Moog’s New Theramin Etherwave Still Makes Far-Out Sounds

One of the coolest devices I’ve performed this 12 months requires a small historical past lesson: In 1949, in a small dwelling in Queens, New York, a 14-year-old boy named Robert Moog put collectively his first-ever theremin. He had been obsessive about the antenna-controlled digital instrument, a touchless electromagnetic machine that had been invented accidentally simply twenty years earlier in a Soviet laboratory. The theremin, which now squeals to us with the nostalgic sounds of the area age, supplied the never-heard sounds of the longer term for that younger boy.

By 1953, Moog had developed his personal improved model of the theremin, promoting them as kits by mail order as he completed school. After graduating, Moog leaned into his love of obscure digital sounds and the means of making them, utilizing the information he gained first at Queens College, then Columbia University and Cornell—the place he earned a grasp’s in electrical engineering and a PhD in engineering physics—to create a few of the most iconic synthesizers and keyboards of our age. But folks by no means actually acquired over his theremins.

From loopy Tiny Desk Concerts to classroom science demonstrations, the world’s first digital instrument, one that you simply don’t contact however merely manipulate utilizing your palms inside an invisible electromagnetic subject, has a method of thrilling everybody who comes upon it, and Moog made probably the most well-known mannequin in historical past.

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Riding the Etherwave

After almost 100 years since its invention and 60 years of Moog’s personal model, we now have the brand-new Etherwave Theremin, a contemporary re-creation of the kits Moog would have made. It’s nonetheless the instrument that garners probably the most consideration in my life. “You have a Theremin!?!?” has develop into the common exclamation in my yard studio over the previous six months since I obtained it to check. “Rad!”

And so musicians and non, children and adults, have put their palms to the check, transferring the left one up and down to control quantity, the suitable to attempt to hit no matter pitch they’re trying—a feat that’s not as straightforward because it appears. As famed Theremin player Clara Rockmore put it, that is an instrument “you have to play with butterfly wings.” The lack of bodily suggestions could make it laborious to dial in your good tones, so many individuals strive particular hand shapes to be extra exact.

Despite the overwhelming majority of the sounds popping out of the Etherwave in my studio being … lower than good … I can’t consider a tool that has introduced extra musical enthusiasm into my life this 12 months. The factor would possibly as properly be a smile machine, with people discovering hilarious and inventive noises as they surf the electromagnetic waves within the air. It even has an “easy mode”—you need to use management voltage outputs on the synth to control different, extra wieldy synths and sound modules.

Just as you will have nearly definitely heard one in every of these theremins beckoning aliens onscreen, you’ve positively heard these sounds taking you to outer area. When Moog, the corporate—nonetheless round and recognized for making a few of the greatest keyboards on the planet—units its thoughts to a brand new Theremin, you recognize you’re getting the most effective. And the most effective will price you about $750.

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