The ultimate marriage of modulars and the theremin


The theremin started the electronic revolution in music, but have since moved into the outskirts of the music scene. Mainly used by experimental artists exploring the unique sounds that the theremin can generate. Now however we may be witnessing a change thanks to WaveLicker.  In cooperation with the well-known theremin artist Coralie Ehinger they’ve created the Thereminator.

Combining one of the oldest electronic instruments with the most cutting edge advances in analog synthesis, the Thereminator is designed to take the control voltage signal of a theremin antenna and convert it into three gate and trigger signals.

Swiss born Coralie Ehinger shows just how powerful the module is. It has added extra versatility for performance that allows users to ditch the computer and focus entirely on hardware. As Ehinger explains, “It boosted my creativity and totally changed my solo theremin performance: I am not using any playback or computer devices on stage anymore. I can play synth and my theremin simultaneously.”

How it works:

It allows to use the CV output of the theremin antennas (Etherwave Plus, E-Pro, …) and to convert it to gate and trigger output. The potentiometer makes it possible to set each of the three release distances and to store them in memory in the module (thus the parameters are memorized during the extinction of the module). For each distance two kinds of outputs are possible: gate and trigger. The gates are triggered as soon as the distance of the hand is higher than the one that has been set and stays as long as the hand does not go down. This makes it possible to trigger the envelopes and maintain the sound. Triggers are short pulses (around 10ms). They are intended to trigger percussion or clocks signals.

Here’s what Ehinger has to say about it: Thereminator is pretty simple to use. A calibration is requested before using it, to assure full compatibility with your theremin. After that, it is just a matter of practice : theremin playing is very subtle and sensitive, so using Thereminator accurately also require some training.

Up to three different tresholds points can be edited and stored. This is great, because you can adjust the distance (= where in space the trig happens) without changing your theremin playing settings. You can patch it with the pitch or with the volume antenna CV.

In this video, i used the volume antenna only because i find it easier to get a musical application with it.

Alain Gillièron – the boss of WaveLicker – created Thereminator on my request. He made an external gate for my theremin about a year ago. It boosted my creativity and totally changed my solo theremin performance : i am not using any playback nor computer device on stage anymore. I can play synth and my theremin simultaneously. So, we decided to improve this device and develop a Eurorack module, so that other people can have access to this “augmented” theremin playing. I am totally addicted to this module! I am very thankful to Alain Gillièron, all the energy and time he dedicated to this project.

I’ve been testing the prototype for a 3 months and I made 5 patch to show different ideas.

00:51 Patch#1 – drums playing

01:08 Patch#2 – shoot & freeze sample

01:43 Patch#3 – it rings 03:23

Patch#4 – step by step 04:20

Patch#5 – percussive ADSR

You can find out more about the module over at the Wavelicker site here.

About Coralie Ehinger:

Coralie Ehinger lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is passionate about electronic instruments, in particular the theremin, her instrument of choice. Combining her musical knowledge and educational experience – she holds a degree in special education – she has worked to develop the didactic and recreational aspects of the theremin in the courses and conferences she offers in schools (Gymnase de la Broye, Genevan middle schools, etc.) and festivals (Montreux Jazz Festival, Electrosanne, Festival Electron, Présences Electroniques, etc.).

She has collaborated with several artists, featuring for example on the piece Long Live Paper & Scissors by the Lausanne-based band Fauve, Odieux and Si forte by Robert Sandoz (Robe) as well as Secret Garden by Xewin. She also performs solo under the name Therminal C at art exhibits, cultural events, etc. Coralie Ehinger not only plays the theremin, but also the Matryomin, a small theremin built into a Matryoshka (Russian nesting doll). She is an official member of the Matryomin Ensemble Mable, a Japanese ensemble of Matryomin players, and has performed with them in Japan and during their European tour. In 2007 she created the first French-language online platform dedicated to the theremin, www.etheremin.com, and co-wrote An Introduction to the Theremin, which has been translated into several languages. She founded in 2009 the NODE, a theremin festival in Lausanne which, building upon its successes, became in 2012 the N/O/D/E, a festival dedicated to sound oddities, focusing on unusual instruments, forgotten sounds, bizarre music and the correlation between past and present. The 5th edition took place in January 2016. An avid frequenter of conventions and electronic music events, she travels Europe regularly and has become the Swiss ambassador of the theremin.