Moog Music’s Etherwave Theremin Is Back
Own a piece of music history with Moog’s newest instrument: Etherwave Theremin. Based on the company’s original Etherwave circuitry and aesthetic, designed by Bob Moog himself in 1996, this evolution of the instrument delivers improved precision, portability, and playability for the professional thereminist or curious newcomer. Now shipping worldwide.
For over 60 years, Moog theremins have captured the imagination of players and audiences alike. Most recently over the last two and a half decades, Moog’s Etherwave Standard and Etherwave Plus have set the bar for performance theremin design. Now, the all-time best-selling theremin models get an update to become simply Etherwave Theremin.
The only musical instrument that is played without touching, the theremin is controlled by moving one’s hands in the air in the proximity of two metal antennas: one exists to determine pitch and the other determines the volume. Higher notes are played by moving the hand closer to the pitch antenna, while louder notes are played by moving the hand away from the volume antenna. Throughout history, performers have achieved unprecedented expression by mastering this unique connection between the hands, the body, the environment, and the instrument.
The theremin’s elegant simplicity and inherently expressive nature caught the attention of Bob Moog, founder of Moog Music and inventor of the Moog modular synthesizer, at an early age. His lifelong love affair with the instrument began with the build of his first theremin at age 14 and concluded with his final theremin design: the original Etherwave. Today, the legacy of the Moog theremin continues inside the employee-owned company’s Asheville, North Carolina factory with the hand-built production of Etherwave Theremin.
The Evolution of the Etherwave Theremin
The new Etherwave Theremin focuses on the preservation of Bob Moog’s legendary theremin circuits to retain all the charm and character that made its predecessors so unique and sought after, while adding a host of new benefits:
- Improved bass response and stability in the lowest registers
- Updated antenna connections to enable quick assembly and easy removal for travel
- Quick-release mic stand adapter for attaching and detaching the instrument from mic stands
- Mute control for setting the instrument into a standby mode or used for “pitch preview” via headphones
- CV output integration from Etherwave Plus (Gate Out, Pitch Out, Vol. Out) for connecting with other modular, Eurorack, and CV-controlled instruments
Plus, Moog has developed a custom-fit, tear-resistant Etherwave SR Series Case with generous padding and plenty of storage for safe and convenient transport of the instrument. Designed with artists for artists, these cases have been developed specifically for the touring musician.
For the novice enthusiast or the seasoned professional player, Etherwave Theremin carries on the Etherwave legacy with a design that is refined for the modern thereminist. To learn more about the new Etherwave Theremin, click here.
How Exactly Does the Theremin Work?
While the theremin is the only instrument that can be played without physical contact, making it sound musical requires control and precision.
The theremin is controlled by moving one’s hands in the air in the proximity of two metal antennas: one exists to determine pitch and the other determines volume. Higher notes are played by moving the hand closer to the pitch antenna, while louder notes are played by moving the hand away from the volume antenna.
“The brilliance of this technology is that Leon Theremin determined that if you have an electrical field around [the pitch] antenna and it’s connected to a circuit, and you have an electrical field around [the volume] antenna connected to another circuit, then by bringing your hands near these electrical fields you are actually altering these electrical fields in such a way that it affects the circuits,” award-winning author and composer Albert Glinsky describes. “These circuits eventually go to something that is going to produce an analog sound that comes out of a speaker, and you will hear it.”
The theremin produces a tone close to a sine wave. It is a monophonic instrument, meaning it plays one tone at a time (unless it is used as a MIDI controller). Originally imagined to accompany or replace orchestral instruments like the violin and cello, the theremin has stood on its own and continues to stand the test of time.