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-Theremin for Electronic Music- by Donna Maya

  • Location: CASSIOPEIA / Berlin
  • Symposium: 2018
  • Event: Sample Music Festival
  • Topic: Music Tech

The theremin is an early electronic musical instrument that has a unique sound and a very interesting history. The instrument was invented by Russian physicist and cellist Leon Theremin in 1920. The theremin works by detecting the motion of the player’s hands around two loop-shaped, metal antennae. The player moves his hands near one antenna to control pitch, while the other antenna is used to control loudness or volume. The theremin can also be played without ever touching the instrument, which makes it one of the first electronic musical instruments.

In the early years, the theremin had a number of commercial applications. It was used in classical compositions and radio broadcast music advertising for its unique sound. It would also be used in some atmospheric and horror movies for its eerie sound. Musicians such as Clara Rockmore and Léon Theremin himself toured extensively, performing on the theremin with classical orchestras, exposing more people to the instrument.

Donna Maya is a theremin player, producer and sound artist from Berlin. She shifts musically between experimental electronics and underground techno. In her detailed productions she creates dense atmospheres with electronic beats that got even more intensity by her theremin playing.

In 2017, she enthralled the audience at our symposium as she presented her craft, seamlessly fusing traditional instrumentation with contemporary technology to create an impressive demonstration of the Theremin in combination with Ableton.

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