January 2020 - Gordon Charlton (part 1)

The January 2020 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features music from Spain, USA, and the UK. Rick Reid's interview guest is Gordon Charlton, author of "The Beat Frequency Method: Theremin for the Sonic Explorer." (Part 2 of this interview is featured in the February 2020 episode.)


"Now I See" - Monelise (London, England, UK)
"Cefalù" - Modulador de Ondas (Vigo, Spain)
"Moon Cheese" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)
"Quasimodyne" - Nachtsmeer (Manchester, England, UK)

*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.


"The Plummeting Man" - Beat Frequency (Croxley Green, England, UK)
"Playing with Knives" - Beat Frequency (Croxley Green, England, UK)
"Hadal Zone" - Beat Frequency (Croxley Green, England, UK)
"Opera Glasses" - Phlogiston Theory and Ron Allen (Denver, CO and Seattle, WA, USA)
"Time Shadows" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)
"No Static at All" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)


Gordon Charlton, author of 
"The Beat Frequency Method: Theremin for the Sonic Explorer."


"Planeta Theremin" by Modulador de Ondas - clear vinyl, CD, free download




Visit the Theremin 30 Calendar of Theremin Events for links and details of events mentioned in this episode.


Theremin 30 Playlist



Copyright 2020 Rick Reid


This transcript was created with speech-to-text AI. It may contain several errors until it can be manually corrected.

David Brower  0:04  
This is their man 3030 minutes of theremin music news events and interviews with a new episode about every 30 days. Now here's your host from Denver, Colorado, USA, Rick Reid.

Rick Reid  0:19  
Hello and welcome to the leading and possibly only regularly scheduled podcast for therapists and the people who love them. In this month show I've got music from Spain USA and the UK and my special guest is Gordon Charlton, author of the beat frequency method there have been for the sonic explorer let's get started with music from London England based recording artist Monalise from her new hauntology album she provides both vocals and theremin on this lovely track, Now I See.

We started that sent with the British singer songwriter thereminist Monalise, and a song called now I see from her new album hauntology Be sure to check out the music video for now I see on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. After that I played a track called Stefan Liu from the Spanish group. My doula door they owned us. It's from the planeta Theremin album. The name of the group translates to English as wave modulator. It's a studio project, Apolo Pascoe, and in its live performance lineup, medulla Dordogne desk features Paulo on guitar Theremin with Monika Raina Montesinos on cello and Luxo posts on theremin. If you're into vinyl, you can buy plein air to Theremin on a very cool Limited Edition LP. It's pressed on clear vinyl and the entire album is also now available as a free download. I'm not sure how long it will be available for free, so be sure to follow the link in this month's show notes to get your copy. It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events. Every month we take a look at some of the concerts and workshops happening around the world. On Wednesday, January 8. Cornelius loi headlines the music I instrumentalists show at the Slipper Room in New York City. On Friday, January 12. Victoria Lundy will be performing in the Zodiac free Arts Lab West show in Lafayette, Colorado, the New York Theremin Society hosts the day of workshops on January 18. Andrew Levine takes a mini tour of the US this month was stops in Georgia, Florida and New York and the three day Theremin Academy Loes en gets underway in Switzerland on January 31. For information about all of these events and more, go to Calendar dot theremin thirty.com And if you have an event you'd like on the calendar, send me a message through the Derman 30 website or the Facebook page.

Right now I'm going to feature some of my own music. This is a track I recorded fairly early on after getting my first stereo and and at the time honestly I couldn't carry a tune on the Theremin to save my life. So what I did was I recorded some kind of random theremin phrases and played them back as samples from a Korg K oscillator. This track also features the gesture controlled Elise's air synth. And this stylus controlled Deb Rex stylophone I call this song Moon cheese

That was Moon cheese from my flow just in theory album, Moon cheese and other delights. By the way, if you have an interest in stylophones, be sure to check out my blog about them at stylophone museum.com. I'll include a link in this month's show notes.

After the break, I'll be visiting with Gordon Charlton, author of the beat frequency method. There are men for the sonic Explorer. So stay tuned.

When I got my first theorem at about a decade ago, I looked into the videos and books and websites that taught the basics of theorem and performance with the idea that I would learn the rules and then hopefully develop my own style of playing. And a lot of what I found ways of playing with German with some degree of precision that you'd need to play classical music or more conventional pop music. One of the resources though, that I found it took a whole different approach. It really made me appreciate the full capacity of Sonic expression that you can get with a theorem and when you employ non traditional ways of playing and creating music. That resource was a booklet I found online called the beat frequency method: Theremin for the sonic explorer. I'm very happy to have the author of that booklet, Gordon Charlton as this month's special guests. Thank you so much for being on the Theremin 30 podcast.

Gordon Charlton  17:28  
It's a pleasure, Rick.

Rick Reid  17:29  
you have been a big influence on my learning process for playing the theorem. And can you kind of give me a background first of all how you got introduced to the theremin.

Gordon Charlton  17:37  
I kind of stumbled for settle in last randomly Google found a shopping hole Tasmania made them kitengela At a price I could afford the moment I saw it, I just knew I had to have one. And once I saw later one arrived in the post, what I did discover within about three seconds of owning it was playing in tune is really hard. And I have to admit, particularly Sony didn't help it not at all linear and the volume control was basically on and off. But I had missing and I was going to make what I could have it

Rick Reid  18:17  
so then how did you the one to develop your own technique for flying.

Unknown Speaker  18:22  
I have no particular musical background. So I started researching music, really upon music theory and such like and also considering what came naturally to be instrument seemed to be a bit of an oddball instrument. It doesn't sit comfortably, most of the time in an orchestra. I gotta say that people who can do that, so impressed with them. It's more like bagpipes or a didgeridoo. It's its own instrument. And did we do some fantastic when you're playing? Did we do music? You know, bagpipes are ideal for bagpipe music, Doctor good in an orchestra perhaps. So I'm studying what is Theremin music and whatever natural capabilities of the instrument with a gun to inform how I play

Rick Reid  19:13  
that introduces one of the ideas from your paper an extra dimension to the way you move your hands.

Unknown Speaker  19:19  
Yes. Because it's not just about putting your hand in a certain place. It's how you move your hand from one place to another.

Rick Reid  19:25  
And that's something that doesn't come up in any of the other methods that I've learned about at Sala one dimensional sort of thing.

Unknown Speaker  19:32  
Yeah, it's not a part of music theory, but I've been able to find

Rick Reid  19:37  
your method seems to be at odds with a very large camp that says the Germans only for playing classical music and the precise pitches.

Unknown Speaker  19:48  
I disagree with that. I don't disagree with it can be absolutely beautiful. Played using classical methods. But a lot of music I listened to isn't lost. I searched through lots of things on actually understand about music and I really get industrial music. When I had my first Throbbing Gristle album, just I totally saw what they were doing. And it had nothing to do with classical music theory, as far as I could tell was more related to the Art of Noise and the futurist movement. It was a big question for me though, can I abandon playing in tune and still sound good? If you play something which pays no heed to tune whatsoever, then that sounds fine too. Because you you adapt to it. You say okay, this is not intended to be in tune. Let's listen to it for what it is at least I hope that's what people who listen to my music do.

Rick Reid  20:49  
Tell me about some of the little tools that you use with twine

Unknown Speaker  20:53  
you later the foster twill will deal with foster twill First, there's a limit to how fast human hand can create a vibrato. And I wanted to exceed that so you know, was little handheld milk flossers which are like little stick with a twisted wires to go to the end. And wizardry. You stick it you Belk or you coffee and it fluffs up.

Rick Reid  21:23  
IKEA sells them for about $3.

Unknown Speaker  21:25  
Yeah, that's the one if you take one of those and just bend the metal stock a tiny bit. So the flush at the end is no longer central but wobbles from side to side. And you've got the basis of a really fast vibrato there. You hold it with the correct orientation in the pitch field. So the push is moving towards and away from the pitch rod. And it could trill Yeah, we have one is 20. Later, this was something I did at school. I think everyone's done this at school, you hold a ruler against your desk and twine we end it and it goes up and down creates a fun sound. I just happened to have a 50 centimeter metal ruler, which are clamped underneath the volume loop. If I tagged it at the highest extent it would mute the sound. And that will lowest extent it would allow a full volume instead of controlling the volume control with my hand, I would turn that and it would modulate the volume it's demonstrated on the piece for my first album called The plummeting man. Vaughn makes use of fossil fuels and 20 liters.

Rick Reid  22:59  
Now I have a tool inspired by your writing. It's a screwdriver about two feet long,

Unknown Speaker  23:04  
right? The pitch baton because well actually isn't a screwdriver, but it's a long piece of metal with an insulated handle. Yeah, while you're just holding the insulated hand or the presence of a screwdriver in the pitch field, makes no difference. But as soon as you touch one finger against the metal of the screwdriver, that becomes part of the Tobin circuit and pitches determined mostly by the closest thing to the pitch rod which is part of a circuit where you're not touching the metal of a screwdriver that your hand when you are touching your metal screwdriver and the screwdriver is pointing it to pick toward that it's the end of screwdrivers determining the pitch. So you can jump instantaneously from a low pitch to a high pitch by pointing the screwdriver at the pitch rod and just touching the metal portion of it with your finger which again allows us to achieve an effect which is not doable without additional tools. I've got a truck which demonstrates that is called playing with knives.

Unknown Speaker  24:42  
asserting this lipstick knife, rather than screwdriver, and it made for a jokey title.

Rick Reid  24:49  
You know with a traditional composition you've got all these rules and all these pitches and everything and there's a certain way of creating a song and you've suggested drawing from real life experience. Can you explain how that works

Unknown Speaker  25:02  
the first example of this would be a song called hadal. So, with hadal toe this deepest part of the ocean. By this time I was already making sounds which sounded like science, Documentary, Music, or science fiction. So I was looking for interesting place is daily with deepest part of we actually get a strange jellyfish creatures. And you can hear whale song in the distance. In my imagination, at least the ping of submarine sonar, whale song is easy. Just hold a low note and let the echo box to do its magic. And just gently drift up and down in the low scales. Be the sonar ping, just a very quick little movement up in the high range. And again, the echo box will turn it into a big sort of sound. And for jellyfish, I found out with the echo on put my hand in the mix range of the field and just make random quick, strange movements. And it kind of had the right sort of feel. So there must be compositional elements for very simple tune and out to one for a while. I started Sabre be low drone, because the echo will carry that on I can then put another sound on top of it by say doing sonar ping at this point. They go back and reinforced while something a bit and maybe I feel now it's time first a jellyfish to wander past for my field of view. And so on. And after a while you get into a pattern of it, it starts to feel better after a while you start to feel like okay, this song is called on lucky enough and we'll just wind it down.

Rick Reid  27:09  
If you'd like a free download of the beat frequency method, look for the link in this month's show notes. And next month, I'll play more of my interview with Gordon Charlton. He'll be sharing some practical and easy ways to modify your theorem and that might not have crossed your mind. Now we're almost out of time but I want to squeeze in part of just one more track. Here's an excerpt from a recording called Quasimodine. it's from Manchester England-based experimental recording artist Nachtsmeer.

That wraps up the first Theremin 30 podcast of 2020. I want to thank Monalise Modulador de Ondas, Nachtsmeer and myself for providing the great Music in this episode. Also a big thank you goes to Gordon Charlton for being in the hot seat this time around. We'll continue our conversation in the February episode. Also coming up in February, I have absolutely no idea what music I'll be playing. I need you to tell me so if you have an original track that you'd like to play it on the show, contact me through the Theremin 30 website or the Facebook page. Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid. Thank you for tuning in.

David Brower  29:50  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin three zero.com