The Theremin- Did You Know It?

Very often background musical compositions receive little attention unless these pieces of music have a signature sound, rhythm or are unusual in nature.

Perhaps, one of the most unusual, dramatic sound heard as background music is the theremin.

Did you know when you heard the spooky background music to the 1995 movie Batman Forever you heard a theremin?


The History of the Theremin

The eerie theremin sound has a very early history. It was invented in October 1919 by Russian physicist Lev Sergeyevich Termen. In the western world he became known as Leon Theremin from which the instrument’s name originated.

To present his invention, he demonstrated his invention to packed houses all across Europe for a lengthy tour. He moved to the United States and appropriated a patent for the theremin in 1928.


The Most Unmistakable Musical Sound

In addition to the Batman movie, the theremin has been a basic necessity for several other movies that include:

. The Lost Weekend in 1945

. The Alfred Hitchcock “Spellbound”in 1945

. Forbidden Planet in 1956

. Ten Commandments in 1956

. Bartleby in 2001

. The Machinist in 2004

In the film, The Lost Weekend, Composer Miklós Rózsa used a theremin’s electronic sound woven throughout the film. He intended to draw attention to the movie’s protagonist alcoholic by using the theremin to underscore the extreme degree of the alcoholic’s self destructive and suicidal nature. The theremin sounds punctuated the need to take viewers into the depths of the protagonist’s actions.

Theremin Musical Genres

Although many individuals initially align theremin compositions with spooky and eerie movie and TV programs like the BBC’s Midsummer Murders and Disney’s Loki. TV’s Dr. Who and The Big Bang Theory also infise the theremin sound for best effect.

However, the theremin has also been used in concert music such as 20th ad 21st century new age musical compositions and avant garde concert presentations.

It has also been a popular musical addition in the rock genre. Top name bands that used the theremin include, Led Zeppelin in their recording of Whole Lotta Love, Rush in BU2B and Rolling Stones in 2000 Light Years From Home.

Did You Know It? – The Theremin is the Most Difficult Instrument to Learn

It takes about 10,000 hours to become a master expert thereminist. It is the most difficult musical instrument in the world to learn to play and to become proficient. There are many other interesting subjects like the theremin to be found on to discover and enjoy.