The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Spooky music from the Ether

I saw the documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey with Bunny today.

The Theremin is the first all-electrical instrument made (in 1919) and is the only instrument (as far as I know) that does not require any physical contact to play, just near proximity.

In watching the documentary, I was struck that not only does the Theremin sound similar to a violin, but a melancholy, soulfull violin (with an electronic bent) and as such, it seems perfectly reasonable that it would be invented in Russia. But that may be because most of the music presented was melancholy to begin with (about the only exception being Good Vibrations where it wasn't the only instrument, or even lead instrument).

But the movie was as much about the Theremin as it was about Leo Theremin, the inventor. Both Lenin and Stalin were intrigued by the instrument and it's that intrigue that probably let him tour the States in the late 20s, only to be later kidnapped back to Russia and be forced to work with the KGB while in prison (possibly making electronic spying devices).

It was also interesting to note that Robert Moog (inventor of the Moog synthesizer) got his start in high school making Theremins.

Bunny also had several albums of Theremin music, but unfortunately has no way of actually playing the records, they being 78s. Nor do I have a way of playing such records. Pity, because it would be interesting to hear the music.

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