Maybe that page could be called something like Use of the Theremin in Music and have a short introduction to give it an identity. Weakopedia (talk) 12:51, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
That sounds like it would be the best idea. I have no objection. -- œ 23:43, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
The list of bands is mostly deleted, because every week someone adds yet another marginally notable band who have no notable connection with the theremin, then someone else has to clean up afterwards. They're not there today, but their traces are still in the history.
As there seems no likelihood of stopping this happening in the future, then a small improvement might be to give these bynotes somewhere better to be kept, and keep the main article more useful. Andy Dingley (talk) 22:02, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
As a reader, I support any effort that can improve all the sections under "Uses". I do sometimes remove uncited claims, mainly from Pop music, but I just looked at Concert music and found the amazon cite only supports one single composer and not the lengthy list claimed: Anis Fuleihan. I am now sorely tempted to remove every single uncited claim in all the sections. It may be that the presence of the partly-uncited "laundry list" is misleading editors into the belief that this is standard practice in wikipedia. -84user (talk) 09:38, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
84user, all composers can be found on Lydia Kavina's CDs ("Music from the Ether", "Spellbound", and "Touch! Don't Touch!"), except for Edgar Varèse, who actually used Theremincellos for "Ecuatorial". It was me, btw, who gave the Fuleihan reference, since IIRC someone explicitly requested one for him. -- megA (talk) 10:32, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for those CD titles, I've now added cites for most of the composers. -84user (talk) 14:15, 16 April 2010 (UTC)
If you want to complete the list (although I personally hate it when there is a citation every second word (maybe refs should be given at the end of the paragraph?), Shostakovitch wrote two film scores, "Odna" and something like "The sisters" employing the theremin. The 1931 "Odna" score was the first to use the theremin. (this is already covered in the Film section.) Charles Ives added an "ether organ" part in the last movement of his fourth symphony in later years and ti seems he meant a theremin. (That's very vague, sorry, but I'm sure the answer is somewhere out there... there's a link on JSTOR I can't access: [hppt://www.jstor.org/stable/741125] ) -- megA (talk)
I aim to start a new page for the musical applications, just that takes a little research to see if I can find the sources to make it an article or a list. The aim is that any examples on this article have good sources, so if you want to remove any unsourced examples go ahead, but please move the uncited information here rather than delete it and I will try to find a source for it for addition to the list page, if that is possible. Thanks for your interest! Weakopedia (talk) 09:52, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

I am brand new here so please be gentle... Not sure if this is even the correct spot for this sort of thing but here goes. A modern Theremin can be seen being played/used on the Simon & Garfunkel,Old Friends Live on Stage DVD (Circa 2006) It is can be seen being played on the S&G song: "The Boxer" (Gtroxl (talk) 18:55, 4 July 2010 (UTC)) --Gtroxl (talk) 18:55, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I figured I'd mention it here instead of directly editing, so someone else can follow whatever procedures are prefered for edition, but Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria has played a theremin in concert before, both traditionally (with his hands) and with his hair. Which is pretty unique. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.95.49.147 (talk) 15:59, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there are people out there who play the piano with their feet or other body parts. This alone doesn't make it notable. -- megA (talk) 16:07, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Lucy Bigelow Rosen[edit]

Could someone with access to relevant sources (I.e. Glinsky's book, for example) write a few sentences about Lucy Rosen? If not her playing, her relentless contribution to popularizing the instrument in the 1920s and afterwards and her financial support for Leon Theremin and his instrument have been invaluable. Unfortunately, I don't have the Glinsky book. -- megA (talk) 19:00, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Not being rude, but do you have access to a nearby library? You seem to know something about this topic, how about doing some research? --Monotonehell 10:09, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
Rudeness doesn't translate well over here, so no problem. ;-) As I said, I don't have access to the Glinsky book. I just know what I've learnt on theremin newsgroups etc, which might be no more than hearsay. Without proper sources, anything I'd write would face removal... -- megA (talk) 14:59, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

I do not have the book either, but I started Lucie Bigelow Rosen as a sub-stub and dumped Google snippets in the talk page (I suppose you have seen them already, but just in case). On the Gigolette - Elliot Lawrence YouTube recording Peter Pringle (copperleaves) wrote something implying he might be a good source. -84user (talk) 17:16, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

That's a good start. I was actually thinking more of a short paragraph in the theremin article. I don't know if she's notable enough for her own article. I was hoping someone might have printed/published information about her... -- megA (talk) 14:59, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

I added a sentence using two sources: Glinsky book preview and thereminvox. Other sources exist but they might be too bloggy or fancrufty for wikipedia. -84user (talk) 20:16, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Theremin guitar hero[edit]

Found this and thought it would be a good addition to the video games section of the article, but will let someone more knowledgeable decide and make the write up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBhOB7CfUoY —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.84.180.8 (talk) 12:43, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

John Otway mention?[edit]

Protopunk legend John Otway has used a Theremin in his songs, most famously Bunsen Burner, ever since he acquired one. Should I include him as a mention under the 'Popular music' section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sheled Umlal (talkcontribs) 21:54, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

No. -- megA (talk) 22:11, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Captain Nemo and the Underwater City[edit]

I think the character Mala plays a theremin in this movie. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.210.200.206 (talk) 15:51, 28 August 2010 (UTC)


"Some thereminists in the avant-garde openly rebel against developing any formalized technique, viewing it as imposing traditional limitations on an instrument that is inherently free form. These players choose to develop their own highly personalized techniques. Other avant-garde players use strict form and techniques other than aerial fingering. The question of the relative value of formal technique versus free form performances were hotly debated among thereminists."

This is nonsense. As for the debate, there is no debate. That is not permitted in the forums due to the hostility and condescension from "aerial fingering" proponents who call themsleves "precision" thereminsts and who most certainly are not "precision" thereminsts due to the use of vibrato to conceal inaccurate intonation. This is an attempt to label avant garde players as not having a formal technique which is incorrect. Most avant garde players do use "aerial fingering" techinques. I added "Other avant-garde players use strict form and techniques other than aerial fingering." to clarify this but I think this whole paragraph needs to be removed. The sentence referring to Mr. Ptak should be placed elsewhere. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 160.253.0.7 (talk) 16:39, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Does the Star Trek theme really use a theramin?[edit]

The page makes this claim "The theremin was used for Alexander Courage's theme for the original Star Trek TV series" based solely on this comment "Gene had one [theramin] play the theme for Star Trek" in the page at http://www.retrothing.com/2006/06/theremin_ghostl.html/. Based on the comments made by Alexander Courage in the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oppn9BT6XM, I believe that the sound heard in the theme song is a woman's voice, not a theramin. (I saw a recent "Big Bang Theory" episode which sort of made this claim also, and wanted to determine the veracity.) Would someone with more "Courage" than me please double-check and fix it if necessary? (This may be more complex -- there may be multiple versions about.) Ccady (talk) 17:16, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

To the best of my knowledge, the first season of Trek used an ondes martenot for the theme, the second and third seasons used a woman's voice.THD3 (talk) 01:13, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
The first season doen't use an ondes either, it's just the French horns and 'celli that carry the theme. Here's the first season theme: (Youtube) The soprano who actually sung the theme later was Loulie Jean Norman. Neither an ondes nor a theremin were ever used for the Star Trek theme, despite its popularity amongst theremin players. Corrected and added reference for soprano usage. -- megA (talk) 14:28, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Ah, but the first few episodes - including the second pilot - used a different orchestration (youtube). The second pilot opening was also notable because it didn't have the "Space, the final frontier" narration.THD3 (talk) 01:41, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but that was either an electric organ or a synthesizer, depending on the sources, but not an ondes or theremin. Still, I've added the synthesizer/organ usage. -- megA (talk) 10:39, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest[edit]

It sure sounds like a theremin at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film). I haven't found it mentioned, though. It may be worth checking out, especially since the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score. Not sure how many times that happened.Kid Bugs (talk) 19:23, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

I haven't checked it, but bear in mind that there simply wasn't any studio thereminist available since Samuel Hoffmann's death in 1967. It might be a synthesizer or an Electro-theremin... -- megA (talk) 09:26, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
EDIT: I listened to the track and what sounds like a theremin is actually a "musical saw", which is frequently mistaken for a theremin (and vice versa), except for the "bowing sound", which adds a bit of distortion at the beginning of a note. see here, for example-- megA (talk) 09:32, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

Big Bang theory[edit]

  • I sourced it to thereminworld, which was already sourced in the article. How would it's appearance in BBT be any different from the Homestar Runner reference under video games? If this is still a problem, maybe adding a 'uses in popular culture,' which is present on many other wiki pages, would be a solution? --Stevehim (talk) 05:51, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm against this, and all similar "in pop culture" mentions, whether sourced or not. The problem isn't just sourcing, it's that they're insignificant. Sheldon Cooper doesn't matter to the theremin or the art of playing it, any more than the use of "cashew chicken" as a plot device did. Once again, these pop culture refs aren't commutative: significance of theremins to Sheldon Cooper (or even to just one episode) doesn't mean that Sheldon Cooper is significant to theremins. Theremins deserve a mention in that episode, maybe the character article, probably not even the BBT show article.
Pop culture theremins should be rare in this article. Led Zep, Bill Bailey and John Otway should all have their theremin mentioned in their own articles. Zeppelin should be mentioned in this article as the only well-known use of a theremin on-stage for a decade. Bill Bailey probably deserves mention here, as a particularly skilled musician who does make use of it in a way that's significant to the art of playing it. John Otway though is someone for whom his theremin is a part of his act, but none of his act influenced the theremin in return, so shouldn't be listed here. Andy Dingley (talk) 09:17, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I can understand the point of view, but it seems a slippery slope deciding what's 'significant' to a particular subject. I'm not remotely an expert on wikipedia policies in this regard, but I was under the impression that we're supposed to be more of a 'documenting reliable source information' site than fine tuning articles to what we think is relevant to the subject.
That said, I can definitely see the point with the analogy you make to 'cashew chicken' (ie - linking every little thing in pop culture is unnecessary and clutters things up), though it seems somewhat significant that the theremin is far less prevalent in the world. Additionally, the same argument could be made for the bulk of the 'Uses' section (ie - are tha facts that it was used in Star Trek, a White Castle commercial, any of the dozen movies listed, etc, any different?)...there are even things in there pointing out that things were not the theremin, presumably because there was a general misconception about those instances.
To add a real life example (as an aside), I had never heard of the instrument prior to seeing it in BBT, so it does matter to the theremin in terms of information dissemination, albeit in a possibly small way. --Stevehim (talk) 13:14, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
BBT as "groundbreaking theremin" though is just recentism. It's the latest time that a theremin appeared before a large audience, so that anyone who didn't know them before will have encountered them in that. I suspect I'm older than you, so to my generation it was Led Zeppelin who showed the first one. Give it a few years and it will be Justin Bieber who's, like, the _inventor_ of the theremin, you know? (Or whatever sort of vat-grown mall-rat we have inflicted upon us next). Andy Dingley (talk) 13:29, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I was the generation after Zeppelin (I'm 36), but it was still a staple of music at the time I was growing up, and I do like their music...I just never really got into music beyond songs/lyrics, so my knowledge in that area is lacking in general. As for the issue at hand, I still don't see what the difference between BBT and roughly 90% of the other references in the 'Uses' section is. --Stevehim (talk) 15:04, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I doubt if there is any difference. Pretty much all ought to go. Andy Dingley (talk) 16:08, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
It's a pretty shoddy representation, after all. The theremin wasn't even plugged in in the hall scene, and an actual thereminist played the "music", with Sheldon Cooper more or less (rather less) "hand-synching" to it. -- megA (talk) 17:01, 26 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't think we're supposed to decide stuff like that. --Stevehim (talk) 00:27, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
If not we, who else. Misrepresentation should at least be noted, if not be an argument for or against notability. Ke$ha does something sexy with a theremin, too – she gets a lot of exposure, but isn't notable for using or promoting the theremin. -- megA (talk) 09:08, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
Nobody, I thought was the point...that we're supposed to just document information by verifiable sources, not decide which ones we like. Obviously, at some point we have to decide what's worth noting (ie - not every instance of a guitar being used and posted about in proper sources belongs on the guitar page), but most of the stuff on the page is of the same ilk as the BBT. I'm not sure what you're referring to with 'misrepresentation should be noted,' if you could clarify. --Stevehim (talk) 10:26, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
My primary concern is that Theremin World doesn't quite meet the qualifications of sourcing in terms of establishing significance, as it would seem to have a vested interest in covering this particular usage. It's not, to my mind, on the same scale as, if, for instance, the New York Times mentioned it, or a source that was doing a review of the episode and took note of the occurrence. To use a possibly bad analogy, I'm reminded of when an editor tried to claim that discussion of an episode/race/species in a Star Trek episode could have its significance established by being discussed in a Star Trek-focused book. That doesn't really work, because of course a book focused on Star Trek is likely to discuss things that occur in episodes. I hope I've made my concerns clear. Doniago (talk) 04:40, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
I thought that same thing when I first posted it, which is why I didn't include the citation. After asking to cite something, that seemed best. It's already used as a citation for something else in the article, and it's listed as the main (read first) external link.
I'm not super-invested in this page, but if we remove the BBT thing it seems to me we'd have to gut the entire 'Uses' section down to maybe a couple paragraphs in 2 or 3 subsections (ie - completely remove video games/books/tv altogether). If we decide that theremin specific sites like Theremin World (and thus also Theremin Vox) are insufficient, that's a few more things that would need to be removed for uniformity, some of which is under the "more important" sections like 'performance technique.' --Stevehim (talk) 05:41, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
It does seem like the majority is objecting to its inclusion here, so removal is probably imminent (and just). The question is, what else has to go too? --Stevehim (talk) 10:27, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Unsourced Material[edit]

Below information had been tagged for needing citations for over a year. Please feel free to reincorprate this material with appropriate references. Doniago (talk) 12:55, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Ultrasonic Theremin[edit]

Is it worth including a section on ultrasonic (or other sensor type) forms of the theremin as well as the conventional EM type? Much of them are built as educational projects for controllers such as Arduino.

Example projects/websites:

Audio Engineering Society Ultrasonic Theremin

Theremin Controlled by Ultrasound Rangefinder (Youtube)

Arduino Blog - Ultrasound Theremin — Preceding unsigned comment added by SheffGruff (talkcontribs) 11:47, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Popular Music section[edit]

Here is a possible addition to the [Popular Music] section, which I am suggesting here per the instructions in the Edit page. Angelo Moore of the alternative rock band Fishbone has been playing a theremin regularly on that band's albums plus his solo work since around 1997. Independent sources on this are rather weak but it was discussed briefly at the Theremin World website (here) and it's very obvious to those familiar with his work. --DOOMSDAYER520 (Talk|Contribs) 19:38, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Does Angelo Moore have any significance to the theremin and its art? (Not "are theremins notable to Fishbone?") Coverage in Theremin World is just the sort of place where we'd find sources for such a claim. However in this case so far, I'm not seeing it. Just "Damn he's getting good", doesn't really cut it, I'm afraid. Andy Dingley (talk) 23:44, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Lighten up, I was just making a friendly suggestion for an informative addition to the article. I assumed that popular acceptance of the theremin by modern working musicians was possibly notable, and I also did not say that the Theremin World thread was a reliable source. Did you search for any other sources before dismissing my friendly suggestion? Also, do you own this article? Have a nice day. --DOOMSDAYER520 (Talk|Contribs) 19:31, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

I noticed that The Lothars were removed from the Popular Music section and would like to reinstate them. They were most active from 1997 through the early 2000's, performing in many major US cities as well as overseas. They released several CDs and, most importantly, were notable as the first and only (as cited in several newspaper articles) band to feature as many as 4 thereminists playing together at once. Although there have been several one-time concert performances by others with multiple theremins, the Lothars were unique as a regularly performing outfit. St. botolph (talk) 17:34, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Sounds like all that's missing is a specific source then. DonIago (talk) 18:17, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Excellent. I'll get on that shortly. St. botolph (talk) 18:55, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Lenin and the theremin[edit]

As there is 'a story' floating on the web about Lenin playing the theremin (whether or not Soviet hagiography) should there be a passing mention? Jackiespeel (talk) 23:33, 25 January 2014 (UTC)

It's well recorded that Theremin demonstrated for Lenin in March 1922 (before Lenin's stroke in May 1922, as this story has also been "debunked" by claiming the dates didn't fit with the incapacitated Lenin). As nothing of this scale could have been permitted without the consent of the nomenklatura, and that it's unlikely the recipient of any such demonstration wouldn't have then had a go themselves, it's entirely plausible that Lenin did play the theremin, at least during a demonstration. There's a description (how much is artistic licence, I don't know) in Glinsky, Albert (2000). Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage. University of Illinois Press. p. 30. ISBN 0252072758. 
Andy Dingley (talk) 00:00, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
I think there was a mention in a previous version of the article - so a note that 'the story exists', with links probably suffices. Jackiespeel (talk) 11:55, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
It's more than a story. It's reported in what we consider WP:RS, to at least the level accepted throughout WP. Now I know they're Ruskies, so I know that they must have stolen the design of the theremin from some good ol'boy American somewhere, but how about just once we lose the US-centric bias and believe that something might have happened, as it's reported? Lenin had far more influence on the theremin that Sheldon Cooper ever did. Andy Dingley (talk) 12:09, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
Taking [1] as an example, what can probably be agreed upon is: Lenin and others were shown the theremin and were allowed to try it out - #but# whether Lenin was able to play a piece from one hearing on an unfamiliar instrument #may# be hagiographical or may be true. Jackiespeel (talk) 22:51, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

What are "similar instruments"?[edit]

This section is becoming a "kitchen sink" of everything that reminds someone of the theremin. When will the slide whistle (continuous pitch variation, sounds vaguely like a theremin) and the flexatone be added?! -- megA (talk) 20:57, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Add Captain Beefheart[edit]

Captain Beefheart is already a highly-underrated musician whose influence is forgotten/belittled by many. His use of the theremin in "Electricity" from the 1967 album Safe as Milk should definitely be noted here. AndrewOne (talk) 23:22, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

Let's assume for the moment the unsourced claim that Beefheart used a theremin. What significance does Beefheart have for the theremin? Andy Dingley (talk) 09:50, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Biffy Clyro[edit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh38CmbGFBM

- Biffy used a Theremin on 2 tracks at least on Only Revolutions I know of - maybe more; One being heard in the video, Shock Shock.

Should this be added to the article?

Has a reliable source taken note of it? DonIago (talk) 13:20, 25 August 2014 (UTC)