Theremin and Clara Rockmore

I played this Google Doodle today.

The instrument in the doodle is called a Theremin and it was put in there to commemorate the 105th birthday of Clara Rockmore, a Lithuanian Virtuosa performer of the Theremin.

Why does this instrument appeal to me?

What Theremin dreamed up was an electronic instrument with two primary circuits: a pitch circuit and a volume circuit. The pitch circuit used two tuned (radio frequency) oscillators: a fixed oscillator and a variable oscillator. The fixed oscillator generated waves at a static frequency. The variable oscillator was capable of producing a range of frequencies and was connected to a vertical antenna. Through a process called heterodyning, signals from the fixed and variable oscillators were mixed together. The frequency of one oscillator was subtracted from the other. The difference was amplified and, finally, output as an audible musical tone.

Source: HowStuffWorks

Basically, the instrument itself creates an electromagnetic field and since your body acts as a conductor of electricity, when you move your hands over the antennae, you produce an interference and sound gets produced.

Is it difficult to play?

I’ll not answer that, watch this video.

This video speaks more technically as well. Skip to 1:23 for the playing.

So who was Clara Rockmore again?

I’ll not answer that as well, watch Rockmore play the song – “The Swan”.

Now that you know how difficult it is watch Rockmore control the vibratos (which are so easy to play on any string instrument).

More music?

This piece is called Over The Rainbow composed by Harold Arlen for The Wizard of Oz in 1939.

Now I feel like Andy Dufresne sitting on a chair and playing the opera for the entire Shawshank prison.

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