Free Music Friday: “Control Zone” Electronica Track and Video by Mark Mosher Performed on Theremin and AudioCube

Watch embedded video

One Man, One Theremin, One AudioCube :^) In this video I perform the original instrumental electronic music song "Control Zone" off of my album I HEAR YOUR SIGNALS which you can download name your price (enter $0 for FREE) on
http://markmosher.bandcamp.com/album/i-hear-your-signals. You can of course also buy my songs/albums on iTunes, Amazon MP3, LastFM, ReverbNation, Zune, and as Physical CDs.

Listener/Viewer Notes
markmosher_controlzone_teaser_01
This video is in HD and I captured the audio full fidelity right from my sound card so listen with some good headphones or on a good system and select HD for full-screen viewing. The video and audio were captured in one continuous take with no content edits.

Composer Notes
To fit the back-story of my album, I set out to compose a song that sounded a bit alien in origin. To liberate myself from my typical compositional instrument of the keyboard, I decided to compose and perform the textures and melodies using only spatial controllers. I this case I used a Moog Etherwave Theremin, and a Percussa AudioCube. Once I got going with this notion I really got using 6 dimension of spatial control to go “Hendrix” with the Theremin. The title of the song has many meanings, one of which should be obvious to Theremin fans.

Producer Notes 
I'm routing the Theremin analog signal into Ableton Live and then I convert the the signal from pitch-to-MIDI in real-time. This signal is routed to various virtual instruments hosted in Live. I then use a Percussa AudioCube in Sensor mode to add 4 additional dimensions of modulate in real-time. So 6 dimensions of spatial control. I'm changing the signal routing of the Theremin to route MIDI to different virtual instruments on the fly using the Novation Launchpad.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Celebrating Leon Theremin’s Birthday with Video, Notes, Links, and a Soundcloud Set

image

Leon Theremin (born Lev Sergeyevich Terme) was born on this day, August 15th, 1896. To help celebrate I’m going to do a bit of a stream of consciousness post and will offer some links on Leon and his wonderful instrument and some notes on my use of it. Hang in there till the end of the post as I’ve created a Soundcloud set called “Theremin Action” which is a collection of all the songs from REBOOT and I Hear Your Signals that use that Theremin sound or Theremin as a Controller.

LEON HIMSELF PERFORMING ON THEREMIN
Watch Embedded Video

HISTORY/LINKS

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
As a youngster, I can vividly remember the first time I saw the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. I was captivated by the sound of the Theremin in the film. In a related note, below is a pic I took of a reproduction of Gort last weekend while visiting Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.

iPhone 2010-08 223

According to Thereminvox.com, the Theremin in the film was played by Samuel Hoffmann and Paul Shure for a score by Bernard Herrmann. Thereminvox has a re-posted An interview with Samuel Hoffman from Down Beat magazine originally published on 02.09.1951 called “Dr. Hoffman Tells Whys, Wherefores of Theremin” which is a fun read.

THEREMIN IN MY MUSIC
I started incorporating the Theremin sound in my original compositions before I actually owned a Theremin. I did so by emulating the sound and performance with synthesizers and playing via keyboard. For example, the song “They Walk Amoung Us” from my album  REBOOT is loaded with Theremin lead lines. In my recent album I Hear Your Signals, I composed the song  “Arrival” which has a Theremin sound as the lead instrument in the second chorus. I created the sound using a patch I programmed from “init” with FAW Circle.

I GET A REAL THEREMIN!
In April I took delivery of a real Theremin – a Moog Etherwave. I did an unboxing review about it here.

image

THEREMIN AS A CONTROLLER
While I am learning “classic” Theremin technique, I also began using the Theremin as a spatial controller to control virtual digital synthesizers running out of Ableton Live in combination with Percussa AudioCubes. This combination allows me to control 6 dimensions of sound without touching a knob or dial (volume and pitch from Theremin, 4 dimensions from AudioCubes).

MarkMosher-Thermin-Rehearsal-05

I used the Theremin HEAVILY in the song “Control Zone”. All the pad, lead tracks, and unusual sounding guitar and bell sounds where played in real-time and recorded in one pass with only minimal editing after the fact.

I also used the Theremin as a controller in the song “Dark Signals” to play special effects sounds in various sections of the song.

STILL INTRIGUING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
I’m using a Theremin when I perform live now. It’s just fantastic. I recently played a private event and used the Theremin as a controller and after the show I got a lot of questions about it and some requests to play it. After all these years and advancements in technology, people are still intrigued by an electronic instrument patented in 1928. Clearly, the notion that you can perform music and control sound using spatial movement is still intriguing.

CELEBRATE WITH MUSIC
As promised, here is a Soundloud set with all my Theremin related songs. Happy Birthday Leon! And thanks Bob and Moog Music.
http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fmarkmosher%2Fsets%2Ftheremin-action&secret_url=false
Theremin Action by MarkMosher

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Thereminst, Boulder CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.ModulateThis.com

I Join the Moog & Theremin Communities with My New Moog Etherwave

DSCN2648

Yesterday, I received the last instrumental element of my rig – the Moog Etherwave Theremin. It was actually a gift from my wife and extended family which makes it even more special! I’ve included a few pictures in this post and you can see more over on my Facebook Fan page.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been slowly building out my live rig to add all sorts of interesting visual, tangible, and now spatial controllers. The real power of my rig is that when you combine all the pieces with Ableton Live at the center you can do some amazing things – after lots of practice of course ;^)

The Theremin is amazing and I’ve always wanted one – for many reasons really. First I feel that through the Theremin I’m connecting to the history of electronic music, and to Bob Moog in a way. Second, I’ve always loved the classic use of Theremin in science fiction films. I used a Theremin patch from a virtual synth in the song “They Walk Among Us” and I’m quite excited to use a real Theremin to perform this live. Third, I’ve always been curious about composing using spatial movements of the body. Lastly, I think it will also add an interesting visual aspect to my performances.

I plan to both learn classic Theremin technique, plus go well beyond the classic use of the Theremin by using it’s signal to control other elements in my rig and to heavily process it’s signal. I’ve already started working with it running through Ableton Live and using Percussa AudioCubes to modulate digital parameters that are effecting the analog signal. Very exciting!

DSCN2661

The instrument itself is very solid and beautiful and is quite a contrast to commodity plastic controllers in build quality. I like Moog’s form factor with the Etherwave as well. They’ve done a nice job creating a small but solid enclosure that is lean and functional.

If you’ve not played a Theremin, it’s actually quite challenging. I’m very pleased that Moog included a DVD with two video tutorials by  Clara Rockmore, “the Greatest Theremin Virtuosa” and “Mastering the Theremin, by Lydia Kavina”. Bob Moog also makes an appearance in the video.

DSCN2638

Many, many, many hours of practice in my future with the Thremin. More to come on this including videos of performance and rehearsals. Stay tuned.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician (and now Thereminist)
Boulder, CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.RebootAlbum.com