June 2020 - Urs Gaudenz

The June 2020 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features music from Finland, Japan, Mexico (+Cuba), Switzerland, and the USA. Rick Reid's interview guest is Urs Gaudenz, designer of the Open.Theremin V3.


"It Is OK To Be Sad and Dark" - Kepa Lehtinen (Helsinki, Finland)
"Daze of Quarantine (excerpt)" - Macoto Kikuchi (Kawabe-gun, Hyogo, Japan)
"La Comparsa (live)" - Ernesto Mendoza (Mexico City, Mexico)
"Impulse & Repulse" - Therminal C (Coralie Ehinger) (Lausanne, Switzerland)
"Charlotte's Theme" - Polly Vinyl (Marla Goodman) (Bozeman, MT, USA)

*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.


"Opera Glasses" - Phlogiston Theory (Rick Reid) (Denver, CO, USA) and Ron Allen (Seattle, WA, USA)
"Time Shadows" - Phlogiston Theory (Rick Reid) (Denver, CO, USA)
"No Static at All" - Phlogiston Theory (Rick Reid) (Denver, CO, USA)


Urs Gaudenz of Gaudi Labs is the lead designer of the Open.Theremin V3 theremin, an analog-digital theremin kit build around an Arduino microprocessor.


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


Listen to the complete Havana Moderno "Paisaje Con Sombras" concert by Ernesto Mendoza on SoundCloud.

The Theremin 30 Playlist on YouTube includes music videos and concert performances of songs featured in this podcast.



Copyright 2020 Rick Reid



Please note: This is a machine-generated transcript that has not been manually edited. There will be numerous errors. Check back soon for a corrected version.

David Brower  0:04  
This is Theremin 3030 minutes of Theremin news, 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  
Hey, welcome to the only monthly podcast that I know about that's dedicated exclusively to Thurman's and the musicians who play them. This month we circle the globe for new music from Finland, Japan, Switzerland, the USA and Mexico by way of Cuba. Plus I'll be visiting with or skeletons designer of the open Theremin v3. A very affordable Theremin that you can put together yourself. Let's get the show started now with new music from Helsinki based recording artist and composer Kappa Leighton and here's the title track from his new album. It's okay to be sad and dark.

Rick Reid  8:42  
We started off with it's okay to be sad and dark, the new release from Kappa Layton and then we heard an excerpt from days of quarantine a live improvisation by Japanese thereminist and guitar player, Makoto Kikuchi Makoto. His current four song album of the same name was edited from a series of live performances he streamed online while under Coronavirus, lockdown. To learn more about both of these musicians and everyone on the show, just go to this month show notes at Theremin thirty.com and click on their names. Coming up after the break. I've got a live concert recording from Ernesto Mendoza. So stay tuned.

Rick Reid  9:30  
Now it's time to take a look at the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events. On June 17, Montana thereminist Marla Goodman will be presenting a 30 minute Theremin demonstration in concert that will be streamed on the Bozeman arts live website. In Canada, the flute piano and Theremin students of Alex SHERMER will be presenting an online recital on June 27. Also this month, Mexican thereminist Ernesto Mendoza is hosting a series of free introductory things And workshops on Monday evenings. So if you're a Theremin, beginner or no one, be sure to check out the details about the remaining workshops listed on the June calendar. You can find it at calendar dot Theremin thirty.com or follow the link in this month's show notes. In October of 2019, the Havana moderno project curated by Viviana Ramos hosted a series of Theremin concerts in Cuba featuring tournois Jorgensen from the Netherlands, and Aaron esto Mendoza from Mexico Havana moderno recently posted a recording of Aaron escos concert on SoundCloud. They were kind enough to give me permission to share with you the final song in the show. Here is a fun updated version of La comparsa by popular Cuban classical music composer Ernesto lecuona. First performed publicly in 1912 la comparsa depicts a traditional Cuban Carnival parade.

Rick Reid  15:37  
That was la comparsa performed by Ernesto Mendoza. You can listen to the full concert performance courtesy of Havana moderno on SoundCloud. I've got the link in this month show notes at Theremin thirty.com coming up next style visit with our scout ins designer of the open Theremin v3. So stay tuned

Rick Reid  16:22  
a couple of months ago shortly after the Coronavirus lockdown began here in the USA, I ordered an open Theremin v3 kit from gauti Labs in Lucerne, Switzerland. It's a digital instrument with traditional analog Theremin controls, and it's built around an Arduino microprocessor. Shortly after I got the kit put together, a software update became available that vastly improved sound quality and playability. I liked it so much that I invited its inventor or scout ends to be my interview guests for this month. or so. Welcome to Theremin 30 Hi,

Urs Gaudenz  16:54  
Eric. Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm happy to talk about the open Theremin.

Rick Reid  16:58  
Let's start with what is the open Theremin?

Urs Gaudenz  17:02  
Yeah, maybe I can start a bit from how it even happened. Because I'm part of the Swiss mechatronic art society which is a Swiss society that tries to combine the field of electrical engineering and computer science and art. In 2008. We had actually a do it yourself festival. We do like every year a festival, where we bring people together around music and technical things. At that time we had a tournament exhibition, people would exhibit their retirement instruments. And that's when I first learned about exactly what a terabit was. And then the friend who organized this exhibition asked me like course, there is a lot of people who want to build German instruments from kids, but most of them they don't play well or they don't work. And so he asked me if I could maybe put together an instrument kit that will be easy to build, and that people can just put together themselves and modify and it would work.

Rick Reid  17:50  
So the open Theremin is a digital Theremin Is that right?

Urs Gaudenz  17:54  
When I got this like request for my friend to build it, of course, it was a challenge because I didn't know exactly like how difficult it actually is to build German instruments. And so I thought I would do something in a very traditional way. So I wanted to keep the traditional functioning of the chairman, but I decided to approach it like with a modern electronics way. And so I combined actually this principle of heterodyne insert with with a microcontroller the Arduino, which is a popular open source microcontroller board. And so what came out is the open Theremin which is actually a combination of the very traditional Theremin principle with a modern electronic board.

Rick Reid  18:30  
Are you a musician yourself?

Urs Gaudenz  18:32  
No, I think I will not call myself a musician. I like to play with music instruments and Tinker but I don't even play the Theremin well or at all myself. So

Rick Reid  18:42  
very few people do.

Urs Gaudenz  18:44  
Yeah, that was a challenge. But I got a lot of help over the time because it was an open project and I enjoy a lot the collaboration. I got a lot of help from people actually playing well. The Theremin like there was Coralie air here in Luzon. She is an organizer of the node festival and of the Theremin Academy. And I met her in Switzerland. And I introduced her to the open Theremin at the festival and she liked it. And so little by little, she started to kind of hit me in the right direction, what I should improve and what I should change because I was not aware because I didn't even really play it. And so she was becoming kind of the lead player of the instrument and gave a lot of very important kind of hints on how I should change it so that it's really becoming a playable music instrument and a good Theremin.

Rick Reid  19:29  
Now, what is the term open mean and open theorem and

Urs Gaudenz  19:32  
what I do I have a lab here in Lucerne. It's called goudy Labs. And that's a lab where I do open research is kind of open science research. So I like to explore things and share it with others in an open way. Part of it is like what is called Open hardware. So that's electronics that we develop also in the society, and that we share openly like so everyone can access the file, everyone can access the software and everyone can also participate in the development or in the change of the product and So the open Theremin was from the beginning on designed to be shared openly so that all the plans are on internet on GitHub. And so people can download it, they can see how it's built. And they can of course, build it themselves. And they can also change and modify the software.

Rick Reid  20:15  
So people can add features to it control voltage output or something like that.

Urs Gaudenz  20:20  
Yeah, exactly. Actually, there has been over the years and how many people that have contributed important parts of it, as I said, already, just like orally airing out helped me to make it playable with features. And there have been people also modifying the electronics, adding this auto calibration that automatically adapts to different antennas. There have been people that just reworked the code. So they made it more clean, because I know how to program but I'm not a very clean program, as far as people completely re wrote the codes to make it more clean. And just recently Terry Frankel, musician, and Theremin expert, he contributed this improved volume response. So he was actually teaching a workshop on open Theremin. And he saw that the pitcher 10 is very linear and good to play. But the volume antenna is not good if it's linear, because you need to have exponential response. And so he contacted me and he said, he will do this modification. And he sent me the code and he said he completely rewrote the code for the volume part. And now it's become much better and much more responsive. Now, I

Rick Reid  21:24  
assembled one just a few weeks ago, and I had heard about your instrument a couple years ago, I think. And I was hesitant to get one because number one, I'm not very good at soldering, and I was worried about ruining it if I bought one. And second was I didn't entirely understand how you use it once it was assembled. Because I usually would see pictures of it connected to a computer. So I thought it had to be wired into a computer by USB at all times. And it turns out that's only to update the firmware in the Arduino.

Urs Gaudenz  21:57  
Yeah, exactly. As it kind of started out of this mechatronic art society where a lot of engineer and electronic geeks are also active, it's still kind of on the more geeky end of the Theremin properly. But on the other hand, as I said, it's open and it can be modified by people who know how to do this. Over the time, I tried to move it a bit away from very difficult that's why the board becomes pre assembled and there is an instruction how to do it. It started to be more than music instrument for electronic people. And now more and more it gets adopted also by people who primarily want to have an instrument to play or like an entry level German instrument. I'm also continuously trying to make it a bit more easy to understand and easy to put together. So that's part of this evolution. Also,

Rick Reid  22:43  
the tambour knob actually gives you several preset sounds How did you come about those sounds is that a new feature that's only in the new software,

Urs Gaudenz  22:52  
these sounds are actually generated by the microcontroller There is also the possibility to change the sound so there is like eight wave tables. This is kind of digital description of audio waves that can be uploaded from the computer to the Theremin and it comes with a standard set of eight that sounds a bit like a sine wave or like a cello but it can be freely changed there is on the website the download for software where you can even draw by hand or on the computer your own wave function and then upload it to determine so there is some work to do but on the other hand, there is a lot of flexibility and a lot of things that can be done. This is

Rick Reid  23:30  
one of the less expensive Theremin is available. Although you have to do a little work yourself. This is a really good first Theremin for someone who wants to get into the instrument.

Urs Gaudenz  23:39  
It's good also for teaching, there is workshop like Jerry Frankel and Coralie they're organizing in the Theremin Academy workshop where people can together build it so to make it easier to those who haven't built it also, I always try to keep it entry level and affordable.

Rick Reid  23:54  
So how can someone buy and open Theremin from you?

Urs Gaudenz  23:57  
I have a small webshop goudy shop.ch and it's also on eBay or on Tindy or on Etsy so I I tried to put it a bit on different places too, so that people can find it if they want and they can order it from the store they prefer.

Rick Reid  24:12  
So thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me about your instrument. I really am enjoying playing it and I look forward to other inventions from gauti Labs. Yeah,

Urs Gaudenz  24:21  
super. Thank you. Thanks.

Rick Reid  24:24  
Now let's listen to a little sound sample. Here is Coralie a injure performing on the open Theremin v3, accompanied by the sound effects from an old school video game.

Rick Reid  25:00  
You looks like we have time for one more song. Bozeman, Montana recording artists Marla Goodman plays Theremin, ukulele and guitar on this documentary soundtrack recording called Charlotte's theme.

Rick Reid  29:11  
This month's 30 minutes is almost up. I want to thank Kappa Leighton, Makoto Kikuchi and Ernesto Mendoza, Corley a ginger and Marla Goodman for allowing me to share their music with you. Please support them by visiting their websites and purchasing their recordings. Also a big thanks to Oris Gaussians from gauti labs for being my interview guest this month. If you have Theremin music you'd like me to play in the July episode or if you have a Theremin related event album or product you'd like to discuss, contact me through the Theremin 30 website or the Facebook page. Until next time, I'm your host, Rick Reid. Stay safe everybody.

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