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The Theremin
The Sound Of Sirens

The Theremin is a fascinating instrument for on one hand it was the first practically usable electronic instument in the history of music on the other hand it is the only intrument that can be played without any contact to it.

The Theremin was invented and built by the Russian physicist Lev Sergejewitsch Thermen (Leon Theremin) in 1919. The instrument was further developed by Robert Moog. The Moog company started to manufacture Theremins and does until now.

A Theremin generates two magnetic fields around the two antennas of the instrument. The instrument can be played by altering the distance of the player's hands to the antennas (see picture). With one hand the player can variate the pith with the other hand the volume of the generated tones. That means that the pitch as well als the volume are continuously variable. Based on this functional principle a Theremin can create continuously all tones around a range of 9 octaves.

In its history the Theremin found manifold applications as in films. For the first time it was to hear in a Russian movie called "Odna" but also newer Productions like "Mars Attacks", "The Machinist" or Sci-Fi Series "Babylon 5" used its distinctively sounds.

Leon Theremin developed further instruments like the Theremincello, a Cello without strings or the Rhythmicon for example. Thermen also developed several fascinating wiretapping technologies for the Russian KGB.

Covenant named their first big club hit "Theremin".
The band read about the death of Leon Thermen while working on an untitled track and they decided to name the song "Theremin" to honour him. The lyrics also say "we danced to the sound of sirens", it could be thought, that this line refers to the instrument, as the stepless adjustment of the tone pitch reminds on a siren. There is no Theremin to be heard in the track though.

Image source: wikipedia.de
Information source: wikipedia.de; netzspannung.org;

Related Links:

Lyrics: Theremin
Hören / Listen: Theremin Sound

Technology: deutsche Version [d]
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