The Theremin is one of the earliest electronic instruments,
and is played without ever physically touching it.
with two antennas, the primary operator is the electrostatic
coupling between the player and the instrument's electrodes.
When the hands of the player enter the electrostatic
field, changes in pitch and volume occur. The left side
controls the volume, and the right controls the pitch.
It was nvented in the 1920's by Lev Termen.
The Theremin's sound enjoyed
cult status in many sci-fi movies of the 1950's, being
used for spooky sounding effects, but virtuoso's like
Clara Rockmore refused to play in any those soundtracks,
because she played the Theremin as a "serious classical
instrument" and felt it demeaned the instrument.
The Theremin is still
used today in movies, and by a number of musicians,
and has undergone a new resurgence, used by bands from
Led Zeppelin to Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, and also
played in more traditional styles.
His last protégé,
and grand-niece Lydia Kavina is now one of the
leading classical Thereminists today.
While finding an original vacuum tube RCA Theremin is
nearly impossible, more modern Theremin's are manufactured
One which closely captures the classic Theremin
sound, along with other features, is the late Robert
Moog built homemade Theremin's in
his teens, and later created the famous Moog synthesizer
in the 1960's.