Alexander Nevsky is one of the great heros of Russian history. He is reputed to have driven an army of Livonian Knights (German “warrior monks”) from Russia in the year 1241. The decisive battle was on the ice of the frozen lake Peipus (in Russian “Chudsko-Pskovskoe ozero”) in the spring of 1242.
The Russian film director, Sergei Eisenstein, made a movie of this epic battle in 1938 and hired composer Sergei Prokofiev to write the music for it. ALEXANDER NEVSKY is considered by many experts to be one of the great movies of all time, and the piece of music in this video (transcribed for theremin) is from that film.
Following the Battle On The Ice, there are hundreds of dead soldiers lying in the snow and a young maiden walks out onto the frozen lake looking for her lover, and sings, “I shall go across the snow-clad field, I shall fly above the field of death, I shall search for valiant warriors there…..”
The composer Prokofiev had spent some time in Hollywood in the 1930’s, and had made a study of the new science of soundtracking for film. Director Eisenstein said of Prokofiev, “He is a man of our time and a man of the screen. He understands how the screen can reveal not only the outer appearance of things but their inner nature as well. He is able to dress objects in sound and instrumentation, bringing them to life with shifts in tone and timbre, adding an emotional dimension to images through his orchestration”.
Prokofiev later took his score for ALEXANDER NEVSKY and made a cantata out of it for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra. The interesting thing about the composition is that the music, as powerful as it is, does not overshadow the film. It complements it perfectly while remaining one of the composer’s most enduring works.
The theremin in this video is the 1929 RCA that was once the property of the late Hollywood thereminist, Dr. Samuel Hoffman.
Imagine you could draw musical instruments on normal paper with any pencil (cheap circuit thumb-tacked on) and then play them with your finger. The Drawdio circuit-craft lets you MacGuyver your everyday objects into musical instruments: paintbrushes, macaroni, trees, grandpa, even the kitchen sink…
One day I bought a “harmonium” kit at the street market in Bangalore. I hacksawed the keyboard off to make the first ever Drawdio circuit. We played with it at a local school in the slums using plants, water, our foreheads, etc. My friend told me graphite would work too. Meditating on it, I realized the Drawdio circuit should be literally attached to a pencil to “draw audio,” and that’s where the name came from: Draw + Audio.
Blech Turm Studios has released BTS Theremin – a free virtual theremin VST for Windows.
BTS Theremin Features:
- 1 OSC (Sin/Squ/Mix)
- 2 LFOs (Pitch,Amp)
- 2 ADSR (1x Pitch LFO, 1x Amp),
- Waveshaper/Saturation, 10 Presets
Download at the Blech Turm site.
The Therenect is a virtual Theremin for the Kinect controller. It defines two virtual antenna points, which allow controlling the pitch and volume of a simple oscillator. The distance to these points can be controlled by freely moving the hand in three dimensions or by reshaping the hand, which should allow gestures that are quite similar to playing an actual Theremin.
This musical instrument demo has been developed by Martin Kaltenbrunner at the Interface Culture Lab at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. The software has been developed using the Open Frameworks and OpenKinect libraries.
Remarks: Talking to a professional thereminist revealed that there are still some significant improvements needed to simulate the exact behavior of an actual Theremin. This includes the scaling of the frequency control by the power of two and defining a smaller range for the amplitude control. We will soon post an updated version that also synthesizes the original Theremin sound.
It defines two virtual antenna points, which allow controlling the pitch and volume of a simple oscillator. The distance to these points can be controlled by freely moving the hand in three dimensions or by reshaping the hand, which allows gestures that are quite similar to playing an actual Theremin.
This musical instrument has been developed by Martin Kaltenbrunner at the Interface Culture Lab at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. The software has been developed using the Open Frameworks and OpenKinect libraries.
GyroSynth is a gesture-driven music synthesizer for the iPhone 4, that takes adventage of the gyroscope to let you play and modulate the sound by moving your hand through the air.
GyroSynth uses the iPhone 4’s gyroscope to measure roll, pitch, and yaw of the phone and translates them to sound parameters like pitch, volume, modulation or filter cutoff.
- 4 types of oscillator: vocal (formant synthesizer), sine wave and square (PWM modulation), R2D2 – experimental FM modulation
- Several control modes
- Delay effect
- Included musical scales allow you to effortlessly play in several styles
- Built-in recorder and player with overdub function
Pricing and Availability
GyroSynth is available now for $9.99.
- GyroSynth in the App Store
Put some Beat Frequency in your Halloween Party. Dance Mix downloadable until Nov 5 at http://soundcloud.com/beat-frequency/…
Moog Etherwave theremin, Marshall Echohead EH-1 delay pedal, lobster knife, carving knife.
(The knives serve a musical purpose – touching the metal blade causes an abrupt change in pitch or volume.)
This video demonstrates Nerdkits’ Theremin Halloween costume:
The costume features two homebuilt infrared distance sensors mounted on the wrists. Someone wishing to “play” your costume can move his or her hands up and down above the distance sensors. One hand controls the pitch of the note, and the other controls the volume. The sound is emitted from a piezoelectric buzzer mounted on the breadboard, worn around the neck.
The idea behind this costume is to recreate the function of a theremin and build it into a Halloween costume, giving someone that approaches you while trick-or-treating the ability to wave their hands and make music with your costume like a theremin.
DIY details are available at the Nerdkits site.
We ran a Moog Etherwave Theremin through the OTO Biscuit and noticed a nice heartbeat occurred when the Theremin hit a very low note with a fast attack. The OTO Biscuit crushed the tone to bits which was also aided in the effect.
If you are listening through cheap computer speakers, this will not sound like much of anything. You really need some serious woofers or high end headphones to hear the low frequencies that are in this video.
Thanks to Josh Flynn for shooting the video!
Frank O’Brien and Kip Rosser discuss and demo the Moog Melodia built by Frank’s dad in the early 1960’s.