September 2020 - Mike Beauchamp

The September 2020 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast features music from the UK, Brazil, Japan, and Canada. Rick Reid's interview guest is Mike Beauchamp, designer of the Therevox electronic musical instrument.


"A Rare Request of Theocentric Heaven" - Alexx Mazonowicz (Birmingham, UK) 

"1972 (version 2)" - Andmo' (Kawabe-gun, Hyogo, Japan) 
"Teia" - Teia (
São Paulo, Brazil
"Live @ Eastern Bloc 2017/07/03" -
Pat McMaster (Montreal, QC, Canada)


"Opera Glasses" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA) and Ron Allen (Seattle, WA, USA)

"Time Shadows" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA) 
"No Static at All" - Phlogiston Theory (Denver, CO, USA)
"Therevox and Red Panda" - Mike Beauchamp, Mark Calcott, David Bergeron
"Therevox ET-4, Ableton and EH 2880 Synth Jam" - Martin Schiller (Windsor, ON, Canada)
"Untitled Therevox Improvisation" - Chris Koltay (Detroit, MI, USA)
"Vocalise" - Mark Calcott (Windsor, ON, Canada)


Mike Beauchamp is the designer of the Therevox electronic musical instrument. Learn more on the  Therevox website and Instagram page. 


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


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 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 18th episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, the only monthly Theremin music podcast in the entire world at least until somebody convinces me otherwise. In this September 2020 edition. I've got new music from Brazil, the UK and Japan and my special guest is Mike Beauchamp, designer of the Thera box electronic musical instrument. Let's get started now with thereminist Alex mehsana Vich with a wonderful track he produced just a few months ago in his home studio in Birmingham, England. This is called a rare request of theocentric heaven

Rick Reid  9:45  
We started that set with music by Alex Musonda Vich Alex compose produced and played all of the instruments on a rare request of theocentric Kevin. Then we heard a single edit of a new track called 1972 by the Japanese band and him Oh, featuring say, oh Rico Jima, Makoto Kikuchi and guest musician, so Tarot Kiera, you can watch antimo were formed the full length version of 1972 in the Theremin 30 playlist on YouTube. coming up soon I've got experimental music from Brazil. And later in the show I'll visit with Canadian instrument designer Mike Beauchamp so stay tuned.

Rick Reid  10:36  
Now it's time to take a look at the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events. Lydia Cavanagh continues her weekly online Theremin workshops every Sunday from Oxford, England. Andrew Levine has a bunch of live performances scheduled for mid October in Hamburg, Germany, and a band we heard earlier in the show and mo will be performing at the Big Apple and Kobe, Japan on Halloween night October 31. For details on all of these events, follow the links at calendar dot Theremin And to get your Theremin related events on the calendar and mentioned in the podcast, send me all the details through the contact form on the Theremin 30 website or on the Facebook page. Now let's listen to some fascinating experimental music by the Brazilian duo Taya. This track is also called Taya which means web in Portuguese

Rick Reid  16:30  
That was Taya featuring thereminist Juliet elisse and vocalist Ynez teta from their current album, which is also called Taya, and can be downloaded from bandcamp. You can learn more about Taya and all of the artists that appear on this podcast by clicking on their names in this month show notes at Theremin After the break, I'll visit with my special guest Mike Beauchamp, designer of the Thera box electronic musical instrument, so stay tuned.

Rick Reid  17:16  
In the olden days before the pandemic, I used to use my vacation time to travel to a few different music conventions and trade shows. One of the coolest instruments I got to try out at a couple of the events was the Thera box. The Thera box is made in Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada, which is not far from Detroit, Michigan. its inventor is Mike Beauchamp and he is my special guest this month. Thank you so much for being on Theremin 30.

Mike Beauchamp  17:41  
So happy to be here Rick sights man.

Rick Reid  17:43  
A few years ago, I was at mcg best, and I saw one of your instruments called the Theravada ox and I was really fascinated with it. Can you tell our listeners what is a Thera box

Mike Beauchamp  17:53  
This box is an instrument that I've been making for a really long time. The current model that you saw at moogfest is sort of my interpretation of an own Martino mixed with a classic synthesizer say like a Korg, Ms. 20, or Mini Moke. The unmarked uno is playing with your finger through a ring that's connected to a string, and your finger is underneath sort of like a mock keyboard that has divots for each semitone. So you're moving the pitch by moving your finger to these divots. And underneath your left hand is a touch sensitive piece that moves up and down and it controls the amplitude that's sort of equivalent to like what your left hand would be doing with a Thurman but it offers sort of like a squishy resistance. So you're not just moving your finger but you're pushing down harder and harder to make the sound go louder. And on the third box, specifically, I have two of those and two separate oscillators. So you're playing two voices at the same time and one of them can be disconnected from the ring. So it can be like a preset pitch. So it doesn't always have to follow the ring and it can sort of play accompaniment or bass notes at the same time.

Rick Reid  19:02  
Now how does the their evox relate to the Theremin besides the similarity in names,

Mike Beauchamp  19:09  
so I guess that's what I'd have to go back to the history of it. Probably back in the 90s I was playing like an indie rock band. And on stage I had a single antenna thirimanne I believe I got it from a company called Thoreau maniacs and was mostly kind of using it for sound effects at the time through like a tape echo. As I got more familiar with it, I was sort of starting to play more melodic small sections and quickly realizing that it's a very hard instrument to play. Well sort of trying to play guitar at the same time. There's too many things moving around. So it's very hard to get pitch right. So I kind of abandoned that. And then on Saturday Night Live I think it was I saw Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead playing and this was I think, just when QA came out, what I didn't know at the time he was playing an on Martino. All I saw was a shot of him making a very sermon like sound But his finger was in this metal ring. And he was moving his finger on this mock keyboard and pointing to the notes he won. So, you know, I had no idea what that was. So I went down into my parents basement, and probably in the next year, I started building sort of what I thought this thing was. So I took like an old function generator circuit. And I took a washer from a hose, the little green plastic washer, and that's what I put my finger around, and I put some string around it and I had this instrument that did kind of what I needed it to do. And so I guess that's why I called it a thorough Vox because, you know, I was going for the voice of a Thurman. I'd say that was maybe 2001. And I put it up on my personal website at the time, and I had gotten an email from somebody and he ran a website that was dedicated to the instrument, the electro thirimanne. Are you familiar with that one,

Rick Reid  20:52  
Rick, Paul Tanner, I think made that for the Beach Boys.

Mike Beauchamp  20:56  
Yeah, so after he messaged me, then I sort of had an idea for him. I'm like, Wow, so there was an instrument. It's a continuous pitched instrument. So then I started building things more similar to Paul Tanner's electro Theremin and that's sort of when the name thermo hawks kind of stuck because it made sense. So probably for the first 1012 years I was building small batches for people mostly in Beach Boys cover bands of one off electro Thurman's, then I stopped doing it or in 2007 and then I started learning about the en Martino and then I sort of went back to the original bring design and then came back to the on Martino sort of interface because I do think that made more sense compared to potaters electrode Theremin,

Rick Reid  21:42  
the Onde Martenot and the Theremin although they were developed independently at roughly the same time period, they both use hetero dining to create their sound. Did you incorporate that into your instrument

Mike Beauchamp  21:55  
is definitely one of the things that I tried because of the accuracy required on the own Martino I just found the the stability over temperature and overtime just wasn't there unless you sort of retune the instrument pretty regularly. So I went with a more traditional analog VCO type circuit that you find in like a synthesizer from the 70s.

Rick Reid  22:18  
What does the Thera Vox sound like?

Mike Beauchamp  22:22  
thermoblock sounds very sort of ethereal, angelic. But then it can also sound scary as hell. One person sort of described it as being able to do with the sound of a like air raid siren. When you do hear in films like The Handmaid's Tale, it's sort of just this pitchy dramatic reverb drenched, you can play it in a way that can sort of make things sound like they're not going quite right. That's the amazing flexibility that you have with an instrument that is a continuous pitching. You're not constrained, you know, but it can also be played just beautifully in vocally. And again, sort of similar to

Rick Reid  23:15  
what is the 85 model that you're working on

Mike Beauchamp  23:18  
the 84 I designed in 2010 2011. And I've been making that for eight or nine years now as sort of collecting feedback from people that use it over time on little extra features that they thought that it should have. Last year, I went to California and got to meet with some customers there. And while I was talking to them, I was sort of making notes of all the suggestions that they had with this instrument. And on the flight back, I think all six or seven hours, I was just scribbling away in my notebook with ideas for this instrument. And I came back this year, and I'm in the process of finishing up the first prototype, it's very similar to the 84. It's just every part of the deform is being sort of reconsidered. And it's being improved if there's a way to improve it. Small things that didn't get used by people are being removed in favor of new features that people have suggested that I think they're going to use. And the idea is to sort of just take what the 84 was, but to just continue it And further it and make it better.

Rick Reid  24:18  
Now, is this something that I can just walk into a store and buy? Or do you make the instrument as they're ordered?

Mike Beauchamp  24:24  
since I've started making the 80 fours, there's always been a waiting list. And sometimes it's been short, where if somebody needs one right away, I can get it to them within a month. But we have had to deal with a few stores. Noise bog in Los Angeles carries them when I do have stock so you can order them directly from them when I do have enough available for them.

Rick Reid  24:44  
So if somebody is interested in purchasing one of your instruments, and you've got this 85 in the works, can they get on a new waiting list for the new instrument right

Mike Beauchamp  24:52  
now I'm taking names for the 85 waiting list and I'm also sending out an email to everybody every month or so. So to kind of let them know how the developments coming and asking for feedback, and they can just go to Theremin, they won't see anything about the 85 yet, but you can just contact me through there. And you can see all the details for the 84 to kind of give you an idea of what the instruments are and what the price ranges are and what kind of features there are.

Rick Reid  25:18  
That's th e r e

Mike Beauchamp  25:23  
Exactly. The other thing I want to mention to Rick, I'm gonna put up on our Instagram page, a copy of the book. I have it right here. It's called us conductors. Have you heard of that book?

Unknown Speaker  25:32  
I have.

Mike Beauchamp  25:33  
I think your listeners would really like it because of the sermon content. So I have a copy of this. I've read it. It's an awesome book, and I'm gonna put it up on Instagram for your listeners. And if they want to just drop their name in the comments. I'll pick a one to win the book and I'll mail it out to them.

Rick Reid  25:50  
Oh, that sounds great. Thank

Mike Beauchamp  25:51  
you. The Instagram page is Thoreau evox Hq that's th er e Vo x underscore HQ. Mike, thanks

Rick Reid  25:59  
so much for coming onto the podcast to tell us about the Thera box.

Mike Beauchamp  26:03  
Yeah, thanks, Rick. I really appreciate it.

Rick Reid  26:06  
To learn more about the Thera box and to follow Mike's Instagram account for a chance at snagging that book you mentioned follow the links in this month show notes. Unfortunately, we don't have time to squeeze in another full song. So I'm going to finish out the show with an excerpt from a live improvised performance by Thera box player Pat McMaster, you can watch the video of his full performance on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist.

Rick Reid  28:44  
And that is all the time we have for this September 2020 edition of the Theremin 30 podcast. I want to thank Alex mehsana Vich Taya and mo and pat McMaster for sharing their music. And of course, Mike Beauchamp for telling us all about the Thera box. Coming up in the October episode we'll get into the Halloween spirit a bit with music from Simon Beck, the divine hand ensemble, and maybe you if you've got an original Theremin recording you'd like me to play in the podcast, contact me through the Facebook page or the website. And if you've been enjoying the podcast over the last year and a half, I would really be grateful if you would recommend it to your friends. I'm trying to decide if I want to continue the show after the Theremin 100th anniversary wraps up at the end of this year. helping me to attract a bigger audience and more Theremin recording artists would be an effective way to twist my arm. You can also drop a small gift in the virtual tip jar on the website. No tip is too small or too big for that matter. Until next time I'm your host Rick Reid Remember to wear a mask in public and try to keep people out of your control zone.

David Brower  29:51  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin three