Meet the Theremin

Invented by the scientist Leon Theremin, the theremin is an instrument that uses two antennas and an electromagnetic field to create sound. One antenna controls which notes the instrument plays, while the other affects the volume.

Playing the theremin requires a lot of skill! The musician must learn where in space to move their hand to find the right pitches. 

Watch a musician perform on the theremin and observe how they use their hand to create vibrato: 

 How would you describe a theremin's timbre? Is it mysterious? Sad? Haunting? 

Shostakovich used the theremin in his film score for a Russian movie, Alone. He added the theremin during a scene where a woman gets lost in a snowstorm. Doesn't the instrument sound like an eerie winter wind? 

 Shostakovich wasn't the only composer to use theremin in film scores. In the 1950s, the theremin was used for an alien movie called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The sound became so iconic that the theremin has been used in sci-fi movies ever since! 

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