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The theremin was invented in 1928 and was one of the first electronic music instruments. It works without touching the device, relying on sound frequency to make sounds. Now, a former punk rocker is teaching young students the tricks of the trade for playing the theremin.
Briton John Otway shot to fame during punk rock’s heyday, when his single "Really Free" reached 27 in the UK singles charts in 1977 and has been a regular fixture in the music scene for the past 30 years.
Now, he’s showing students at his former stomping grounds, the Grange School, how to play the unusual instrument.Otway himself never had any training with the instrument, but knew how to play it instantly. He says it’s all about hand-to-ear co-ordination.
The musician stands in front of the instrument and moves their hands or indeed their body in the proximity of two metal antennas. The distance from one antenna determines frequency (pitch), and the distance from the other controls amplitude (volume). Most frequently, the right hand controls the pitch and the left controls the volume, although some performers reverse this arrangement.
Students learned about Otway’s musical talents ahead of meeting the man himself. They enjoy learning how to control the unusual musical device.
Taylor Ness, student, said "It was enjoyable because it got us involved and we had a go ourselves and it was fun and he made it all lively and not boring at all."
Otway predicted that while he may have reached near the top of the musical charts in the Seventies, he predicts the theremin’s days are not over.
John Otway, Former punk rocker, said "The Theremin will come back because it’s such a visual instrument, one does look remarkably cool playing a thermion, which you don’t if you are just playing the keyboard or something like that."