Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Strange Vibrations

Watch today at 5 (9/30/05) for the story of an Ogden woman who took up the theremin.*

You might have heard the musical instrument on the soundtracks of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and a few less memorable old sci-fi thrillers. (For the record, it does sound as if Brian Wilson used a theremin for "Good Vibrations." It was actually a Tannerin.)

But the story behind the theremin is far more bizarre than the sound of the instrument. It involves a Russian physicist who brings his strange new invention to the American classical music scene and then suddenly vanishes, later it's discovered, into the Soviet intelligence machine.

For the full story, I highly recommend the 1994 documentary, Theremin—An Electronic Odyssey. (BTW, in my brief experience, the theremin is a very difficult instrument to play. Sci-fi glissandos are no problem, but it feels impossible to land notes when there are no frets or keys. Only invisible points in thin air. Maybe that's why they don't have any theremin sections in high school marching bands.)

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