Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sarah Blasko “All I Want”

What’s the only instrument that you play, by not touching it?

A theremin.

You may not be familiar with the instrument, but I bet you know the sound, if not from music, then from movies.

The theremin is an early electronic instrument, created in the 1920s by its namesake, Dr. Leon Theremin. It generally consists of two metal antennas. You put your hand in between the two rods, and depending on where your hand is (higher or lower, right or left) the machine emits a certain frequency and volume.

The good Doctor developed this instrument for symphonic use, but much to his chagrin, its sound is synonymous with 50s Sci-Fi movies. The theremin was used for the spaceship sound effects in “The Day The Earth Stood Still” among many other movies.

But the theremin made its way into popular music, thanks to experimental popsters like Brian Wilson. In perhaps his most famous song, at the penultimate moment, a theremin is employed. You know the end of “Good Vibrations”? That electronic whistle of the melody is a theremin (actually a tannerin, a cousin of the theremin).

But what if you want to work backward, and go analog?

You can make your electric guitar, acoustic. You can trade your keyboard for a piano. And your loops for a drum kit.

But how do you have an acoustic theremin?

Sarah Blasko figured out how. She does it with her voice.

It took several listens to be convinced that the theremin sound, is actually Sarah singing. Pretty amazing human recreation.

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