[S05E02] August 2023 - Kip Rosser (part 2)

In the August 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, host Rick Reid continues his conversation with Kip Rosser that began in the March 2023 episode. Featured music includes recordings by Tharsis Project, Andrew Levine, Paulo Pascual, and Kip Rosser.


  • "Prototype" - Tharsis Project: Ernesto Mendoza and Jon Carr (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • "Live at Cosmos Lisboa" [excerpt] - Andrew Levine (Hamburg, Germany)
  • Selections from "Negro Púrpura" - Paulo Pascual (Vigo, Spain
  • Theme from "Idle Hands are the Devil's Playground" - Kip Rosser (Morrisville, Pennsylvania, USA)

*The full-length recordings featured in this show were used with the knowledge and permission of the artists and composers. Please support the artists by visiting their websites, purchasing their recordings, and attending their performances. 







Copyright 2023 Rick Reid 



Please note: This transcript was created with the help of speech-to-text AI.  It may contain some errors.

David Brower  00:04

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  00:19

This is the August 2023 episode of the Theremin 30 podcast and the second episode of season five. I took a bit of a break since the last episode I got caught up in my freelance work projects and some health issues, including some weird problems with my voice. But I'm sounding more like myself now. So if you're ready to listen to me, I believe I'm ready to talk. In this episode, I have Theremin music from Tharsis project Andrew Levine, Paolo Pascual and my interview guest Kip Rosser. I had Kip on the show back in March to talk about the Juliet Shaw legacy project, but you only heard about half of the conversation. So this month, I'm going to play the rest of that interview, as Kip talks about his own musical adventures. 

To get things going. Here is the second single from Tharsis project, a collaboration between John Carr and Ernesto Mendoza, with a track called "Prototype." 

Rick Reid

We started the episode with "Prototype by Tharsis project. After that we heard an exclusive edit from the new live experimental album "Andrew Levine Live in Portugal." This track recorded may 3 of this year at Cosmos in the Campolide neighborhood of Lisbon features Andrew on Theremin and electronics with Jose Bruno Purina on bass, and Ernesto Rodriguez on Viola. The full track and the entire album are available on Bandcamp. Click on Andrew's name in the show notes at Theremin30.com. 

After the break, I've got that Theremin 30 calendar of events and film music from Paulo Pascual. And later in the show I'll visit with Kip Rosser so stay tuned.

Rick Reid

It's time now for a look at the Theremin 30 calendar of Theremin events. On August 3 Andrew Levine joins organist Michael Von Hinsenstern for a classical recital in Bat Berka, Germany. Also on August 3, Marla Goodman celebrates the opening of her Theremin-themed art exhibit in Billings, Montana, with a live performance. Then on August fourth, there will be an artist reception and Theremin demos. To learn more about her wonderful theremin artwork, look for the link in this month's show notes. Both August 15 and August 27 are recognized as the birthday of Professor Leon Theramin. Why two birthdays? Well, it has to do with the Russia switching calendar systems a long, long time ago. But that gives us two days to celebrate. So I'm not complaining. For details about these events and many more, check out the interactive calendar on Theremin30.com. If you have a theremin event you'd like me to list on the calendar, send me a note with all the details. You can reach me with the contact form on the Theremin 30 website. And lately I've been a bit lax about finding events to add to the calendar so do help me out by sending me information about your concerts, workshops and other Theremin-related activities. 

"Negro Purpura" or black purple is a Spanish historical documentary that looks at how hallucinogenic fungus was cultivated by farmers in Galicia. The 2021 film directed by Sabela Iglesias and Adriana Villa Nueva has been playing at festivals in Europe this year. Paolo Pascual of Vigo, Spain, created the music for the film, and he sent me some cues to play on the show. Maybe it isn't obvious, but I don't speak Galician particularly well, so I'll give the English titles. First we'll hear "the magic of fungus" followed by "lights in the River."

Rick Reid

That was music by Paulo Pascual from the soundtrack of the documentary film Negro Purpura or black purple. It's a movie about the history of the hallucinogenic fungus that grows on grain in the Galicia region of Northwest Spain. You can watch the film's trailer featuring Paulo Pascual's music on the Theremin 30 YouTube playlist.

Coming up after this break go visit with American thereminist Kip Rosser, so stay right here. 

Rick Reid

I interviewed Kip Rosser earlier this year about the Juliette Shaw Legacy Project. Because we were talking about Juliette Shaw, I didn't have time in the show to share parts of our conversation about his own career as a thereminist. So I'm going to fix that right now. Kip Rosser. Thanks so much for joining us on that Theremin 30 podcast. 

Kip Rosser  18:04

You're very welcome. Happy to be here.

Rick Reid  18:06

You are involved in theremins in lots of different ways. So give me a little brief introduction of your history of Theremining.

Kip Rosser  18:15

I started playing in 1996. And it was a complete fluke. There was a radio station in East Orange New Jersey called WFMU. At that time, they were wild. You never knew what you were going to hear. And they used to put out a catalog called Weird Stuff every year. One year, I got the catalog. And on the bottom right-hand corner was a little, tiny ad that advertised a theremin kit that you could buy. It was 150 bucks back then. It was by Paia, the Paia Thermax. And I had no idea that Moog was still making theremins, that there was an entire theremin community out there. I just knew what a theremin was. So I bought the kit, put it together. And for seven months that's the theremin that I used. After that I realized I could have bought one put together, and I got a Moog. But it wasn't called Moog at the time. It was called Big Briar. It  was a Big Briar Etherwave. And that was really the transition point. Because playing that instrument was completely different. I had to basically relearn how to play the theremin. It was more stable, it was more accurate, I could get a lot more done with it. So I started in 1996. And from there I just practiced for two years before allowing myself to play in public at all.

Rick Reid

You've played with orchestras and...  

Kip Rosser

I've never played with an orchestra I would love to. That's one of my fantasies. But there are a lot of people who have played with orchestras, but I never have. I've played with live musicians on various occasions. Rarely. There was a time when I had a wonderful jazz and classical pianist that I play with regularly. She and I played for years, but she moved away. I played with a concert pianist from San Francisco and one of my CDs is him and myself in 2005. He and I put on the show at the New York International Film Festival called "The Unholy Secrets of the Theremin." One Sunday afternoon in 2005, while we were on stage Bob Moog died. While I was playing his Etherwave Pro. I never met Bob Moog, but I did speak to him on the telephone one time, and he yelled at me. He yelled at me because it was my first public theremin performance, was done on Cape Cod, and very odd wiring, and the theremin wouldn't function no matter what. So I called Moog Music. And Bob Moog answered the telephone. This was around 1998-1999. And we talked a little bit, and he told me I could get a deep cycle marine cell, which is like a car battery to hook up to a power inverter and power the Theremin off of that, which I did, was very expensive at the time, like $200 for a deep cycle marine cell. And he asked me, "How long have you been playing the Theremin?" I said "two years, and it's my first public performance." And he hit the roof. He started screaming at me that Clara Rockmore and Lydia Kavina practiced six and a half hours a day every day for six years before they dared to play in public." And I couldn't believe that. Bob Moog was yelling at me. That was the only time, my only conversation with him at all. He chewed me out for not going for another four years before coming out to play. I always watched interviews with him. I always wanted to meet him. I wish he could have heard me play. I have no animosity towards him at all for yelling at me. It was just his mood that day. I thought it was hilarious. Bob Moog is laughing at me and yelling at me. It was really funny.

Rick Reid  21:42

You've done some movie soundtrack work, haven't you?

Kip Rosser  21:45

Lydia Kavina, Charles Lester, a couple of other people have played for film scores out of Hollywood. And I've only done one Theremin score. I wrote the score for an independent film by Michael Jason Allen called "An Idle Mind is the Devil's Playground." You can see it on Prime I believe. You can also see it on Tubi. It's a film that's only about an hour long because he knew he didn't want to try to sustain it for longer. It's in beautiful black and white. The cinematography is amazing. And it's sort of his homage to a Twilight Zone. He found me on ReverbNation and contacted me and asked me if I would be willing to write the score for his film. And I said, Sure. So I did. There was another very, very short film by a director named Sabina Ptasznik. She asked me to write a score for Theremin music is more properly, I would call it sound effects for her movie called Gravity. It was also a filmmaker. Her name at that time was Toddy Burton. It was about a 15 minute film. The film composer contacted me and asked him if I would play the Theremin parts in his score. So I was able to do that as well. Those are the only film experiences that I've ever had.

Rick Reid  22:58

Most people know you from your YouTube videos. Tell people about that, who maybe haven't seen them.

Kip Rosser  23:03

Since 2011, apart from the music videos which I occasionally put up, my real focus was putting up tutorials. Starting in 2011, till just last year, I have made theremin tutorials, which to me was the only thing that I thought was really worth putting up. It felt like a contribution. Playing music, you see tons of theremin videos, people playing music, and there are some wonderfully amazingly talented Thereminists out there now. I would argue that there are more theremin players in the world now than there ever have been, ever. I put up these tutorials because I thought this is what I can really contribute. At the time that I started I never knew that there were things online. When I got the Etherwave, it came with a VHS tape of Lydia Kavina's Mastering the Theremin. It changed a little bit about the way I started playing. But my vision for what I wanted to play was always far exceeding my technical abilities. So when I began learning to try to play Bach and Dvorak and things like that, I had to develop techniques that I've never seen before in order to play them. So the evolution of my techniques is what I put up there. I developed techniques that quite honestly, I've never seen anyone do. I've never seen anyone deal with various aspects of the Theremin. So I decided to put up things that I thought it would really help. But then people started texting me or emailing me about the Theremini and how they were having trouble calibrating it. And that inspired an entire Theremini course. 

Rick Reid  24:43

Do you teach Theremin?

Kip Rosser  24:45


Rick Reid  24:46

In person in Pennsylvania or online or...


Kip Rosser  24:49

Until COVID I could teach occasionally in person. Then COVID happened.


Rick Reid  24:55

So I guess now you're teaching more safely over the web.


Kip Rosser  24:59

It was actually my son that inspired me to do it. He asked me how come I've never taught online? And there really wasn't any reason why I couldn't. So I created a website just called ThereminLessons.com. People can go there and book a lesson. You look it up by selecting your date on a calendar, and it takes you to PayPal. I get notification. I always respond personally, and we work it out from there. I'd like to find out what model of theremin people are playing, how long they've been playing, do they play any other instruments. All of it helps me to understand where it is they're at and what types of things that we can work on when we're together. And it's great because you can do a lesson halfway across the world. It's fabulous.

Rick Reid  25:44

Let's finish the show now with some movie music by Kip Rosser. Here is the title theme from An Idle Mind is the Devil's Playground, a 2016 indie feature film directed by Michael Jason Allen.

Rick Reid 

That was Kip Rosser with the theme from An Idle Mind is the Devil's Playground. You can learn more about Kip by following the link in this month's show notes.

Thanks so much for joining me for another 30-minute trip into the ether. And thanks to Tharsis Project, Andrew Levine, Paulo Pascual, and Kip Rosser for providing the tunes. Also, thanks to Kip Rosser for sharing stories about his Theremin adventures. I've already started planning the next episode of the Theremin 30 podcast, but I have some room for more music. So if you have professional quality, original theremin music that's either your own composition or in the Public Domain, I'd love to share it with listeners around the world. So contact me through the website. Also please tell your friends about this show and share links to it on social media. You can also rate and review Theremin 30 on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher to help me get the word out. Until next time, I'm your host Rick Reid and I'll see you in the ether.

David Brower  29:47

You've been listening to the Theremin 30 podcast. Visit Theremin 30 on the web at Theremin30.com.