December 2021 - Urs Gaudenz and Thierry Frenkel


In the December 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays music from the USA, the Netherlands, and Canada. Rick's interview guests are Urs Gaudenz from Gaudi Labs and theremin luthier Thierry Frenkel, collaborators on the new Open Theremin V4. 

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.


*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. 







Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 



David Brower  0:04  
This is Theremin 30, thirty 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  
Hey there, welcome to the Theremin 30 podcast for the month of December 2021. I'm sorry I didn't release an episode for November but I just got too busy with some of my other projects. So hopefully you took the opportunity to go back and listen to some of the past episodes you may have missed. I also want to mention that I had a birthday shortly after I released the October episode, several listeners and thereminists from around the world gave me a very nice surprise. Without naming anyone in particular, I want to thank everyone who made it such a fun birthday for me. I really appreciate your support and your friendship. Speaking of fun, I think I've got some really fun theremin music to share with you this month from the USA, the Netherlands, and Canada. And now visit with two special guests: Urs Gaudenz and Thierry Frenkel. We're going to talk about the new open Theremin version four. Let's get the music started now with a pair of tracks that show the wide range of possibilities the yheremin presents. In a couple of minutes we'll hear music from Thorwald Jorgensen, but first up thereminist Aileen Adler is featured in a new release by Destroyer Creator, the music project of Austin, Texas based recording artist David Coloma. It's one of the shortest and loudest songs to ever be in this podcast series. And it's appropriately titled "Theremin Metal."

Rick Reid  8:44  
We started the show with "Theremin Metal" by Destroyer Creator featuring Aileen Adler. Then we calm things way, way down with Thorwald Jorgensen and pianist Kamilla Bystrova and their arrangement of "Valse Triste" by Jeann Sebelius. You can see music videos for both of these songs on the Theremin 30 playlist on YouTube. There's a link on the Theremin 30 website. Thorwald has a couple of concerts coming up soon. I'll tell you all about them in the Theremin 30 calendar and get out your crayons for a new track by Stephen Hamm. That's after a quick break.

Rick Reid  9:28  
We take some time out of every podcast episode to look at the Theremin 30 calendar of theremin events. Carolina Eyck will be performing Kalevo Aho's "Theremin Concerto" in Krefeld, Germany, December 7 through the 10th. On December 11, Thorwald Jorgensen performs with percussionist Peter Elbertse, in Hilversum, Netherlands. On December 21, Saori Kojima will lead a couple of introductory theremin workshops in Kyoto, Japan, and Thorwald Jorgensen will take the stage again on January 2 in Hoge Zvaluwe, Netherlands. For details about these events and more, check out the interactive calendar on And if you have an event you'd like me to put on the calendar send me all the details through the website Twitter or Facebook, Vancouver BC Canada's psychedelic thereminist Stephen Hamm has a fun new tune with an even funner - is that a word? funner? I say it is - an even funner promotion. When you buy his new Theremin Man coloring book you get downloads of this single and two other tracks as a bonus. Here is Stephen hamm with "Galactic Man."

Rick Reid  14:03  
That was Stephen Hamm's new single "Galactic Man." You can get that song and two more tracks when you buy his new mini coloring book at Stephen will host a Theremin music and coloring party on December 16 at the Lido in Vancouver. There's a link to more details on the Theremin 30 calendar. I've got a holiday classic from Armen Ra later in the show. And up next, I'll visit with Urs Gaudenz and Thierry Frenkel about the new Open Theremin version four, so stay tuned.

Rick Reid  14:52  
Gaudi Labs in Switzerland recently released the Open Theremin version four, one of the most affordable and versatile theremins available on the market. I ordered one as soon as it was announced, and I've had a great time playing it. A couple of weeks ago I visited with its lead designer, Urs Gaudenz, and a key collaborator, Thierry Frenkel, from their homes in Switzerland and France. Urs and Thierry, welcome to the Theremin 30 podcast. 

Urs Gaudenz  15:18  
Hi, thanks for having us.

Thierry Frenkel  15:20  
Thanks for the invite. 

Rick Reid  15:21  
I've had Urs on the show before talking about the open Theremin v3. But now you've got v4 that just came out. What inspired the new version of your theremin?

Urs Gaudenz  15:32  
There have been versions before v3 as well. So it's kind of a project that evolves. And it also changed over time. In the beginning, it was really just an experimental circuit, then it became kind of a standalone circuit and then combined with the Arduino, and now it got independent of the Arduino. So it grew out of the Arduino board shields design and now became kind of standalone instrument.

Rick Reid  15:56  
Thierry, you've been involved with the firmware quite a bit in both v3 and the new version.

Thierry Frenkel  16:01  
I thought when I bought my first v3 that it was a beautiful design. And it worked well for engineers, but it had a lack of musicality. And so I decided to rewrite parts of the firmware to improve the firmware to make it more musical, especially on the expression on the volume side, because there the control wasn't what it could have been. Furthermore, for the v4, I added all the software which was needed to make the additional hardware, the new outputs for volume and pitch CV, working.

Rick Reid  16:40  
One thing that surprised me about the v4, because I just bought one a few weeks ago, is that I didn't have to solder any parts. I'm not very good at soldering, and the v3 required about 40 or 50 different soldering points. So I was thrilled to be able to open up the box and have a working theremin within a few minutes. 

Urs Gaudenz  16:58  
In the beginning, it was kind of a more electronic hardware project. And I thought it was interesting for people to do some soldering and to do some programming. But I noticed that more and more in going to music community where people are not so familiar with soldering and programming. And so with the integration of the Arduino, it kind of was I think, at the point to give up the hand soldering and do it all as a working instrument. For the v3 already, I saw that a lot of people prefer building nice cases, building different knobs, different designs. So this is still possible. I think there is plenty of do it yourself opportunity in the instrument without having to do the solder joints that you mentioned,

Rick Reid  17:35  
one of the ways that it can be expanded or modified involves the Eurorack synthesizer format. Can you tell me more about how that works?

Urs Gaudenz  17:43  
Usually, when I do a new version, I invite the designer and in this case for version four, it was Peter van der Beek, a Danish designer, and he didn't know much about the terramin before, I think so he was just looking around and making up his mind about the design. And then when he proposed the design of version four to me, I said that looks really much like a module for a modular synthesizer. And he didn't design it really like that. But I said like, if it really looks so close to a module for a modular synthesizer, he should have the right dimensions because otherwise people will try it and will be annoyed. So then we decided, okay, let's do it and fit it into this format. And I think it fits pretty well. And what was funny to me, which I only realized later that actually kind of we switched from the Arduino community now to a modular synthesizer community. And while it, of course still mainly is sold as a independent or a standalone instrument, I think there is potential combining it with modules and integrating it even in a modular system.

Rick Reid  18:39  
Thierry, can you tell me about the CV output feature? I know that you've been working on some mods with that.

Thierry Frenkel  18:46  
After we had the hardware which was added in the v4 design, naturally, someone has to add the firmware parts to make use of this additional hardware. What I did was at first a lot of mathematics and calculus to get reasonable values out of the CV outputs corresponding to the current pitch and volume of the theremin. And they are, as you might perhaps know that it is different standards, especially for pitch CV. There is the Mook standard which is one volt per octave. And there is the Korg standard which is 800 hertz per volt. But I implemented both. You can select between both by recompiling the firmware with the different file switch, but the default value is the Moog setting, the one volt per octave. It has become in the meantime, much more common than the other standard. It's very difficult because it's a logarithmic standard to calculate in real time, logarithmic values on a small embedded microprocessor in Arduino style, so I had to do a lot of approximation, rounding, and all that to get a CV values out, but that works for the moment. The only glitch we have actually is when you go very low and playing beyond five octaves below the highest playable note. But I promise to fix that.

Rick Reid  20:14  
So the firmware is updatable, then fairly easily. 

Thierry Frenkel  20:18  
Yeah, you connect it to your computer USB port. And you can load the new source code from GitHub, and can compile it and upload it as if it were an Arduino processor.

Rick Reid  20:31  
I had great fun using the CV outputs. Last week, I got a cable that would connect it to my Moog Werkstatt. So I have one of the smallest theremins available in the world with one of the smallest synthesizers available in the world. And they worked really well together. It was a really good matchup.

Thierry Frenkel  20:48  
Thank you. It's because I tried to get very close to the Moog standard for the CVs. 

Rick Reid  20:55  
What sort of feedback have you received so far from people who bought the open Theremin version four?

Urs Gaudenz  21:00  
I was surprised like that it was well received. You know, whenever you do a new version, it's quite nerve wracking to see like if everything works if the production works if people like it, and if it also works on the user side or on the community side. And so I was happy for that. And then I also visited Coralie, Ehinger. She is kind of the lead user for the Open Theremin, the lead musician. I go visit her to test and discuss about like where the project should go. And she was really, I think, happy about the new implementation of the two control voltage outs. And I also had kind of her playing in mind because she, over the years developed a new way of actually playing the theremin by combining the classical theremin sound with new synthesizers, or with more synthesizers in the back. So instead of just using the theremin as a controller kind of enriching the traditional sound of the theremin with effects from the synthesizers. And so with the implementation that Thierry mentioned, it worked really well from the beginning. And so I'm really excited also, to see more people experimenting with this kind of playing like playing the audio combined with control voltage together.

Thierry Frenkel  22:04  
it just works and people are happy with it, because he did an excellent hardware design, which is stable, which is robust. So everybody is satisfied. We have users around the whole world from Europe, US, South America, even Asia. We have the guy that there in South Korea, who is posting almost every day a new video showing his progress on the Open Theremin v4. 

Rick Reid  22:29  
Oh, and remind us again, why you call it an Open Theremin. What does the Open part of that name mean?

Urs Gaudenz  22:35  
Well, still, now, of course, the version four as well as the earlier versions is completely open source. That means the hardware and the software is available on GitHub and on the website. So you can look at it, modify it, reprogram it, as Thierry mentioned, change or improve the code. On one side, this is called Open Theremin for this open source aspect. And on the other hand, also for the open community. As Thierry just mentioned, there is people around the world getting together around this project. And I think it inspires people to see the theremin in a new way to appropriate it, to make their own case, and now combine it maybe with modules from the modular synth community. And I think that's one part that I always liked about the Open Theremin project is this kind of community of people contributing and participating.

Rick Reid  23:22  
Now if somebody wants to purchase the Open Theremin v4 from the Gaudi Labs website, they're going to find that there are actually two versions of it available. What's the difference between the two? 

Urs Gaudenz  23:32  
One is more like the plain vanilla which I tried to keep the cost low. And the other is more like with USB-C cable and a nice stand that can change in height and more nice knobs and the cover for the back. So that's really just more convenience and aesthetics. But even with the cheaper version, if you get your own USB-C cable, you're ready to play, and antennas are included.

Rick Reid  23:52  
I was thrilled with the v3 and v4 is even better. So I'm really excited to hear how people around the world are going to be using your instrument over the months ahead.

Urs Gaudenz  24:03  
I think with Thierry we have some more ideas of what we could do in the future. 

Thierry Frenkel  24:07  
Let's say v4 is not the last one. Okay?

Urs Gaudenz  24:09  
Yeah, exactly. 

Rick Reid  24:10  
Thank you so much for being on Theremin 30. It's good to visit with you and, we'll see you again soon. To learn more about Urs and Thierry and about the new Open Theremin version 4 follow the links in this month show notes. Now let's finish this December episode with music from the Theremin Christmas album by Armen Ra here is the traditional French carole "O Holy Night."

Rick Reid  29:14  
And that puts a bow on another episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. I'm so grateful to Destroyer Creator with Aileen Adler, Thorwald Jorgensen, Stephen Hamm, and Armen Ra for sharing their wonderful music, and for my special guests Urs Gaudenz and Thierry Frenkel. Also a special thanks to the listeners who support the show with small one-time and monthly donations. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season filled with lots of theremin music, and that we all have a very happy and healthy new year. I will see you in 2022.

David Brower  29:50  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at

Bonus Episode - October 2021 - Veronik entrevista

In this bonus episode, October 2021 interview Guest Veronik answers Rick Reid's questions in Spanish. Veronik is the producer and host of Magica Escuela de Theremin, a series of short, Spanish-language instructional videos for people who would like to learn how to play the theremin. Listen to the regular October 2021 episode to hear the full show and interview in English.

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.





Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 



Tenga en cuenta que esta transcripción se generó con IA de texto a voz. Puede contener varios errores de ortografía y puntuación y otras inexactitudes hasta que tengamos tiempo de hacer correcciones manuales.

David Brower 00:02

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

Rick Reid 00:20

Hey, there! This is Rick Reid with a bonus episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. Since my October 2021 guest Veronik talked about her Spanish-language theremin lesson videos on YouTube, I thought Spanish-speaking listeners would enjoy hearing some of her answers in Spanish. I only know a few words in Spanish, myself, so I didn’t shorten her responses like I normally would because I don’t entirely know what she is saying. I hope you enjoy esta entrevista. Veronik, thank you for being on Theremin 30.

Veronik 00:54

Hi Rick. Thank you for inviting me.

Rick Reid 00:57

I invited you on this show because I wanted to find out your history with the theremin, first of all. How did you get involved with the theremin?

Veronik 01:05

inicios con el tenim. Yo ya tenía tiempo tocando porque yo empecé a tocar cuando era muy chica.

La de los once y doce años. Yo y había escuchado mucha música clásica cuando era pequeñita, pero los once empecé a tocar la flauta. La flauta fue realmente mi primer instrumento y en esa época yo vivía en Francia, en París. Toda mi adolescencia la pasé haya. Entonces me puse a estudiar flauta primero dulce, luego flauta, atraverse del Conservatorio y me gustaba mucho esto de estudiar música hasta que me aburrí.

y me aburrí de la presión del Conservatorio y aprendí y descubrí el rock. Y entonces empecé a buscar más cosas sobre el rock y mi sueño de repente se convirtió en tener mi banda de rock y tocar la guitarra eléctrica y lo logré hacerles. Tiene los dieciocho años. Me convertí en cantautora y componía mis canciones y cantaba y tocaba la guitarra y estaba por producir mi primer disco solista.

Cuando conocí el theremin por casualidad, Cuando llegó a mí. El la película del documental es para mí de electrónico, dice Termin una noticia electrónica de Steve Martin. y la película era increíble y lo primero que pude ver fue Clara rock humor tocando el theremin. Y es esto me me pareció tan increíble que comprendí como se tocaba.

El tiene mi Hasta entonces sólo lo conocía por el sonido que era este cliché de instrumento terrorífico. y solo o después de ver la película entendí que era un verdadero instrumento electrónico y dije Simplemente necesito esto en mi vida. Yo voy a aprender a tocarlo. Así que necesito esto ya. Y en una semana investigue todo lo que pude.

Me pedí mi primer Tenim por IBI un Edelweiss estándar. y empecé a tomar mi lecciones con un Thomas Grillo y sus vídeos en Youtube y y era en tiempos de Máis Peyser en otras épocas. Pero así empecé. Era mucho más difícil de lo que parecía. Todo se movía. Todas las notas se movían y bueno, qué bueno. Al cabo de un mes, como los músicos ya me conocían en el medio, me llegó mi primer trabajo en mi primer reto.

como Tele ministra, que fue grabar unos arreglos de Theremin para el disco de unos amigos, Los protones, que era una barca, una banda de soul folk. me fui al estudio a grabar y esos fueron mis primeros inicios como como termin istas. Y así fue como empecé y hasta el día de hoy sigo tocando.

Rick Reid 03:48

The next thing I wanted to ask you about is your current project that I think is really fun. You're doing a series of lesson videos on YouTube in Spanish, and I think it's called something like Magica Theremin Escuela, which I think means “Magic Theremin School”?

Veronik 04:08

mi proyecto, la mágica escuela determinen en empieza en con unas ganas de difundir el tee mi mi idioma es español porque bueno, yo ya tengo mucho tiempo con el instrumento tocando, trabajando y también enseñando a principiantes y la experiencia que tengo es que hay mucho contenido sobre el theremin y algunos contenidos son muy buenos, pero hay muy poco en español.

y lo que yo tengo ganas de hacer es dar a conocer instrumento y en en toda su dimensión, no sólo como un generador de efectos o de una manera muy limitada. Quiero destruir un poco los clichés y dar a conocer un instrumento que puede ser muy versátil. pero para eso creo que hay que explicárselo a la gente que recién empieza y también a la gente que no conoces de mí.

Para que cunda la información correcta, sepa que existe y pueda intentar acercarse más a este universo, ya sea para aprender a tocarlo. o para enterarse de que este instrumento existe y todas las cosas que se pueden hacer. Entonces yo creo que estos contenidos tienen la idea de educar Por un lado a un público que puede no saber nada, ayudar a los principiantes o a los curiosos que están con la duda de si tocar un empezar a aprender o eh.

Qué instrumento comprar fuera empezar con el theremin. La idea es compartir la información, guiar a las personas entre tenerlas, que el contenido sea divertido, que sea ágil, que no sea demasiado largo. Por eso trato de hacer lecciones, pero también de hacer vídeos sobre temas específicos que puedan ser necesarios.

Para informar mejor a las personas alrededor del instrumento y crear un universo y una plataforma de intercambio. lo de la escuela En realidad no es no es una escuela, es una plataforma, pero como yo también doy clases, es un poco en un hombre que nos nos ayuda a un montón de cosas y sobre todo quería que el nombre fuera fácil de recordar y que tuviera algún poco roquero.

Y por eso se llama mágica Escuela de Theremin porque Al inicio en fue inspirado por El, nombre del Magic ado Ministro Eidur, el disco de los Beatles y de hecho me me gusto el del nombre como suena rítmicamente, entonces es un proyecto que a mi me gusta bastante porque me permite compartir el conocimiento que ya tengo y todo y compartir lo que ya se, pero también me emociona el descubrir y aprender nuevas cosas.

Mientras las comparto con un público que también se interesa por el término. Es una forma de crear comunidad y seguir con un trabajo que ya ha estado haciendo gente como al mes Paz en Chile con el festival Electromagnética y son proyectos que buscan generar un plataforma y un espacio de aprendizaje e intercambio alrededor de un instrumento que nos apasiona.

Ese es el proyecto de la mágica Escuela de Theremin y de verdad es…

Rick Reid 08:03

You have a new single out where you are the guest artist on someone else's recording. The track is called Ballena, which I learned means “Whale.” Tell me about “Whale.”

Veronik 08:13

Éste Tras Ballena el es una colaboración entre un amigo de años, Oliver Castillo, que es un gran bajista que el año pasado sacó su primer disco como solista y su Su disco fue una fue diseñado como un laboratorio en donde cada cáncer Sony va a ser construida en conjunto con un invitado como músico invitado.

Entonces esa combinación era como un laboratorio donde cada canción iba a ser construida de esta manera y dándole un sonido bien especial a cada tema. Me pareció para Carmen gusto el primer disco y inició este año en enero. Oliver me llama para preguntarme si quería participar. Para el segundo volumen de su segundo disco como solista con esta misma este mismo sistema de laboratorio.

Entonces demandó dos ideas y escogí esta que me que me pareció que tenía algo acuatico que me gustaba. Me sugirió explorar Por el lado del Tel y de la voz. Con este sonido que tiene un poco que ver con una Parece entre una ballena y una sirena y me gustó, me gustó. Hay una parte que no sabíamos mucho que cosa meterle y se le ocurre hacer las voces y le dio un acosada bacana el tema y de hecho me gustó mucho crear algo nuevo técnicamente que no hubiera hecho antes.

Y a sugerencia del propio Oliver que me pese al explorar con uno que llamáis les Flight de la muerte, que es cuando usas todo el registro del, temen que quiero un registro muy amplio desde lo más Agudo moverte hacia la parte más grave del registro super rápido, no cosas que solo instrumento puede hacer.

Y me gustó hacer ese tipo de cosas en este tras emm que debió haber salido a inicios de la de de este año, pero por la situación de la pandemia realmente se retrasó muchos más. El ingeniero de sonido que estaba trabajando con nosotros en falleció a causa del virus. Fueron tiempos muy duros. Él era muy amigo de Oliver.

Yo también lo conocía. Entonces realmente ha sido un trayecto muy accidentado. Encierro momentos muy duros, pero al final ya sacamos el tema y nos gusta como ha quedado. y de hecho también es un pedazo de historia que que nos acompaña, no, que nos ha tocado vivir

Rick Reid 10:46

You are working on a new album. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Veronik 10:50

A ver, estoy trabajan donde o algo Como cantautores. Se puede seguir más que nada un álbum de rock con canciones donde va a verter Emmy, pero como un instrumento ya no protagónico. no como parte de mi paleta de sonidos. Es un álbum conceptual porque habla de las relaciones tóxicas. Esta va a ser la temática y tenía muchas canciones que hablaban sobre ese tema.

En cada canción tiene su personalidad, su, su sonido y también hay, si bien la mayorías, un sonido eléctrico de roquero. Hay también temas acústicos. y el theremin va a estar presente de todas maneras porque es parte de mi, de mi sonido, de mi, de mi y marca registrada. Y luego tengo otro. Este sería mi tercer disco como solista, pero tengo otro proyecto de disco para después que ese si va a hacer un disco de The Enemy porque tengo cosas que hacer todavía con instrumento que no ha hecho antes.

De repente voy a lucirme más en aspectos técnicos, pero ya no va a ser un disco como anómala, que fue un disco de rock progresivo experimental para el theremin como instrumento protagoniza, pero me gusta que cada disco sea diferente. Entonces ahora tengo que tengo una deuda con las canciones y con la guitarra.

Entonces me voy a dedicar a este disco. y es un poco difícil. Es un reto para mí porque no tengo tiempo para tocar la guitarra. Siempre estoy tocando el theremin y dando clases de theremin. Entonces necesito hacer este disco. para empezar a trabajar en el otro. Asi que ya tengo en tengo trabajo para ir a ver una reedición del disco anómala para fines de año con un sello europeo.

Y estos son los planes de este año. Hace lo

Rick Reid 12:43

Veronik, it's been so much fun visiting with you today. Thank you for being on Theremin 30.

Veronik 12:48

Thank you, Rick.  

Muchas gracias por invitarme. Estuvo super divertido de la entrevista es pero al no haber fallado con el inglés y no hagamos QUE pronto de visita en el canal de la mágica escuela decir y nos vemos muy pronto.

Rick Reid 13:03

Gracias to Veronica for answering my questions in two languages this month. To hear an edited version of our conversation in English, be sure to listen to this month's regular episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. Until next time I'm your host, Rick Reid. Hasta la vista.

David Brower 13:21

You’ve been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at

October 2021 - Veronik


In the October 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays music from the USA, Canada, and Peru. Rick's interview guest is Veronik, host and producer of Magica Escuela de Theremin on YouTube. 

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.


*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. 







Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 



David Brower  0:04  
This is Theremin 30, thirty 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  
Hey there, welcome to the 29th episode of the Theremin 30 podcast. If you're new to this show, I hope you'll go back and listen to the previous episodes to hear interviews and music from all over the theremin world. This month I've got four new music tracks to play for you. And my special guest is Veronik, a singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Peru. She recently launched a series of Spanish language shortform theremin lessons on YouTube. Now let's get this show on the road with music from Portland, Maine band Supernormal. Here is an edit of a track they released in 2020 called "The Meanderer." 

Rick Reid  9:25  
We started the show with the psychedelic stylings of Supernormal featuring Eric Eaton on theremin. That track is called "The Meanderer," and it's available on the band's 2020 maxi-single release Short Wave. After that we heard it "Just Yesterday" recorded just last month by Bay area artist Anna Glyph. There is a very cool stop-motion video for "Just Yesterday" on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. To learn more about Supernormal and Anna Glyph click on their names in this month's show notes at Coming up after the break, I'll take a look at the calendar of events and play a new single from Canadian singing scientist, Dr. G. So stick around.

Rick Reid  10:16  
It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar. Look at theremin-related concerts, workshops, and other events happening around the world in the weeks ahead. On October 21st, Bob Moog will be posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Also on the 21st, Rob Schwimmer will perform in the backing band of The Beatles-themed modern dance show Pepperland in Tucson, Arizona. The Octopus Project takes the stage in Austin, Texas on October 28th, and Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel will perform in Atlanta, Georgia on October 30. For details about these events and more, check out the interactive calendar on If you have an event you'd like me to put on the calendar, send me the details through the website, Twitter, or Facebook. Nova Scotia-based recording artist Dr. G turns scientific concepts into catchy pop tunes for kids. His latest single is for the youngest of kids. Here's his new lullaby called "Matter."

Rick Reid  15:11  
That was Dr. G's new song called "Matter." It's part of Physics, a five-track EP available now on Bandcamp. Coming up after the break, I'll visit with Veronik. So stay tuned.

Rick Reid  15:35  
Veronik is a recording artists based in Lima, Peru. We've featured music from her solo work and from her Cosmic Cafe project in past episodes. I spoke with Veronik recently to learn about her new theremin lesson videos on YouTube and her latest recording. Veronik, thank you for being on Theremin 30.

Veronik  15:52  
Hi, Rick, thank you for inviting me.

Rick Reid  15:55  
You were one of the very first musicians to offer your music to play in the show two years ago when I first started this podcast, so I really appreciate the support you gave me. 

Veronik  16:05  
Oh, yeah, I remember that.

Rick Reid  16:07  
And I love your music. I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing it right - Anomala? 

Veronik  16:11  

Rick Reid  16:11  
Anomala album is really cool. And I enjoy listening to that. 

Veronik  16:15  
Thank you. 

Rick Reid  16:16  
I invited you on this show because I wanted to find out your history with the theorem. And first of all, how did you get involved with the Theremin?

Veronik  16:24  
I discovered music when I was a child. And I used to listen to a lot of classical music, you know, and I first begin playing music with the flute when I was 11-12 year old and I became very passionate about music. And then I got bored because I went for two years in conservatory, Conservatoire Maurice Ravel. I used to live in France during my teenage years. And then I found conservatory very boring. And I discovered rock and roll music. And that was a whole new thing for me. And my dream was founding my own band. You know, that was my dream. And I did it finally when I was 18 and back to Peru. So I began making music, writing my own songs, performing with my own band. And when I was about 10 years doing this, I discovered the theremin and that was a whole new thing for me. I just came across that documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey from Steve Martin. And what a wonderful movie. You know, it's so emotional. The whole thing is amazing, but I never saw a theremin before. I already knew about the sound, you know, that spooky creepy sound. And that was a like a cliche. You know that theremin sound. And that spooky thing, that crazy sound effect, but I didn't know that it was actually a real music instrument. And when I saw Clara rockmore performing on the movie, I was like, Oh my god, I need this in my life just right now. I want it now and I'm gonna learn how to perform it. And I don't know how but I will do this. And I want this now. And then about one week finding out anything I could about the theremin and taking my first lessons with Thomas Grillo YouTube series, we're talking about 2008. My first theremin was an Etherwave Standard. I ordered it via eBay. I started doing what I could and learning bit by bit. It wasn't easy at all. It was nearly impossible to perform properly a song but it was cool for doing effects and stuff. So by this time, I was working on my first solo album and people already knew me so I got very soon my first job as a theremin player. I was about like a month playing around with my theremin and stuff but I was asked to record some theremin lines for a surf rock band. Were friends of mine and that was my beginning as a theremin player.

Rick Reid  19:19  
The next thing I wanted to ask you about is your current project that I think is really fun. You're doing a series of lesson videos on YouTube.

Veronik  19:27  
Yeah, Magica Escuela de Theremin, Magic Theremin School and the name was very influenced by the Magical Mystery Tour. The Beatles. That name you know. I'm a rock and roll performer so that's rock part was quite important to me. It's a project that looks for making the theremin known as music instrument in Spanish of course because I'm Peruvian and I speak Spanish mostly, also French is my main language. I came across many theremin content, but not many things in Spanish spoken, you know. And I tried to do something about teaching people and not only theremin geeks, but also people who could be interested by the theremin, if you tell what's this thing about and what you can do with the thermin. I really find it's a very, very versatile instrument. But we need to forget those theremin cliches about spooky things about effect sounds and that sort of thing. Really it's, it's a whole universe that we can rediscover and build. So that's my intention. Also, my interest is about building a network between people interested and theremin players that we don't know yet because of the language issue. Also, my mission is to make it fun in some way, not very complicated stuff to understand, and I want it to be easy for anyone.

Rick Reid  20:09  
I like how the videos are poquito.

Veronik  21:15  
It's important to make them short, so you can make sure people are gonna watch the most part of the content. This is my intention to do short videos, and explain some basic tips to understand theremin psychology, you know. That's a very special instrument because it's similar to violin, but at the same time, it's similar to a voice, but it's electronic. But it's not a synth. It's a weird animal. You know, theremin. It's a very organic instrument. There is no one way of playing it. You can build your own playing technique by learning lots of different styles, approaches. So that makes it very, very interesting.

Rick Reid  22:08  
You have a new single out or you're the guest artist on someone else's recording. The track is called by "Ballena," which I learned means "whale." Tell me about "Whale."

Veronik  22:17  
That's a nice project. Oliver Castillo is a wonderful bass player, longtime friend, and he asked me to participate in his new solo album. He decided to design his album project as laboratory with other artists, friends who would build up each song along with him, like a laboratory project, in which collaboration would be the main ingredient to build up new sounds and each tune personality. He sent me two ideas, and I chose this one who had this aquatic sound. And I feel like a whale or something to do like in this way with my theremin, of course. And I wanted to try something with my voice, too. Unfortunately, it was a mess with the pandemic, and actually the sound engineer who passed away with the virus and it was really, really a very hard moment. It was a hard journey, actually. But maybe we take it as like a part of history. We finally got it done, and we liked the result. But there were some hard times, too.

Rick Reid  23:38  
You are working on a new album. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Veronik  23:42  
I have actually two album projects. The first one is a rock album. That's my third solo album. It's a bunch of love songs, let's say. An album about being immersed in toxic relationships in several aspects. The theremin is not the protagonist in this album. I'm really also working on theremin stuff. And my next project is another theremin album. But that new album I'm working on now is a rock album. And the theremin maybe fits on some of the tracks but not in every song because I feel that each song has his own sound, his own personality. And I'm trying to get back to the guitar playing but it's very hard to me because I actually work daily with my theremin because I'm doing lessons and stuff. So making this album for me it's like a challenge to do stuff with my voice, with guitar, and also with theremin and work on music production again. But I know I can do it. So the album should be released maybe the next year. Also we have another reissue of Anomala this year. So that's my, my main projects.

Rick Reid  25:09  
Veronik, it's been so much fun visiting with you today. Thank you for being on Theremin 30.

Veronik  25:14  
Oh, thank you, Rick. It's been a pleasure for me.

Rick Reid  25:18  
Let's finish the show now with new music from Veronica. She's a featured thereminist and vocalist on this new track from Oliver Castillo called "Ballena."

Rick Reid  29:20  
We're running out of time for this 30 minutes of theremin music. So I will quickly thank Supernormal, Anna Glyph, Dr. G, and Veronik for sharing their talents with us. And thank you for the listeners who make small monthly donations to support this show. Every little bit helps. I've already got some interesting theremin music and interview guests lined up for the next episode. So subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app. Until next time, I'm your host, Rick Reid. See you again soon.

David Brower  29:49  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at

September 2021 - Dorit Chrysler


In the September 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays music from Japan, Finland, the USA, and Italy. Rick's interview guest is Dorit Chrysler, co-founder of the NY Theremin Society and a consulting artist on the Moog Music Claravox Centennial theremin. 

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.


*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. 







Copyright 2021 Rick Reid 



This transcript was created with an automated speech-to-text system. There will be some errors.

David Brower  0:04  
This is Theremin 30. Thirty 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  
Well hello there. Welcome to the 28th edition of the Theremin 30 podcast. This is September of 2021 and I am your humble host. Over the next half hour, I've got some great new theremin music from Japan, Finland, and Italy and a not-so-new track from the USA. My special guest this month is Dorit Chrysler from the New York Theremin Society. Dorit was one of the musicians who consulted with mcg music during the development of the new Claravox Centennial theremin and she'll be conducting some Claravox workshops in October. Let's get right into the music now with a brand new track from electric travelers featuring Fatern on Theremin and vocals and Tomio Katayama on synthesizers. This track is called Shinkai, which means deep sea.

Rick Reid  8:38  
We started the show with a new track called Shinkai by Japanese band Electric Travelers. Then we heard Face Plant, the title track of a recent mini-album from Kepa Lehtinen. Kepa says the title Face Plant was inspired by his love of skateboarding and the inevitable falls that come with it. To learn more about Electric Travelers and Kepa Lehtinen, click on their names and this month show notes and check out their videos on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. Coming up after the break, I'll take a look at the calendar of events and play a track from the Texas trio known as the octopus project. So stay tuned.

Rick Reid  9:27  
It's time now for the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events a look at Theremin-related concerts, workshops and other Theremin things happening around the world in the weeks ahead. On September 9 and 10th Xiao Xiao will perform with the Wandering Mind project at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria. On Saturday, September 11, Sheuh-Li Ong welcomes radio science orchestra thereminist Bruce Woolley to her YouTube chat show on September 15, and 16th Dorit Chrysler will perform on the Moog Claravox at Superbooth in Berlin, Germany. From September 16 through the 18th Fishbone, featuring thereminist Angelo Moore will make outdoor festival appearances in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Southern California. And Lydia Kavina continues her online workshops on most Sundays. For details about all of these events and more, check out the interactive calendar on And if you have an event you'd like me to put on the calendar, send me all the details through the website, Twitter or Facebook. The Octopus Project featuring Josh Lambert, Toto Miranda, and Yvonne Lambert will be playing live at the Levitation festival in Austin, Texas on October 28. The trio also recently had one of their tracks featured in an episode of The CW TV series The Republic of Sara, and they've been commissioned to score an upcoming documentary about the beloved public television series Reading Rainbow. Let's listen now to a track from their 2008 album Hello Avalanche that features Yvonne Lambert on theremin This is called, I saw the Bright Shinies.

Rick Reid  14:54  
That was I saw the Bright Shinies by The Octopus Project. Be sure to check out the fun, animated music video on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist. Coming up after the break I'll visit with Dorit Chrysler about the new Claravox Centennial Theremin. So stick around.

Rick Reid  15:24  
Dorit Chrysler is a co-founder of The New York Theremin Society and a world-renowned professional Thereminist who teaches online and in-person theremin workshops from her current home base in Berlin, Germany. She was one of three professional thereminists to get prototypes of the Claravox Centennial theremin to provide feedback to the designers at Moog Music. I spoke with her a few days ago via Zoom. Dorit Chrysler. Thank you so much for being on Theremin 30.

Dorit Chrysler
My pleasure. Nice to be here.

Rick Reid
For people who are not familiar with the New York Theremin Society. Why don't you tell us what that is and why it seems to be based in Germany and not New York.

Dorit Chrysler  16:00  
The New York Theremin Society is an international network that promotes the visibility of the instrument specifically in different art forms. Because of COVID-19 it has been hard to do concert series in New York as well as theremin workshops. And because I have relocated as of lately to Berlin even though I'm still jumping around, the workshops has been recently mostly restricted to online.

Rick Reid  16:28  
you are the first person I know of to get the Moog Music Claravox Centennial theremin. You've had one for several months, now. How did that happen?

Dorit Chrysler  16:36  
Well, I have been contacted by Cyril Lance, who at the time, was the head engineer of Moog Music, he started working on the analog aspects of the Claravox. Because we have a working relationship for many years he had contacted me and I think Pamelia and Gregoire to solicit us with questions about what we would want in a new theremin and to collaborate. And I think that's really wonderful in the spirit of Bob Moog himself to work closely with the artists together. It's obviously fascinating for a musician to see how an instrument evolves and is being made. I had several meetings with Cyril, he also came to New York and we literally tested several prototypes in development in terms of what it would need. And you know, every player has different needs and demands. But for me, it was really important to have the whole sound quality, the capacity of the instrument, and specifically being able to set the capacity of the instrument and how it responds in speeds and the curve of pitch and volume. I think the Claravox will really produce a lot of better players. It's easier to play, and it has a really rich, full-bodied sound. But that being said, it really will demand from every player to use the choices this instrument offers to really find their own setting of what sound exactly you want to have. We never had an instrument that had such a varied potential of different colors and tones that you want to set. And also, there's a lot of calibration potential with this instrument that you can adapt to your own playing needs. I've tried it out live now a few times the calibration is incredibly stable and really easy to adjust on the fly, which is pretty exciting. 

Rick Reid  18:46  
The front panel of the Claravox gives you all the usual controls you'd expect from a Moog theremin, plus a low-pass filter and the delay effect. But once you plug it into the app, or the editor librarian app, there's a whole new range of things that you can do with it.

Dorit Chrysler  19:02  
It takes it kind of to the next level, what I also have been diving into that I find really interesting. And it will take all the players probably some time is with this external software, like a guitar or like setting different microphones you can dive so much now into different tone and color variations that I have gotten so obsessed about each piece I play has a completely different setting. And you then just jump very quickly from one to the other. And now you really have this whole bandwidth of sounds. And you can really play them in settings in ways of response of how high you want the volume curve and where you want the field to be. For me it really opens a whole new possibilities that I'm quite excited about.

Rick Reid  19:55  
The one thing I think is missing is an owner's manual. There's no instructions on how to use the app that I can find.

Dorit Chrysler  20:03  
That's a good point, we should definitely bring that to the attention. Personally, I always dive into instruments without manual and just explore on the fly. And I don't know if that brings you to the goal faster or not. And then when I need to know something, I'll go back and look things up. I worked with the software also, and I set the sounds. I listened. And then I know how to save and how to jump quickly from sound to sound. But you're right, it should be made more clear.

Rick Reid  20:36  
And I understand most of it, I think, but I would like to manipulate the wavetables.

Dorit Chrysler  20:41  
I think you should just really try to take the time and wiggle all the different functions and use your ears, we have the tools, and it really depends on where we take it.

Rick Reid  20:53  
One thing I would like to do is now that I have a low pass filter and two oscillators, is to create some sounds that are reminiscent o,f say, a Minimoog synthesizer.

Dorit Chrysler  21:03  
No manual can tell you, here's your Minimoog sound. But if you spend hours on end triggering around the things like you know, things would work on a synthesizer, then let's see how far you can get to have a similar sound. I'm sure it's possible to get there. But all you have is your ears for that.

Rick Reid  21:22  
I've had my Claravox for a couple of weeks now. And there's a lot to like about it. But one of my favorite things is simply the name Claravox.

Dorit Chrysler  21:30  
I'm so proud and honored that Moog solicited suggestions for the name of their new theremin instrument. And I suggested the name Claravox among other names because I thought that naming it after the first female electronic music pioneer would be befitting and so I'm so happy that name's made the cuts. And I hope that all the players will do the Clara and the potential of this instrument proud.

Rick Reid  22:03  
There's only a couple of hundred out in the market now as near as I can tell. So a lot of people are not going to know what we're talking about. But when they get their Claravox in the next few weeks, they're going to need some help. And you have a workshop coming up in October. Tell us about that.

Dorit Chrysler  22:19  
Yes, I'm gonna start a series of workshops and I guess given circumstances, it's best to do it online. So people from all time zones can join. And I think it will be very interesting to compare notes and toss questions and see where everyone is. This really now concerns people that already understand the basic principle of the Theremin. And I've heard some positive feedbacks from most of these players that already received it. And I think people really have to understand and dive into carving out their own sound. For the Claravox workshop, I think in the beginning, it will be good to just be able to ask each other questions and toss things around.

Rick Reid  23:04  
And you're gonna offer this workshop both online and in-person in Berlin. Is that right? 

Dorit Chrysler

Rick Reid
Would there be any advantage to joining the workshop for someone who has ordered the instrument but doesn't have it yet?

Dorit Chrysler  23:16  
Yes, I think it would probably be very informative to just understand what people do and what issues they run into. And I think the Claravox has a lot of features that take time to unlock. So to kind of play around with that and to listen in would probably be interesting.

Rick Reid  23:35  
While I still have you here. Tell me about any upcoming projects that you're involved with either concerts or recordings.

Dorit Chrysler  23:42  
I've recently participated in a recording for a Broadway musical called Mr. Dellamort that's been released recently where almost every song contains theremin. And I've been commissioned a work by the MoMA. For a sound art video, we're going to go inside the MoMA what is currently an Alexander Calder exhibition. And I will place three different theremin types around to Calder sculptures and we will set the mobile in motion and we will have a duet between the sculpture and the theremins. And we will film and record it and turn that into an art piece. That's an upcoming project.

Rick Reid  24:24  
Well thank you very much and wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors in Berlin and elsewhere. And hope to see you again soon. 

Dorit Chrysler
Thanks for having me all the best to you. Take care.

Rick Reid
To get details about Dorit Chrysler's October Claravox workshops. Click on the events on the Theremin 30 calendar or on any of the links to the New York Theremin Society that appear on the Theremin 30 website. Let's wrap up the show now with a swan song but not the swan song you may be expecting. Here is the Italian experimental music project called Polvere in Cantina featuring thereminist and synthesist Vincenzo Mastrangelo, with a brand new track called Cygnus Ebridi. Vincenzo tells me it's inspired by the high-altitude flight of swans, which serves as a metaphor for striving to attain something that seems impossible.

Rick Reid  29:00  
That's all the time we have for this edition of the Theremin 30 podcast. Thank you to Electric Travelers, Kepa Lehtinen, The Octopus Project, and Polvere in Cantina for sharing their music and for my special guest, Dorit Chrysler. Also a big thank you goes to the listeners who support this podcast with monthly donations. Please, if you're not doing it already, follow the show on Twitter and Facebook, where I share the latest theremin news, and you can suggest music, ask questions, and get to know other listeners around the world. Even though things are slowly starting to get back to normal, the pandemic is definitely not over. So please get the vaccine if you're eligible, follow public safety guidelines, and try to be patient and supportive of each other as we all work to get through this together. Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid. See you again soon.

David Brower  29:50  
You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at

August 2021 - Xiao Xiao


In the August 2021 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid plays music from the UK, Japan, and France. Rick's interview guest is Xiao Xiao, Ph.D., a thereminist and postdoctoral researcher working in the Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3. 

▶️ Listen to this episode on Spotify.


  • "Starstruck (featuring Terrace Radio)" - Kevin Sinnott (Liverpool, England, UK)
  • "Spooky" - Steve Stroud (Liverpool, England, UK)
  • "Russian Medley" - Mable and Da (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan) 
  • "Field Sketches from Sonic Dreamscapes" (excerpt) - Xiao Xiao and Manuel Gaulhiac (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. 



  • Xiao Xiao, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3. 





Copyright 2021 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 there have been 3030 minutes of ceremonies, news events and interviews with a new episode about every 30 days. Now, here's

Rick Reid  0:14  
your host from Denver, Colorado, USA, Rick Reid. Hey there, welcome to Theremin 30 the only regularly scheduled English language Theremin podcast where you get to hear me try to pronounce the names of musicians and the songs from around the world in my crazy American accent. This is episode number 27 for August 2021. I'll be playing music from England to Japan and France. And my interview guest is Dr. Xiao Xiao. She is a computer scientist artist and musician based in Paris who blends her interests in some fascinating ways. Among other things, we'll be talking about how she got her Theremin to sing. Let's start the show now with a geographic double play two tracks from recording artists based in Liverpool, England. I don't know if they know each other already, but if they don't, they really should introduce themselves. First you'll hear music from Kevin senate and then Steve Stroud. I'll give you details about both tracks after the set. Sea around witness match when you raised

Rick Reid  9:30  
we started the show with a song called starstruck by Kevin Senate. He released that song as a single about three months ago. After that we heard a track called spooky by Steve Stroud from his current and fourth solo album called sketches from the bunker. Steve sang and played most of the instruments on that track, including the Theremin, he runs a recording studio in Liverpool called the big cloud productions. You can learn more about Kevin and Steve by clicking on their names and this month show notes at Theremin 30. dot com. After the break, I'll take a look at the calendar of Theremin events and play some Russian music by way of Japan. So stay tuned.

Rick Reid  10:21  
It's now time for the Theremin 30 calendar. Look at the Theremin related concerts, workshops and other events happening around the world in the weeks ahead. On August 10. Robert Meyer plays an outdoor concert in zinna Wits Germany on August 21 squirrly ainger will present a French language lecture and performance in lenses Switzerland on August 28 Dorit Chrysler leads online and in person Theremin workshops from Berlin Germany. And finally, this month happens to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of Leon Theremin. Depending on which calendar you use. His birthday is either August 15, or August 28. So I recommend celebrating for the whole two weeks. For details about all of these events and more, check out the interactive calendar on Theremin And if you have an event you'd like me to put on the calendar, send me all the details through the website, Twitter or Facebook. Up next is music from an album I featured earlier this year called the Renaissance and evolution produced by Masami Takeuchi. It's a compilation of recordings by two of my Assamese music projects. This time around I have a track from mobile and da. I was curious about the name of the group, so I asked Masami about it. He explained that he used to have two different metrium and groups. One was called marble taking the first two letters from the word maitri Omen, and then the last three letters from the word ensemble. The other group made up of his matri Omen students was called da, which is the Russian language word for Yes. Eventually, he combined the two groups into a huge metrium an orchestra with 100 members. So here now as a recording of marble and da performing a track called Russian medley.

Rick Reid  17:09  
That was Russian Medley by marble and to draw from the Renaissance and evolution album produced by Masami Taguchi. Coming up after this break, visit with Dr. Xiao Xiao, so stick around

Rick Reid  17:41  
Xiao Xiao is a multi talented artist, musician and computer scientist who has combined her interests to create a piano that will play a duet with you, and a Theremin that can speak and sing in French. She has a PhD from MIT and works as a postdoctoral researcher in Paris. I spoke with her recently to find out more about her fascinating projects that blur the lines between art and science. Dr. Shah, thank you for being on Theremin 30. Thank you so much for having me. Rick, we should start with a little bit of your background. In music. You are originally a piano player, right?

Xiao Xiao 18:18  
I am. Yeah, I started classical piano when I was four years old. Music has always been a really important part of my life.

Rick Reid  18:26  
And then Theremin is something you came to much later.

Xiao Xiao  18:29  
Yeah, I was at the MIT Media Lab. And my official research topic is human computer interaction. There's a conference called nine new interfaces for musical expression, where I actually met door at Chrysler in 2017. And that was how I started playing the Theremin in the first place.

Rick Reid  18:48  
So you studied this human computer interaction through undergrad grad school and your doctorate degree.

Xiao Xiao  18:55  
I went to MIT for undergrad and I study computer science. And then afterwards, I was at the MIT Media Lab, and did my masters and PhD in this group called tangible media, which is all about envisioning new ways that people might interact with the computer or with digital information in the future. And at the same time that I was doing my Masters and PhD at the Media Lab. My first year, there was a class on music, improvisation. And I took that class and it totally changed my life because well, I've always been really into learning. But I guess I had always thought that people who become really really good in music, have some sort of special talent in the rest of us. If we're not so talented, then, you know, we can only get so far. This class made me really interested in thinking about music as a sandbox for learning how to learn.

Rick Reid  19:51  
What do you mean by sandbox?

Xiao Xiao  19:52  
I guess it's a metaphor about kids in playgrounds, right you have a playground you have the sandbox, the kids are always like, rule laying around in the sand, experimenting, learning about different ways of forming the sand and creating these little worlds for themselves to understand objects and physics in their own bodies. And I think this sort of learning is something that's really important. The world today is constantly changing. And I've personally feel like one of the most important skills that anybody can have is the ability to learn something quickly, efficiently, and maybe have a lot of fun while doing it.

Rick Reid  20:32  
One example, I think of what you're talking about is a video on the web, where you are playing a duet with a reflection of yourself, Is that the right way to describe

Xiao Xiao 20:42  
it. During my Master's in the PhD at the Media Lab, I had worked on some projects, imagining how the piano might be like in the future, where it could be augmented with digital information. And when I was playing the piano, one day, I was looking at the reflection of my hands on the surface in front of the keyboard. And I just had this thought of, wouldn't it be really lovely if instead of seeing your own reflection, you could see someone else's reflection and play a duet with the reflection of somebody from far away, or maybe even somebody from the past, I applied to the Media Lab with this as a project idea. And I think my advisor her she, she really resonated with the ideas behind the project. And I got accepted to the Media Lab and kind of spent the next few years trying to build this vision. Eventually, I had built enough prototypes to convince Yamaha to loan me a disc of your piano, which is like a player piano that plays itself. And so then I began to projection map onto the piano videos of pianos hands and the upper body projected as if it's on to the keys and on the part where the music would be. And this is synchronized with the moving keys of the Disklavier your piano gave the illusion, especially if you're sitting in front of it, that there's a person there, it really kind of hacks your brain to feel like there is a presence there. So at the Media Lab, people build demos of their projects. And the demo is kind of a way to tell stories about the future. One of the stories that I like to tell is about what it would be like for instance, having concerts streamed not just to your computer, but onto your piano at home, and you can actually feel like there's a hologram of the pianos in front of you. 

Rick Reid
A lot of people first became aware of you few years ago when you were teaching a Theremin to sing.

Xiao Xiao
This was a project called tea box. It's about t v. Okay. S and the idea is to connect a vocal synthesizer to the Theremin, which gives the Theremin the ability to sing with lyrics and to recite poetry. This project came about when I was doing a short research pilot project at a lab in Paris called Lem, which stands for luthier acoustic music. This group had developed a vocal synthesizer that's controlled by hand gestures, and they connected it to a Wakeham tablet where you're able to kind of draw on the screen and seeing with this really realistic sounding synthesized voice, and I had come to the group because I had seen their work at a conference and I had this idea of using their interface to help people learn Chinese tones. Tones are just one of the biggest difficulties with learning Chinese. And it's unfortunate because you can pronounce English or French with a horrible accent and people will still understand you. But if you don't get tones in Chinese, even if you can read and write really well speaking is always going to be a problem. In Chinese a tone is actually a frequency change. So in Chinese you have four tones. There's AA, which is just you know, like singing like Oh, ah which is it rises Ah, which dips and then ah which goes down. And if you play the Theremin, actually, maybe it's easier for you to understand tones because you can think of them as different gestures and they are different gestures of the voice. So anyway, I was in this group doing this pilot project and at that point, I had started to play the Theremin and I had been playing for a few months and I was really excited about it. And with a colleague, Greg Acker from the lab. We kind of got together during weekends to see whether we could connect the vocal synthesizer to the Theremin. Then it kind of worked pretty well because we already know is Theremin player That the Theremin has this incredible capacity to mimic the human voice when you add lyrics to it. That's just another dimension that you can play with.

Rick Reid  25:09  
Well it reminds me of how the Theremin was invented Professor Theremin was inventing something else. And that Theremin just sort of came out of that by accident.

Xiao Xiao  25:18  
Yeah, yeah. And you know, Professor Theremin is such a hero for me. He represents so much the spirit of exploration and discovery and self learning and connecting the dots between art science technology. I really wish I could have met him. He's just such an incredible inspiration.

Rick Reid  25:35  
Tell me about your Theremin experience outside of research are you performing

Xiao Xiao 25:41  
I performed that I bid when I was in New Orleans working on my art projects there before moving to Paris. In terms of more recent projects. There is something that I'm cooking up with a couple of friends from the Media Lab group, john D blown and Ching Lu, who have made this really amazing Sonic experience, which they presented at Ars Electronica last year, called the wandering mind. They take field recordings that are freely available on the internet, they do a spectral analysis of all the recordings like 1000s 10s of 1000s of them, then they feed it to a neural net, which clusters the recordings by similarity in terms of sounds. So then you get this 2d space where you can wander around using just like your keyboard, and your little square and you hear the sounds that are closest to you. And as you move around the space, you get this transforming soundscape. We have been experimenting with jamming with it in the Theremin. And so we got together a few times and he would pilot the wandering mind and I would play the Theremin. It's almost like you're a neural net yourself. And you're fed with these different sounds and you have to understand them somehow. Even if I never become professional in the world that the Theremin it's still such a gift to be interacting with this instrument and also is such a gift to be interacting with the Theremin community because it's such a beautiful close knit community like people are so generous with their knowledge and it's just really amazing to be part of it.

Rick Reid  27:22  
Now let's end the episode with Xiao Xiao on Theremin and Manuel Gualiac controlling the Wandering Mind sound system.

Rick Reid  29:18  
And that wraps up the August 2021 edition of the Theremin 30 Podcast. Thanks so much to Kevin Sinnott, Steve Stroud, and to Masmami Takeuchi and the 100 members of Mabel and Da for allowing me to play their music in the show. Also, a special thanks to my interview guest Xiao Xiao. The pandemic isn't over so be careful out there. Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid, I'll see you around on Facebook and Twitter.

David Brower You've been listening to the "Theremin 30" podcast. Visit "Theremin 30" on the web at Theremin-three-zero-dot-com.