A couple of days ago, on the Team Treehouse forum, a user with the handle Luke Femur announced to the world that he had developed “A Scuzzy Theremin that everyone can play.”
With THAT name and haircut, he seriously needs to be fronting a band.
The scuzz is an LFO set to effect the main sound but right at the beginning of the chain.It’s quite difficult to explain anymore than that. At certain frequencies the LFO and the Source kind of react together and make crazy ring modulator sounds.
It’s at femurdesign.com. Go check it out now and annoy your co-workers.
This is a screencap of the interface. You can’t play this picture. The link is above it.
Theremin simulators, of course, are nothing new. I had one on my old Mac Power PC over 15 years ago, and there were precedents even then. A quick search of the iPhone App Store coughed up over 50 results, many of them free of charge. One of my favorites, that I had years ago, added to its sonic functionality a really fun animation of the instrument’s inventor Leon Theremin (he’s the man in the picture at the very top of this post) playing along with the music the user made. I even found this embeddable one, which you can play right on this page. It’s fun, but the Femur theremin is far superior.
Click the green flag to start. Hold down space bar to play. Mouse up and down control pitch, left and right control volume. Up and down keys change note duration.
The real instrument has long held a tremendous geek appeal, and because its circuitry isn’t a terribly difficult build, DIY kits, inventive cabinets, and user hacks abound. Entire albums recorded on the instrument range in styles from very serious renditions of the classical canon to novelty pop and exotica. And the compelling documentary about the theremin’s namesake inventor is an absolute must-see.
Enjoy some footage of a current master of the device, San Francisco’s Barney the Theremin Wizard, performing at Karla Lavey’s Black XMass.