Saturday, October 11, 2008

Instruments of wonders

Theremin: look but don't touch!
Rocket Science @ Annandale Hotel
Did you know there's an instrument you can play without touching it? And has been making appearances in mainstream pop music since the 1960s? Well I sure didn't until recently.

The theremin was named after its inventor, Leon Theremin, who came up with this crazy electronic contraption in 1919 Russia. Apparently Lenin was quite proud of the technology and showed it off around the world. Usually a theremin has two antennae, one for pitch and one for volume, both of which are determined by the position in space of both hands. There have been many variations on the original design, including the electro-theremin, the instrument heard on the Beach Boys' track "Good Vibrations."

Gnarls Barkley's song Crazy, Theremin-style (very well done!)

When cats and theremins collide

Tesla coils: they sing

Megavolt Tesla Coil 1
Even older than the theremin technology is the Tesla coil. It was invented in 1891 by Tesla, and consists of resonant electronic circuits. They've had a variety of uses over the years, and ones used specifically for music have recently become known as Zeusaphones. They have to been seen to be believed. Check out the Tesla-fication of familiar theme songs below.

1 comment:

Psyche said...

yeah, wessel has a lecture (and a rant) about the theremin... it looks pretty fun to me though!