Monday, December 14, 2009

Libertango - A Theremin Version

Like Teflon, the Theremin was invented accidentally. Léon Theremin was developing proximity sensors in a Russian laboratory when he noticed frequency changes related to his proximity to the antenna of the sensor under development. Today's Theremin is but a small step away from that original observation. There are many interesting twists to the spread of the Theremin well documented in the book, Ether Music and Espionage, and the movie, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey. A fascinating chapter is Theremin's invention of the "Great Seal bug," a covert listening device which collected conversations directly from the Moscow residential office of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia for many years before it was detected.

The Theremin instrument disappeared for a while but was resurrected by electronic music wizard, Robert Moog, and brought back into commercial production. The instrument used in today's featured video appears to be a Moog Etherwave Standard Theremin (yes, you can buy your own through that link). The player in the video is nicknamed Comzow and like many of today's best Thereminists, he is from Japan. His motionless body position does not represent a lack of spirit - rather the necessity to avoid motion which would affect the pitch he is trying to achieve. You will understand this better if you watch Thomas Grillo's video demonstrating how to play the Theremin. The instrument in the teaching video appears to be a Moog Etherwave Pro Theremin.

It is a bit on the bizarre side, but the performance is still musical. If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

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