Theremin Instrument

In News

The Theremin Instrument turned 100 years.


  • The world’s first electronic device, the Theremin instrument turned 100 years old.
  • The Theremin is one of the interesting inventions as it revolutionized music.
  • Today, only a small group of musicians across the world knows of the Theremin and plays it.
  • The Theremin instrument had a strong relationship with the prisons of Siberia and Hollywood films of the 20th century.
  • The Theremin instrument was created in the laboratory at the Physical Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg by Lev Sergeyevich Termen, known by the name Leon Termen.

How to play the Theremin?

  • The Theremin instrument has two antennas, a vertical and a looped antenna.
  • The players can modulate the electromagnetic fields by moving their hands and fingers around antennas in space.
  • If the hand is moved around the vertical antenna, one can increase or decrease the tone.
  • To control the volume, the looped antenna is used.
  • Theremin instrument requires control of the body by a performer.
  • One can grab notes in the air as there is no keyboard or fretboard for reference in playing notes.
  • A player needs fine spatial perception to hit the notes.
  • A theremin player needs to combine relaxed body movements with intense mental focus.

Why in News?

  • Leon Termen performed it before Vladimir Lenin at the Kremlin in 1922 and for Albert Einstein in Berlin in 1927.
  • The Theremin was performed by Carolina Eyck at the Berlin City Parliament on October 1.
  • For her 2014 concert of the recording of Theremin Concerto Eight Seasons, received the Recording of the Year Award in Germany.
  • Icelandic musician Hekla Magnusdottir released her latest theremin and voice album in 2020 named Sprungur.
  • This instrument has been featured in Hollywood in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound-1945, Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend-1945, and Cecil B DeMille’s The Ten Commandments-1956.

Creator of the Theremin

  • Leon Theremin was a genius and was credited with a variety of discoveries, from the early drum machines to equipment for the US airplanes.
  • His other famous invention was a bugging device.
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