April 2019 - Dan Burns

The inaugural episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features theremin music from the USA, Germany, Peru, England, and France. Rick Reid's interview guest is Dan Burns, the founder of Burns Theremins, a theremin manufacturer based in Conyers, Georgia, USA. 

  • "Pantone" - James Bohn (New Bedford, MA, USA)
  • "Playing Theremin is My Madness" - Everling (Annaberg-Buchholz, Germany)
  • "Anómala" - Veronik (Lima, Peru)
  • "Sue-a-Rat" - Nachtsmeer (Manchester, England)
  • "Angel Wings" - Beat Frequency (Croxley Green, England)
  • "Therexotica" - Voolva (Paris, France)
*The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances.

  • This episode is dedicated to the memory of David Vesel, host and producer of the "Spellbound" streaming radio show for theremin fans and musicians. David is greatly missed in the theremin community.
Copyright 2019 Rick Reid



David Brower  00:04

This is Theremin 30. Thirty minutes of theremin music, events, and information, with a new episode about every 30 days. Now here's your host from Denver, Colorado, USA, Rick Reid.

 Rick Reid  00:17

Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of Theremin 30. Every month we'll feature theremin music mostly from unsigned artists around the world who have all graciously provided their recordings to play on this podcast. Hopefully, they'll still be so gracious after they hear my feeble attempts at pronouncing some of their names and song titles. We'll also take a look at upcoming theremin concerts, workshops, and festivals around the world. And we'll chat with a special guest. This month my guest is Dan Burns, the founder of Burns Theremins based in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Now let's get right into the music. Coming up in about six minutes, we've got some mad music by German recording artist Everling. But first, here's a colorful composition called "Pantone" by James Bond from New Bedford, Massachusetts. 

 Rick Reid  10:27
That was Everling from Annenberg-Bucholz, Germany, with "Theremin is My Madness." I think that's an appropriate song for this show. And we started off the set with "Pantone" by James Bond. We have the web links for all of the artists on our website at Theremin30.com, Theremin30.com. If you enjoy what you hear on the podcast, please support the artists by purchasing their music and attending their performances. It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar of events. There are a bunch of great theremin-related concerts, workshops, and festivals coming up in April and May. Here are just a few you may want to check out. New York-based thereminist Rob Schwimmer is on tour in the UK throughout the month of April with the Mark Morris Dance Group production of Pepperland. It's a modern dance performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Sergeant Pepper album by The Beatles. Performances are also scheduled for Brooklyn, New York, in early May, and for Costa Mesa, California, in mid-June. Meanwhile, Carolina Eyck has a busy schedule of concerts and workshops in both Europe and the US this spring. She will also be playing theremin in several performances of The Little Mermaid ballet in San Francisco, beginning April 19. And Dorit Chrysler will be performing once again at Moogfest, which runs April 25 through the 28th in Durham, North Carolina. You can get the details on these events and many more by clicking the calendar of events link at Theremin30.com. Also a brief TV note: you can stream Steven M. Martin's wonderful documentary film Theremin: an Electronic Odyssey this month on Amazon Prime. Our next recording comes to us from Lima, Peru. It's the title track of the Anomala album by Veronik. 

 Rick Reid  15:13
There's more music to come on the Theremin 30 podcast, and we'll visit with the founder of Burns Theremins. So stick around. 

 Rick Reid  15:44
Remember, you can find links to all of the artists featured on this podcast at Theremin30.com. Up next we'll hear the experimental stylings of Nachtsmeer from Manchester, England. This track is called "Sue-a-rat."

 Rick Reid  19:02
Our special guest this month is Dan Burns, founder of Burns Theremins. He joins us via the magic of the internet from Conyers, Georgia. Dan, thanks for being on Theremin 30. Let's start by having you tell us about your company and how it got started.

Dan Burns  19:18
All right, the company is SoundsLikeBurns.com and I started making theremins actually when I was a kid, and later discovered that people were interested in them. That's really how I started making theremins and selling them because I'd make theremins and people wanted them and I'd put one up on eBay and people would buy it and they'd like it. So that kind of got the whole thing going. I think it's well over 15 years that we've been selling theremins.

Rick Reid  19:47
Give me an overview of your product offerings.

 Dan Burns  19:50
Alright, so we have like six different models. It ranges from theremins that just are single antenna, pitch-only theremins to theremins that have both volume and pitch. And they range from a desktop model we call the Great Sounding Theremin, which is a pitch-only theremin. We also have the Zep Theremin, which is the type of theremin Led Zeppelin used. 

Rick Reid  20:14
So the Zep Theremin is a pitch-only? 

Dan Burns  20:16
Yes, it is. It's a pitch-only, and it's in the style that was used by Led Zeppelin. So it, it has a mount on it and mounts on the top of a mic stand. 

Rick Reid  20:25
And so it's really designed for a guitarist to play with one hand. Is that the idea?

 Dan Burns  20:29
That's correct, so the guitarist will often just play it with one hand or swing the neck of the guitar in and out of the theremin field and play it that way. And all of our theremins, I might mention plug into guitar amplifiers. So output levels that are equivalent to the level of an electric guitar, so you can plug our theremins into any electric guitar amplifier and you can also use effects pedals that are used by guitarists to affect the sound of the theremin. 

Rick Reid  21:00
A lot of people want to be able to take a theremin where they don't have a way to plug it in. You have the one handheld battery-operated theremin. 

Dan Burns  21:08
Yes, we have the Handheld Theremin. It has a two-inch built-in speaker so you can take it anywhere and play it. But you must touch it with one hand while you're playing it. Because when you push the button on the front of it, it grounds the theremin through your body. All theremins mostly need a ground of some sort. And this provides the ground capability. So you can take it, hold the theremin in your left hand, let's say, and play it with your right hand and also push the button on and off as you're playing it to accent notes. Then we have the B3 Theremin which is a theremin with pitch and volume antennas which is in a plastic case. And then we also make a model that's in a wooden case that's called the B3 Deluxe, which is a longer case. And then we also make the Pro Theremin which is also in a wooden case with very fine woodworking on it. And that's the theremins we make and sell.

Rick Reid  22:04
Are there any touring acts or recording artists we may have heard of that use your theremins? 

Dan Burns  22:08
Yes, there is quite a number of them. One that comes to mind is Lez Zeppelin which is an all-girl Zeppelin band. Also, Tesla is famous for using one of our theremins on a song about Nikola Tesla. 

Rick Reid  22:31
Where can people learn more about Burns Theremins? 

Dan Burns  22:34
So you can go to SoundsLikeBurns.com or BurnsTheremins.com and look at the complete line of theremins we make and sell. Also, you can go to eBay or Amazon and find our theremins for sale. 

Rick Reid  22:50
Thank you very much. 

Dan Burns  22:51
All right. Bye-bye. 

Rick Reid  22:53
And speaking of Tesla, they are on a US tour throughout the month of April with more dates in the US, Europe, and Canada later in the spring and summer. There's a link to their website on our website, Theremin30.com. Let's get back into the music now with UK experimental thereminist Beat Frequency and an ethereal track called "Angel Wings."

 Rick Reid  29:01
We finished that set with French recording artists Voolva and their appropriately titled recording "Therexotica." And before that, we heard from Beat Frequency, based just outside of London, England. You can find out more about both of these artists and all the musicians featured on this podcast by following the links at Theremin30.com. And be sure to watch for the May episode. It will include the music of Victoria Lundy from her Miss American Vampire album, plus more events and conversation about all things theremin. I'm your host, Rick Reid. Thank you for tuning in.

David Brower  29:48
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin30.com.