“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played on a 1929 Theremin


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/27/somewhere-over-the-rainbow.html


Beautiful, though it doesn’t fully displace my impression that the Theremin sounds like a drunk violin.



Love. It.



Entirely correct, and entirely part of its beauty. I’m going to go get mine out right now.


That was therepeutic.


You need to listen to Pamelia Kurstin. She makes the Theremin sound like a drunk bass.


Not sure. I googled “go home violin you’re drunk” and landed here


Don’t start without me. I love the theremin.


Wow! An 87 year old instrument - that you play by not touching it - wasn’t worn out? Who’d thunk it?


I recently read Us Conductors, which introduced me to the quite-amazing story of Leon Termen. I never realized how the theremin was lauded as the next musical revolution, showcased throughout Europe and the US, played to packed concert halls and Cernegie Hall. Termen/Theremin became a New York socialite, hanging out with Gershwin, Rachmaninoff and Glenn Miller, is eventually recruited as a Soviet spy, and later sent to the gulag.

I had thought much of it fiction, especially how the theremin was received in concerts, and had to look it up to find that the story is basically all true (though perhaps still exaggerated to some extent).

(The writing itself is so-so, and Termen isn’t especially likable, but the book was worth it for the story.)


I loved Us Conductors. I bought it when it first came out, and read it while stranded in Minnesota. It was good enough to make being stranded in Minnesota bearable.

A lot of the book was true. He hobnobbed with a lot of famous and influential people, and the Russians offered to pay him to use his combination of social status and technical understanding to social engineer classified info from defense contractors. Then the Russian government fucked him over and he spent several years in the gulag. After he was released from the gulag, he was indeed tearfully reunited with Clara Rockmore. However, he was not really a Kung Fu master who killed two men with his bare hands, and his improving the quality of life in the Gulag seems highly exaggerated to me.

I thought Theremin was likeable enough without twisting the story further to make him more likeable. Also, for a first novel the writing was pretty good, and the story made up for whatever flaws were in the writing.


You’re drunk, violin, go home!


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