August 14, 2006

Why I Don't Like The Theremin: A Simple Example...

by Chris Randall

I have this theory about guys that wear kilts. (Not Scottish Gentry, of course. I mean the kind of guys who's 'day' job is as a bouncer at a goth club.) The reason I find them so fucking annoying is not the fact that they wear kilts. I mean, who gives a rat's ass what you wear? It's the fact that they talk about it incescently. As in "dude! I can't wait until casual Friday! I'm gonna wear my kilt!" Their entire life revolves around the various opportunities one might have for wearing a kilt, and it seems it's all they care about.

I find theremins to be strikingly similar. There isn't much in the audio world more annoying than the caterwauling of a poor theremin player. (Well, Diamond Dave is more annoying, but not by much.) It's not so much that I hate theremins as an instrument. I just hate the fact that people that aren't very good with that instrument seem to take a special kind of pride in inflicting it on others.

With this entry, I try to see what that feels like, by inflicting the world's most annoying song, performed on the world's most annoying instrument, by someone that I'm sure is annoying in real life. It's like an annoying trifecta. Enjoy.



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Aug.14.2006 @ 9:51 PM
Suit & Tie Guy
another thing:

guys who could have better taste developing theremin skill to the point where they can play "Don't worry, be happy" on it don't make me hate theremin.

dumb indie rockers who think they're post rock superstars who could have better taste not developing theremin skills at all yet "play theremin" on original tunes while wearing a white belt, smoking Parliaments, and swilling PBR down at the Legion hall make me hate theremin.

you should find a video of _that_. it would have been a better example.


Aug.14.2006 @ 10:10 PM
Chris Randall
Anyone that smokes Parliments is suspect in my book, whether or not they play a theremin. And Bobby McFerrin fucked the shit out of my mom. Seriously, though, if you're actually sticking up for that song, well, you've got bigger fish to fry than me making fun of you in my blog.

Bobby McFerrin is an incredibly talented singer, and probably the best vocalese performer the world has ever known. However, he does exhibit an occasional lapse in judgement. To wit. In actual fact, most of that particular album is completely unlistenable, IM oh-so HO. Now, this nipplehead serving up the combo platter is another matter entirely.



Aug.14.2006 @ 10:39 PM

check out my friend from New Orleans

link []">link []

Lawd have murcy!


Aug.14.2006 @ 10:51 PM
For me, this just crosses that line of absurdity where you have to laugh. I really doubt this kid is trying to get signed with his amazing theremin / vocal covers of songs people wish hadn't existed in the first place. You have to at least laugh at the idea that some fucktard wasted time to achieve this useless skill. It would have been better though if it were a monkey or possibly a trained chicken (no one would believe it if a chicken did it without training).

I agree with the kilt thing also. Also, why is it that the kilt guys always like bondage, anime, and D'n'D?


Aug.15.2006 @ 4:26 PM
Here's a beautiful theramin player that plays some really good music.

link []">link []


Aug.15.2006 @ 5:50 PM
I have to say that indeed, while "Don't Worry Be Happy" shows poor judgement, for a theremin player he's not bad. Having attempted to play serious theremin myself, I know getting to the point where you have accurate fingering positions is quite hard. That's what made Clara such a great player: she didn't glide around for the note, she hit them exactly. It's incredibly hard to do considering that a) there is no visual reference and b) the tuning is very sensitive to temperature, what other objects are around, and how your body is positioned. So I give this guy props for being better than I ever will, because I don't have the patience for it when I can do it with synths and actually be in tune.

Just making a theremin go "wheeeOOOH" is a lot of fun, but it really should only be done in the privacy of your own home.


Aug.15.2006 @ 6:48 PM
I've had this idiotic exchange with a million off-key singers, so here it goes again... singing/playing off key never ever sounds good. Theremins are hard to play. If you can't play in key, don't do it. Please.

I always forget what it's called, but there's a French thingee that uses the same kind of heterodyning oscillator idea as a theremin, but it's just got a long metal strip (like a big ribbon controller), and it only makes noise when you touch it. Granted, you don't have the dynamic control you get with a real theremin(or some non-retards do), but it's a lot easier to play. (I'm not talking about an Ondes Martenot... this is something that's currently made).

I played one a while ago at NAMM, and I was rockin' some pretty accurate Portishead in a jiffy (and yes, I know the Portishead stuff is actually Minimoog... this a pre-emptive shut the fuck up).

If I remember right, it didn't have too much in the way of markings, and it definitely had no pitch quantization... of course, if your ear/hand/brain pitch quantization apparatus doesn't work very well, that could be a strong indication that you're

a) not a musician in the first place, asshole


b) in a band from Silverlake (see a)



Aug.16.2006 @ 12:20 PM
"...probably the best vocalese performer the world has ever known."

That's like saying "greatest octogenarian midget porn star ever." I guess somebody has to be the best, but I don't want to go to the awards ceremony.


Aug.16.2006 @ 9:53 PM
Ye Gods! When he comes in with the second harmony on the vocal melody line it's the most sickening atrocious sound.

I'm not a fan of glissando. Precise microtone scales, maybe sometimes, but pure glissando, no thank you.


Aug.17.2006 @ 4:21 AM
Pamelia Kurstin is a good player, i've seen her. Quite feisty (in a lovely way) so be careful what you say!

> there's a French thingee....

That's a Ondes Martenot, Heard on many a Radiohead recording.


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