What Was That Instrument The Beach Boys Played on During “Good Vibrations” at the 2012 Grammy’s? It’s called an Electro-Theremin – also known as a Tannerin. Wikipedia has a nice summary:
… developed by trombonist Paul Tanner and amateur inventor Bob Whitsell in the late 1950s to produce a sound to mimic that of the theremin. The instrument features a tone and portamento similar to that of the theremin (or thereminvox), but with a different control mechanism. It consisted of a sine wave generator with a knob that controlled the pitch, placed inside a wooden box. The pitch knob was attached to a slider on the outside of the box with some string. The player would move the slider, thus turning the knob to the desired frequency, with the help of markings drawn on the box.
Differences Between Theremin and Electro-Theremin
In a nutshell, Theremin’s determine pitch based on proximity of your hand to a pitch antenna. Because the Electro-Theremin uses this slider system which has visual reference points along the slider, it’s much easier to consistently hit the note your going for – while still sounding theremin-like.
Here are two good articles I found that dig even deeper into the differences.
First is this page by Tom Polk.
Next is this page by Theremin World.
Brian Wilson on Theremin and Tannerin
Tom Polk has two page you might be interested in:
Here is a recent interview with Brian Wilson on Theremin.
Anyone Still Making These?
Want to Hear Some Theremin-Like Music?
- Checkout the weekly show and podcast Spellbound: A Brief Program for Theremin
- Here is a soundcloud set of some my songs that feature that Theremin sound
More Links Related to Electro-Theremin
- Electro-Theremin Posts on Theremin World
- The Paul Tanner Electro-Theremin Page
- Tom Polk Electro-Theremin Page
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Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician & Multimedia Artist | Sr. Systems Analyst | Founder of the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup