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.