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. 

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*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  
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