Optical Theremin Toilet, Operatic Daisies, and More of the Weirdest Instruments Ever

The beauty of musical instruments lies partly in their strangeness: odd objects that have mysterious sound-making powers. So really, why not a toilet? Toilet, Pooh, Pikachu: Cementimental’s “Optical Theremin Loo” packs an optical theremin (with a photoresistor, in other words) into a plastic toy toilet. (Tom at Music Thing should like this as it’s white, not silver.) You can control the flow of light into the device using the lid. That’s just one of Cementimental’s strange creations: on his circuit bending projects page are various other toy modifications, including a fantastic Ghostbusters Ghost Box, Winnie-the-Pooh toy turned black box with …

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Happy Birthday, Leon Theremin!

Leon Theremin would have been 109 today; Theremin World observes the date with a virtual birthday card signing. How will you spend the holiday? I’m thinking a screening of the brilliant Theremin documentary is in order here at CDM HQ. Or I could set off the building fire alarm with 109 candles.

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Leading Divas of Theremin: Singapore’s Xenovibes

Theremin playing is a growing global phenomenon; more proof comes to us from Singapore. I’ve already done a brief roundup of leading women of the Theremin; Shueh-li Ong writes us to say that she’s known as “Singapore’s only diva of the Theremin.” You don’t have to be in Singapore to hear her, either; she’s touring the United States. Info on the tour and her CD (including sound samples): Xenovibes The music sounds great; unique, driving electronica. (PR description: “Disparate musical souls meld in Shueh-li’s exotic world where classical meets, ethnic, cyber, rock and funk soul.”) She’s already got a Dallas, …

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Wanted: Ether Music 2005 Theremin Festival Reports

Any of you lucky enough to be in North Carolina this weekend for the huge Ether Music Festival, entirely devoted to Theremin music, please drop me a line. (See previous report.) I’d love to post photos and show reports here, even casual show impressions. Music Thing has a quick initial report from Jason from Theremin World. Think polyphonic Theremin, Theremin cello, and killer Moog setup. Watch Theremin World for more from Jason soon. So I know we have a few North Carolinian readers — any of y’all make it? Related topics: Theremin Diva roundup, MacMusic interview with Pamelia Kurstin, Theremin …

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PDA Music: Theremin Apps for Palm, PocketPC

Cris (aka atariboy) sends us Theremin emulators for your PDA — it’s theremin to go. Cris writes: Pete Moss ThereMini (US$10): This guy has a Theremin emulator with MIDI out, no less! For PalmOS on his Palm software page. Got a PocketPC? check out Clanger. (Free) You can even change the tremelo rate and decay time. Cool stuff. Got an app you love for your Palm, PocketPC, or phone? Let us know. (Okay, my current favorite phone app is the “off” function, but how about you?)

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Thereminist Pamelia Kurstin on MacMusic

MacMusic.org has a great interview with “rollerskating” Thereminist Pamelia Kurstin. Hear Pamelia’s insights on how she’s become a Theremin virtuoso. And if you can make it to North Carolina in August, you won’t want to miss Ether Music 2005, where she’ll be playing with other greats of Theremin music from around the world. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make the trip as I wrap up work on my book, but I’ll at least catch up with Pamelia here in NYC; she has a residency for the month of August in Brooklyn — more at her site. Not …

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Thereminy Game Scores: Destroy All Humans!

Composer Gary Schyman has a rich, tongue-in-cheek score for the Xbox/PS2 game Destroy All Monsters; his homage to classic scores like The Day The Earth Stood Still earns him an interview on NPR: Schyman on Weekend Edition Plenty of tracks to download; via Theremin World, where you can find reviews, more links, and more sounds to download. But, fun as this new score is, I’m surprised that Theremin World doesn’t give Schyman a hard time for using a synthesized Theremin instead of the real thing. (Pity the poor copy editors at IGN, who refer to a “sign” wave and “portamenteau.” …

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Jamie Lidell Interview: Trancing on Theremin, Rocking MPC and PC

Singer and electronic one-man band Jamie Lidell has a great interview from Belgium’s Domino Festival. Jamie speaks from the back seat of a Volvo station wagon to a phantom interviewer. He reflects on performance, trance states (people tell him he does weird things with his eyes onstage), and getting “deeper” live. There’s also some great footage of him illustrating his voice as an instrument and rocking out behind a table of electronic toys from Korg ElecTribes to MPCs to a PC laptop to a Theremin. That’s not strictly speaking the kind of Theremin technique some would endorse, but it’s sure …

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Theremin Divas: Leading Ladies of Music of the Air [Updated]

While we’re on the subject, it’s worth noting that a wide range of exquisitely talented women have taken up the Theremin as a serious instrument, continuing the legacy of Clara Rockmore and the instrument’s inventor, Leon Theremin: The Classical great: Lydia Kavina has led the charge, tutoring students in mastering the instrument using techniques developed by herself, Rockmore, and Theremin. She even has an instructional video and regularly gives master classes and lessons. Kavina is a major globe-trotter, from Barcelona to Singapore just in the next few months, is a noted composer, and has performed with the likes of the …

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Theremin Roundup! Battles and Festival, Game Soundtrack, Award

The Renaissance of the Theremin continues: this 1917 instrument, born out of radio tube experiments (ironically, the accidental discovery that human proximity interfered with the tubes), is still going strong. Here’s the latest: Theremin Battle: An all-fun contest is underway Sunday night in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, reports Theremin World: show up, play 10 minutes, and you could win (drum roll!) twenty-five bucks! I like the idea of Theremerican Idol. See the details, and if you go, send photos and a report! (Anyone in NC out there?) Gigantic Theremin Festival: Also in North Carolina, (Asheville, home of Moog Music), it’s …

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