Happy Birthday Leon Theremin: His Invention's Greatest Hits
Today marks the 115th birthday of Russian inventor Leon Theremin, inventor of the theremin, one of the eeriest and ookiest instruments created in this past century. Mr. Theremin celebrated quietly with family and friends in his native Russia. Just kidding, he died in 1993.
The theremin consists of two antennas and an amplifier used to control the sound. It's been used extensively to create quirky and odd sounds for years. Notable artists who have utilized the theremin include composer Bernard Herrmann, Brian Wilson and Jack White. Austin indie band The Octopus Project uses it live and on record, with member Yvonne Lambert throwing down the kooky theremin jams.
Personally, we have always been scared of theremins, because we just assumed it could shock and kill us. But they make great atmosphere, and we could listen to their sweet sounds all day. OK, if there was one at Guitar Center we would probably touch it.
In addition to the antenna instrument, Theremin was also a creator of many espionage devices that the Soviet regime used to spy on other countries - including the
Great Satan United States - during World War II and the Cold War. His life was chronicled by filmmaker Steven M. Martin for his documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey . It's probably on NetFlix, you geek.
Rocks Off compiled a list of just some of the songs that feature the theremin, including perhaps the instrument's best-known appearance on the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," the Wilson boys' 1966 cover of Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch's 1991 hit single.
Or so we heard. We're way too busy to check Wikipedia.
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