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    Theremins

    I want a kitschy theremin sound that I can plug directly into my recording interface. It's a toy so I don't want to spend too much.

    Is there any reason why I should NOT buy this one?

    https://www.amazon.com/Great-Soundin...xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==
    Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

    #2

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      #3
      Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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        #4
        I'm the only Theremin guy here IIRC. I use one (well I use "theremin", explain in a bit) for my solo projects. Usually to back my Hammond B3 in moderation. I usually pan it too to create sound scapey type movement stuff. Usually it's best in an ensemble context to use it in extreme moderation to add an eerie feeling.

        I haven't bounced anything out to post here in a long time, but here's something demo quality I've had sitting around for a while. Comes in at like 40 seconds ish.



        VSTs though, I've had actual Theremins and done a kit. What you have to understand if you've never had one is that they only function as solo instruments for all but like, 2-3 of the worlds top players. It's incredibly hard to hit the right pitch. Imagine trying to hit in tune pitches on a fretless instrument like a violin and then imagine doing that in thin air.

        I actually switched VSTs I've been using since then. That one is one of the Strezov ones, I've been digging the Soundiron one lately. You need Kontakt for either obviously.

        If you have to get a physical one Moog is the way to go. The one you linked is shit. The Moogs aren't that much more. That's probably what like, 90% of the reviews on that Amazon page are going to say.

        If you want to actually use it with other instruments and have it be in tune/in key with the piece, you need a VST or a theremin inspired synth. It's not an ensemble instrument. The precision just isn't there. Even the people who are incredibly precise know that, pieces are usually solo theremin or slow and sparse with minimal accompaniment.

        Whenever you see a physical one used in rock it's always to add like, a repetitive simple sound effective. That's how Joe Bonamassa uses it in the ballad of the john henry. No one has the kind of precision to actually harmonize with other instruments on the physical unit.

        As a long time fan of theremins I will also tell you straight up that some of the really cool theremin sounds aren't actually theremins. Theremin inspired synths. Some of the the classic sounds are actually theremins but the really cool bit is something else on top of it. Often a ring modulator. The same goes for Hammond B3 actually. Actually getting into B3 sucks, it sounds like shit at first, you have to realize guys like John Lord have other stuff going on for that Perfect Strangers tone. He has his own custom ring modulators that make it sound like that.

        The inspired synths are their own thing as well. They operate on the same principle of the interesting part of the sound being the gliding jumps between pitches. You can't program them like other monophonic synths. The actual melody is the difference/space between the drone note and the jump notes.

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          #5
          Wow thanks for all that! I'd only fucked with a theremin before solo, so I didn't consider getting it to work in an ensemble would be a pain in the ass.

          I do not have Kontakt, but I'll start searching around for a VST.
          Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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            #6


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              #7
              https://adammonroemusic.com/theremin...remin-vst.html
              Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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                #8
                I would skip the standalone ones. Never used that one, I would use a high quality library for Kontakt instead of a standalone VST, but most are programmed as follows. Whether it's a theremin vst or a theremin inspired sound. SoundIrons is good, and cheap too, might even work in the free version of Kontakt and not the expensive one. https://soundiron.com/products/theremin

                You also are better off if you know the "trick" of doing it. Most people give up on the theremins, either physical or vst, because they don't realize you always have to be moving for a gliding sound.

                Excuse the quick screenshots.

                This is what people think you do for a monophonic melody, because that seems like it would make sense. Theremin is a monophonic instrument, it's not polyphonic.



                Not only does that not work, it sounds like shit. You have to program it like this.



                That's why if you watch someone physically playing a theremin, they are almost always starting at a different pitch and jumping/gliding/sliding to the actual one they want to sound. That's the "theremin sound". It's a very legato instrument. The sound isn't actually sounding notes as much as gliding in the distance between notes if that makes sense. Your baseline drone you are jumping from can be higher too, or in the middle somewhere, or whatever.



                Some of the more basic VSTs have weird programming where the sort of drone note they are jumping from is preprogrammed as part of the patch. That one might. Dunno. Never used it. The faithful ones that are meant to be faithful recreations or match the vibe have to be done like that though.

                It actually clicks pretty easily once you know how to do it. Theremin is monophonic though. The actual ones and the synth recreations can't sound two notes at the same time, so the way you have to program it is very counter intuitive. I don't know how the one you linked operates though. All the super legit ones work like that. Some of the free stuff on KVR rules, some isn't so great, so I say try it at least.

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                  #9
                  Pro....gram??? I'm going to play this with a keyboard. Fuck 100% of MIDI editing.

                  Thanks for the tips though. They are bound to come in handy.
                  Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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                    #10
                    Just grabbed the free version of Kontact to mess with.
                    Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by zepp View Post
                      Pro....gram??? I'm going to play this with a keyboard. Fuck 100% of MIDI editing.

                      Thanks for the tips though. They are bound to come in handy.
                      Once it clicks it clicks. They basically operate on some of the same principles as the digitch whammy. So just think of it like that if you've ever played one of those. Where you are doing a massive octave spanning slide from one note to another. Like I said, a lot of the "that is so weird, is that that theremin thing?" sounds aren't actually theremins. The sound is all in the operation.

                      I play them from a keyboard too. Operation is the same. Just keep the key you want to glide from depressed and sound the melody with your other hand. You have to clean them up though. Anywhere you hear it in time with other instruments playing something even somewhat basic it's usually dubbed in. The gradual attack makes it hard to sort of jam with things. It's not that gradual, but gradual enough that it will throw you off.

                      You unfortunately can't do it well on a Midi pickup, the only way to do it on guitar is big slides from the 3rd fret to the 14th or something like that to get the big gliding sound.

                      The theremin sound is actually 100% the technique. The actual tone of the instrument is an extremely basic waveform. The sound is 100% in the gliding technique. It's very much a standalone thing though. Hard to play in time with other stuff, because the attack isn't instantaneous. It sort of envelopes in. That's why whenever you see them in a rock context you'll notice it's only during super sparse parts and they are sort of there independent of everything else.

                      You also NEED fx. Every plugin recreation comes with them. It sounds like shit without them. The theremin sound is the FX and the technique involved in operating it, the actual waveform produced is very basic. You need chorus/delay/reverb/whatever.

                      Obviously the classic Sci Fi sound is space echo or echoplex. There are loads of plugins for those. I like UAs Space Echo plugin, but if you don't have UA stuff there are a bunch of other good ones. In terms of hardware units, the Dunlop echoplex pedals also kick ass.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by zepp View Post
                        Just grabbed the free version of Kontact to mess with.
                        Make sure if you buy anything it works with the free version of Kontakt. Many libraries require the full version.

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                          #13
                          Waiting for the work day to end so I can mess with this

                          I am working on a track that just fucking NEEEEEDS theremin. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get the hang of.
                          Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by zepp View Post
                            Waiting for the work day to end so I can mess with this

                            I am working on a track that just fucking NEEEEEDS theremin. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get the hang of.
                            It's a massive pain in the ass to use with anything else. Once you actually get into it you'll sort of see that when you see it in rock it's 100% for the spectacle of having the obscure instrument. It's almost always a super repetitive thing they could have just used as a sample or done with a digitech whammy or whatever. But you look like a magician doing it.

                            Most of the cool sound is in harnessing the rhythmic note division echos with an octave effect. If you see it live you'll almost always notice if you pay attention the stuff being done on the theremin is super basic and the bits doing all the heavy lifting are the FX. But the spectacle is so cool you don't care.



                            There's a reason it's an obscure thing that never caught on though. There are a huge number of ways to do the same thing. Most people can't tell the difference between an actual theremin and one of these bad boys coming soon to a keyboard near you as a standard feature since like, fucking decades ago, the bit of more practical reliable tech that made the theremin obsolete.



                            The principle on which is works is basic enough that a lot of good keys players can just do the whacky theremin thing with a pitch wheel and clever modulation.

                            I love em, the sound is cool, the spectacle is cool, they were historically rather important, etc. What they can actually do is pretty limited though. So don't get your hopes up too much.

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by Greg McCoy View Post

                              It's a massive pain in the ass to use with anything else. Once you actually get into it you'll sort of see that when you see it in rock it's 100% for the spectacle of having the obscure instrument. It's almost always a super repetitive thing they could have just used as a sample or done with a digitech whammy or whatever. But you look like a magician doing it.

                              Most of the cool sound is in harnessing the rhythmic note division echos with an octave effect. If you see it live you'll almost always notice if you pay attention the stuff being done on the theremin is super basic and the bits doing all the heavy lifting are the FX. But the spectacle is so cool you don't care.



                              There's a reason it's an obscure thing that never caught on though. There are a huge number of ways to do the same thing. Most people can't tell the difference between an actual theremin and one of these bad boys coming soon to a keyboard near you as a standard feature since like, fucking decades ago, the bit of more practical reliable tech that made the theremin obsolete.



                              The principle on which is works is basic enough that a lot of good keys players can just do the whacky theremin thing with a pitch wheel and clever modulation.

                              I love em, the sound is cool, the spectacle is cool, they were historically rather important, etc. What they can actually do is pretty limited though. So don't get your hopes up too much.
                              Yeah, I mean, I'm going to use this thing 100% for the kitschy sci-fi spooky effect, rather than doing something more unique with it. It's just a cool sound.

                              I still kinda want a real one too because they are so cool.
                              Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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                                #16
                                Originally posted by zepp View Post

                                Yeah, I mean, I'm going to use this thing 100% for the kitschy sci-fi spooky effect, rather than doing something more unique with it. It's just a cool sound.

                                I still kinda want a real one too because they are so cool.
                                Try one of these if you haven't already if you are interested in exploring those kinds of sounds. Heavily manipulated Mellotron flute with distortion and FX is awesome. I had one in my rig for a while. Very cool.



                                I used it for shit with this kind of vibe.



                                I actually prefer pedal steel to theremin for a really spooky legato vibe. Unfortunately I don't play pedal steel.



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                                  #17
                                  I love the song "Lunatic Fringe"

                                  I have not tried that pedal before. Neat.

                                  I really want one of these space flutes

                                  https://www.roland.com/us/products/aerophone_pro/
                                  Leon Today at 7:59 PM: Ripping farts is heaven

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