The Theremin Lives On

In Moscow News (for Roop):

Finding something cool to do in Moscow at no cost is a near impossible feat. But on the fourth floor of a dingy house, one of the several buildings that make up the Moscow State Conservatory, something awe-inspiring and magical happens every Friday: theremin-playing lessons are given for free, and last up to three hours at a time.

Yes, you read the name right. Invented by and named after the prodigious Leon Theremin, the thereminvox consists of a flat box containing layers of transistors and chips, and two antennas: one shaped like a hoop, protruding from the left with its openings facing the ceiling and floor, and the other a slim metal rod, pointing up. To produce sound, physical contact with the instrument isn’t required. The antennas act as sensors, detecting positioning of the hands: the hoop controls volume (the hand glides up and down an imaginary vertical axis. The lower, the quieter), and the rod is in charge of the pitch (here the imaginary path becomes a horizontal plane – the further back the hand moves, the lower the pitch becomes).

Here’s the Theremin substituting for Gnarls Barkley on a cover of Crazy.