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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » Theremin
Is ANYone using a Theremin as a modular controller ???
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morbius



Joined: Feb 12, 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:40 pm    Post subject:  Is ANYone using a Theremin as a modular controller ??? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm pretty sure that there has to be a few people out there who are using a Theremin as a contoller for their modular... just like using a ribbon-controller. I'd be interested in hearing about this because I've been considering doing it.

I see using the Theremin as a controller on my modular for many things... studio or live-gig. Just think about using it to control stuff... like the speed of sequencers and sample/holds... filters... or even to trigger a patch-change for presets (yeah, I know... a foot pedal)(I already do that). But I can see using it for many more things than just oscillator pitch and the gate for the VCA's EG. (I really like to find secondary uses for all my modules... like a 960 is a fantastic sequencer, but it can also be a dandy frequency divider, among other things).

I don't live very far from Asheville, NC, and I attended Bob Moog's funeral service in August 2005. Between seeing the Thereminists who performed there, and the ones who performed at the first MoogFest, I would like to try using one as a controller for my modular... and, if I got good enough, perhaps use it 'as an instrument' (the way it's meant to be).

I realize that the Etherwave Pro has the the CV and Gate outputs, but the $1,500 + price tag kinda puts me off... at least, unless or until I get good enough where all of you guys will pay real money to hear me play, (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk)

I must be the only synth-dude on the planet who doesn't particularly like Paia stuff. Anyway- I'm thinking of the standard Etherwave, and modifying it with CV and gate jacks. Has anyone done this, and if so, what are the details that would be good to know in advance?

Any other advice or suggestions?

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I did. In 1979 I finally got a kit DIY theremin thingie working and it had all these nice CV outputs. I used it with several modulars and I liked what I could do with it. The battered kit went missing sometime around 1985 though. I have been thinking about getting some Theremin kit again. That said, I don´t have any true analog modulars at the moment, so I guess this will have to wait. Some day.. but not soon..
Very Happy

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morbius



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
I did. In 1979 I finally got a kit DIY theremin thingie working and it had all these nice CV outputs. <snip> Very Happy


So- what brand was it? Paia?

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think it was pretty much like the Paia, but it was made by a small british business-in-a-shed company. The synthgeek rags were full of ads for DIY projects like this one. One of the better known companies was Phonosonics. I built several kits from them, among these was their step sequencer. But the Theremin was not from Phonosonics. I am sure of that.
It had several weird features that almost worked. One of these was a "gate" which went on when the cicuitry figured out it received some kind of user input and went off in a rather sloppy way when user input stopped. It had a "sensitivity" trim pot for this. I imagine I still might have some of the instructions somewhere, but I have no idea where to look. I have mountains of old boxes with silly stuff in them.

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morbius



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Aww... don't go thru any trouble.

One of these days, I'll get off of my lazy a$$ and just drive over to the Moog shop. I had a standing invitation from Bob to come over some Sunday, and do nothing but shop-talk and play. But, he was always so busy, and out of town a great deal because of the Moog movie... and then he got sick.

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Mohoyoho



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Is it easy to add CV outs to a standard Etherwave?
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ian-s



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Mohoyoho wrote:
Is it easy to add CV outs to a standard Etherwave?


A conventional Theremin uses two RF oscillators, one fixed, and one with an antenna in its tuning circuit. They both run in the MHz range so small changes in the frequency of one produce beat frequencies that span a good chunk of the audio range. The sound you hear is the beating after the oscillators have been mixed and the RF signal has been removed, so there is no CV as such to tap into.
The volume antenna signal might be a better bet, but that depends on how it is implemented.

The Paia Themax kit seems to have everything you want, and at less than $100, it has to be a bargain. That velocity output is a great idea, adds another degree of expression.
I’m not sure I like the wooden case though; I would go for a sputnik look, mounted on an old spring arm desk lamp.
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richardnixon



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm currently working on a patch for my Nord Modular G2 which utilizes a theremin for control. The audio output of the theremin is pitch tracked by the G2 and the resulting pitch control signal is used to control the oscilators in the G2 (3 so far). There is also an envelope follower on the theremin signal so that the expression of the volume antenna is maintained. I have also made use of the G2's expression pedal input and have patched that to the filter control so I can produce sweeps with my foot. Of course there's also a good helping of FX as well.

So far it's working quite well, but I've had to simulate a theremin with a simple tone generator since my theremin hasn't arrived yet; 2 week backorder Crying or Very sad.

I'd like to add a few more things to the patch too, such as a pitch quantizer to make it a bit easier to play for the beginner as well as use this in some conjunction with the G2's midi send modules in order to translate the theremin's pitch to MIDI as well. When it's done, I'll be posting it in the Nord G2 section of the forums here, but I'll link it on this thread as well.

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richardnixon



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As promised, here is the patch ( I gave up on the theremin-pitch-to midi stuff...without pitchbend info it just doesn't sound right).

http://electro-music.com/forum/post-83402.html#83402

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zipzap



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
so there is no CV as such to tap into.
The volume antenna signal might be a better bet, but that depends on how it is implemented.

How should it be? VCA+ antenna to cv circuit i guess. I thought about it, but all the shematics i´ve seen seemed useless to my knowlege, you told us the reasons.
Maybe you have a shematic? Or know one of a theremin working with a vca, where the cv-antenna-circuitry could be "ripped out"?
Would be very cool!
When you perform live having some antennas is a great way to play the modular with other people at the same time. You can plug them where you want to, and your drummer can come over and jam with you on the synth, without him touching it with his sticky fingers.
cheers
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deknow



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

at one point a few years ago, tom g (efm) had a board for pitch to voltage. my recolection is that it was a bob moog circut, that was layed out by harry bissell, produced by tom, and with bob's blessing.

i don't see it in the current catalog at efm
http://ele4music.com

but harry talks about it here:
http://elists.resynthesize.com/synth-diy/2000/02/778852/

again, i have had the paia for years, and decided that the theremin isn't as good a controller as 2 knobs (knobs stay where you put them, a theremin goes to zero or 11 when you walk away from it).

i have one of those boards kicking around here somewhere....

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zipzap



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, i don´t wan´t to discuss if it´s good or if it isn´t. It´s certainly different than anything else!
But about your critic: Two ideas come to mind. Use of some cv processing circutry to determine where it goes back to, in witch direction it works and how fast it reacts.
2. Use of a footswitch and a sample and hold to freeze the theremin.
This way you can also get stepped voltages.
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deknow



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...aside from the "gee whiz" factor, i don't believe that there is anything particularly unique about using a theremin as a controller...i say this having played theremin for years (in the lothars), and having interfaced it to other synths. twisting 2 knobs is just as effective for me.

most theremin performances are only impressive because they are played on the theremin (there are 1 or 2 really good players out there).....if you heard that kind of intonation in a singer or on a violin it would be considered horrible, and no one would ever consider what comes out of most theremins as acceptable intonation for their synth.

yes, you can do all kinds of processing and adding foot controllers in a modular system...but in the end, all you are doing is offloading the function of 2 knobs to the theremin. as a visual stunt, it can be effective, but already overused imho at this point.

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Mohoyoho



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think it would be great to have a Theremin with CV outs. Having the Theremin going through some Moogerfooger pedals while the CV outs are modulating some of the controls on the MFs would be wild; especially the MuRF and/or the ring mod or Low Pass filter.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Mohoyoho wrote:
I think it would be great to have a Theremin with CV outs.


This document tells you how to modify the Etherwave Theremin to have CV outs, among other things. A good read if you have one of these or are considering getting one.la

http://www.moogmusic.com/manuals/HotRodEtherwav.pdf

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zipzap



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thank you
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ian-s



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hotroddingEtherwav.pdf wrote:
Thus, as the player brings his left hand near the volume antenna,
the volume control voltage decreases, the VCA gain decreases, and the audio output signal goes from loud to complete silence.


I've never played a theremin but I always imagined it worked the opposite way, max volume at minimum distance. Embarassed

The volume CV hack looks easy Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

g2ian wrote:
I've never played a theremin but I always imagined it worked the opposite way, max volume at minimum distance. Embarassed

I thought the same, and when I got mine I thought the first thing I was going to do was reverse it (fairly easy mod explained in the manual) but it feels very natural as is.

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Budgrubber



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I worked on the "Hot Rod Your Etherwave" CV circuits for a while. I asked around in the Thereminworld forum and the moog forum. Apparently no one has ever gotten that circuit to actually work. If anyone ever does I would love to hear how he or she did it. I scratched my head over that thing for weeks before I decided to put the Etherwave back in its case and forget it. It would be great if someone (much better at this then I am) had a PCB made of this circuit.
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