Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

I recently bought a Moog Theremini for my ever expanding synthesizer studio. The Theremini is a new take by Moog Music on the age old Theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments ever made. The original Theremin generated sinus waves, which were triggered by moving your hands along two antenna’s. The new Theremini does the same, but uses digital instead of analog sound synthesis. This means it is capable of generating many more sounds than just a simple sinus waveform. This is the Moog promo video of the Theremini by thereminist Dorit Chrysler demonstrating the versatility of this renewed Moog theremin:

I have been interested in the Theremin from the 1980’s onwards. I even wrote an article on it and other ancient electronic instruments – such as the Telharmonium and the Ondes Martenot–  for a popular science magazine in the  late ’80s. The instrument was invented in 1928 by Russian inventor (and spy: read: Theremin. Ether Music and Espionage by Albert Glinsky ) Lev Termen a.k.a “Leon Theremin” in the USA. This video shows him playing his invention:

The Theremin was used in modern 20th century composed music by composers such as Messiaen and Shostakovich, but is better known for its use in film scores, notably of sci-fi B movies like  The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing (From Another World) and in the British TV series  Midsomer Murders. In pop/rock music the Theremin was used by the likes of the Beach Boys (Good Vibrations), Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band (Electricity), Led Zeppelin (Whole lotta Love) and space rock band Hawkwind. During the ’90’s there was some kind of a theremin revival, which is sometimes credited to the Portishead song “Mysterons” from their Dummy album. However, the distinctive “theremin” sound on this track was made by a synthesizer (probably a Roland SH-101), not by a theremin:

It is hard to play a theremin due to the glissandi generated by the hand gestures: it is difficult to keep a pitch by not moving your hands while playing. So there are only a few contemporary thereminists of which Lydia Kavina,  Carolina Eyk and Dorit Chrysler (see above) are probably the most well-known. This video shows a demonstration of the new Moog Theremini by Lydia Kavina, in which she explains some playing techniques:

 The new Moog Theremini supports Midi and has a USB port, enabling it to be used as a Midi controller. So it introduces new possibilities for an instrument which is nearly 100 years old in electronic music. Check it out if you are interested in both the history and future of electronic music instruments.

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Back in 1979 I bought my first synth: a monophonic Korg MS-20 which I still own. The cause of it were a British post-punk band from Sheffield: Cabaret Voltaire, which I saw at the Effenaar venue in Eindhoven in the same year.

They are included in the BBC-4 documentary Synth Britannia, which focuses on the rise of synth pop in the post-punk era. Although the focus is on “”pop” bands like The Human League, OMD, Depeche Mode and individuals like Gary Numan, the influence of more “industrial” outfits like Cabaret Voltaire,  Throbbing Gristle and The Normal is also mentioned.

The BBC 4 documentary links the rise of synth pop to the bleak landscape, economics and politics of ’70 s Britain. So a very interesting video to check out if you are into electronic music (history).

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Reblogged from Binary Heap:

Binary Heap


“Our ambition, with this Guide to Sound Objects, has always been to give researchers, musicians, music-lovers and all who are directly or indirectly interested in the sound-universe an unbiased, clear and dependable tool (if this can be done) for a better knowledge and understanding of Pierre Schaeffer’s considerable contribution to this field, by means of an inventory of the ideas and concepts developed in his most important work, the Traité des Objets Musicaux.”

Download PDF : Guide To Sound Objects

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Feminatronic has a YouTube Channel highlighting Artists and their Channels and each month I will be putting the spotlight on a Featured Channel.

This month –

lomita chillout


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There seems to be something wrong with this video, but the result blends in nicely with the sounds generated by the zither:



Meng Qi is a  noise boxes builder from China and versions of this instrument seem to be for sale, see http://mengqimusic.com/AetherZither :

Aether Zither 以太筝 - built by Meng Qi, is an electro-acoustic musical 
instrument. It’s playing surface is assembled with springs, speakers, 
knobs and touch points. 
The combination of mechanical and electric aspects makes it an one 
of a kind and fully expressive instrument.
The Synthesis engine of AZ - Sidrassi, designed by Peter Blasser - 
is a true analog polyphonic synthesizer circuit. 
It has an unique approach regarding synthesis principle. 
There is a parameter called chaos - it controls the modulation depth 
among the voices, which would result in different level of noisy texture. 
Addtional to it, there are also touch points which allows the player to 
perform touch circuit-bend.

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February 2023

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