I will be streaming live October 31st at 6PM Mountain/Midnight GMT to bring you a special Halloween Edition of SciFi Electronica Live with all original music. Segments on the show will include music and sound from:
Recordings of sound design cues I composed/produced for haunted houses
Recordings from the album NO GHOSTS. JUST FEAR.which released on Halloween last year. I’ll be offering behind-the-scenes notes on these horror soundscapes.
Rick Reid is an composer and performer of original and experimental electronic music and sound effects from Denver Colorado and a member of the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup. Rick is also a thereminist. He’s just released a new album called Cheese and Other Delights which is now available for streaming and mp3 download from most major on-line music retailers.
What Was That Instrument The Beach Boys Played on During “Good Vibrations” at the 2012 Grammy’s? It’s called an Electro-Theremin – also known as a Tannerin. Wikipedia has a nice summary:
… developed by trombonist Paul Tanner and amateur inventor Bob Whitsell in the late 1950s to produce a sound to mimic that of the theremin. The instrument features a tone and portamento similar to that of the theremin (or thereminvox), but with a different control mechanism. It consisted of a sine wave generator with a knob that controlled the pitch, placed inside a wooden box. The pitch knob was attached to a slider on the outside of the box with some string. The player would move the slider, thus turning the knob to the desired frequency, with the help of markings drawn on the box.
Differences Between Theremin and Electro-Theremin
In a nutshell, Theremin’s determine pitch based on proximity of your hand to a pitch antenna. Because the Electro-Theremin uses this slider system which has visual reference points along the slider, it’s much easier to consistently hit the note your going for – while still sounding theremin-like.
Here are two good articles I found that dig even deeper into the differences.
I was first introduced to Armen Ra’s music through the radio show and podcast Spellbound, a brief program of music for theremin where I heard the song “Dle Yaman”. The song is both beautiful and haunting. I immediately bought his album Plays the Theremin which is simply fantastic.
Most of the songs have sparse accompaniment leaving plenty of breathing room for the Theremin virtuoso’s dynamic emotive playing style to shine through in each piece. The exception to this rule “The Call” which is beat driven. In some cases Armen over dubs with additional Theremin parts. For example in the track “Garouna”, at the 0:53 mark, he plays another line an octave up but dancing around timing of the first line which really adds tension to the piece. The entire album is great so I recommend you give it a listen and support Armen’s indie work with a buy.
In other Armen Ra music news, he will also be appearing on an episode of CSI which will air around Halloween, and his tracks will be be on NPR’s Nationally syndicated show Hearts of Space (most stations will run it on October 16 – check local listings http://www.hos.com/#stations).
I met Tim at my recent concert at the Art Institute of California/Sunnyvale and he was kind enough to invite me over to see his latest development project, the MultiMultiTouchTouch. This custom solution offers players any number of arbitrarily-shaped multitouch areas with three-dimensional spatial control. Interaction with this space allows users to control and play virtual synthesizers using nothing but a Microsoft Kinect as the controller.
Ironically, the concept shown in Moog Music’s April Fools video “Introducing the Moog Polyphonic Theremin” is not only a reality, but Tim has one-upped this idea by providing polyphonic spatial control in multiple “frames”, AND more granular control than a Theremin with finger blob detection. In short MultiMultiTouchTouch is like having a polyphonic/multitimbral Theremin that can not only detect hand movements, but finger movements as well - from multiple players!!!
Luckily I brought my video camera along and recorded Tim describing and demoing the technology. I also give the MultiMultiTouchTouch a try at the end of the video. So, without further ado, I present the video “An Exclusive First Look at Tim Thompson's Kinect-Based Instrument: MultiMultiTouchTouch”
Pass It On I want to reiterate, this is real and NOT a late April Fool’s joke. Incredible work Tim! Congrats. I can’t wait to see where Tim takes this and look forward to the possibility of doing some MultiMultiTouchTouch compositions and performances myself. To help Tim promote his work share this video.
Listener/Viewer Notes This video is in HD and I captured the audio full fidelity right from my sound card so listen with some good headphones or on a good system and select HD for full-screen viewing. The video and audio were captured in one continuous take with no content edits.
Composer Notes To fit the back-story of my album, I set out to compose a song that sounded a bit alien in origin. To liberate myself from my typical compositional instrument of the keyboard, I decided to compose and perform the textures and melodies using only spatial controllers. I this case I used a Moog Etherwave Theremin, and a Percussa AudioCube. Once I got going with this notion I really got using 6 dimension of spatial control to go “Hendrix” with the Theremin. The title of the song has many meanings, one of which should be obvious to Theremin fans.
Producer Notes I'm routing the Theremin analog signal into Ableton Live and then I convert the the signal from pitch-to-MIDI in real-time. This signal is routed to various virtual instruments hosted in Live. I then use a Percussa AudioCube in Sensor mode to add 4 additional dimensions of modulate in real-time. So 6 dimensions of spatial control. I'm changing the signal routing of the Theremin to route MIDI to different virtual instruments on the fly using the Novation Launchpad.