The theremin, originally known as the etherophone, thereminophone or thereminvox is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without contact from the player. It is named after its Russian inventor, Professor Leon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.
The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other, so it can be played without being touched. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. The theremin is associated with a very eerie sound, which has led to its use in movie soundtracks such as Miklos Rozsas for Spellbound and The Lost Weekend as well as Bernard Herrmanns for The Day the Earth Stood Still and as the theme tune for the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. Theremins are also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new age music) and in popular music genres such as rock. Psychedelic rock bands in particular, such as Hawkwind, have often used the theremin in their work. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin has employed the instrument most noteablely on the highly successful song Whole Lotta Love. The theremn can also be heard in the Space Age Pop and Music Exotica Genres of the 50s and 60s.
Leon Theremin was a Russian and Soviet inventor. He is most famous for his invention of the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments. He is also the inventor of interlace, a technique of improving the picture quality of a video signal, widely used in video and television technology. His invention of “The Thing”, an espionage tool, is considered a predecessor of RFID technology. Leon Theremin after having a lengthy tour of Europe demonstrating his theremin to packed houses found his way to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928 (US1661058). Subsequently, Theremin granted commercial production rights to RCA. Although the RCA Thereminvox was not a commercial success, it fascinated audiences in America and abroad as a novelty instrument. Robert Moog, began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building theremins, and sold theremin kits which were intended to be assembled by the customer. Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Moog.
Sollie Paul Williams (August 23, 1917–October 11, 1985), known professionally as Tex Williams, was an American Western Swing musician from Ramsey, Illinois. He is best known for his talking blues style with his biggest hit being the novelty song, “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)”, which held the number one position on the Billboard charts for six weeks in 1947. “Smoke” was the No. 5 song on Billboard’s Top 100 list for 1947, and was No. 1 on the country chart that year. It can be heard during the opening scenes of the 2006 movie, Thank You for Smoking. Williams’ backing band, the Western Caravan, numbered about a dozen or so members. They attained an enviable level of fluid interplay between electric and steel guitars, fiddles, bass, accordion, trumpet, and other instruments (even an occasional harp). At first they recorded polkas for Capitol Records with limited success. That was changed by the success of “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke” written in large part by Merle Travis. In April 1956 Williams appeared on the Chrysler sponsored CBS TV broadcast “Shower of Stars”.
He is recognized as producing the world’s first photograph in 1827 – the actual year varies from different references from 1822 to 1827. Niépce took what is believed to be the world’s first photogravure etching, in 1822 of an engraving of Pope Pius VII, but the original was later destroyed when he attempted to duplicate it. The earliest surviving photogravure etchings by Niépce are of a 17th century engraving of a man with a horse and of an engraving of a woman with a spinning wheel. Niépce did not have a steady enough hand to trace the inverted images created by the camera obscura, as was popular in his day, so he looked for a way to capture an image permanently. He experimented with lithography, which led him in his attempt to take a photograph using a camera obscura. Niépce also experimented with silver chloride, which darkens when exposed to light, but eventually looked to bitumen, which he used in his first successful attempt at capturing nature photographically. He dissolved bitumen in lavender oil, a solvent often used in varnishes, and coated a sheet of pewter with this light capturing mixture. He placed the sheet inside a camera obscura to capture the picture and eight hours later he removed the sheet and washed it with the lavender oil to remove the unexposed bitumen. He began experimenting with optical images in 1793. Some of his early experiments made images, but they faded very fast. The earliest known, surviving example of a Niépce photograph or any photograph was created in 1827. Niépce called his process heliography, which literally means “sun writing”. Nevertheless, semiologist Roland Barthes, in a Spanish edition of his book “La chambre claire”, “La cámara lúcida” shows a picture from 1822, “Table ready”, a foggy photo of a table set to be used for a meal. Starting in 1829 Niepce began collaborating on photographic processes with Louis Daguerre, together they developed the physautotype, a process that used lavender oil. The partnership lasted until Niépce’s untimely death in 1833.