Sunday, February 12, 2012

Steampunk on Sunday: The Aetherphone

Or, as it became known, the theremin.

Leon Theremin; scientist, saboteur, terrorist, hostage, spy, lover..
I wouldn't say this stuff if it wasn't true

Leon Theremin lived an extraordinary life, 
but he is remembered for his musical invention, 
the theremin,

 which  was played without being touched.

It's a Brave New instrument of the 20's,. 

the shiver in the spine from
 films of the 50's

 and the  sound of
brilliant Californian sunshine
 from the Beach Boys.

The best way to learn about Theremin
is the award-winning
a documentary about his life, 
his disappearance 
and his rediscovery.

Leon knew some extraordinary women.
His second wife was the  gorgeous dancer Lavinia Willians,

a marriage that scandalised Theremin's contemporaries.

A virtuoso theremin player was Clara Rockmore

She really was this beautiful.. See?

That elegant pose is Clara actually playing the instrument.
Theremin designed one just for her and she brought out of it a tone 
described as,'hauntingly poised between the violin and the human voice'
Although other musicians and composers used the theremin for new music, 
Clara played interpretations of the classics.

Here is Clara now, playing 
Le Cygne on the theremin.
Although she is  a elderly woman,
 her fingers gesture with the delicacy of a young girl
as she literally shapes the music out of the air.

This is Steampunk made real.

To try it yourself
there's an online one.

On a side note. 
I've decided on a theme for my Valentine's Day 
and, indirectly, for the Steampunk room.
Like Clara here, I've chosen swans.

I've bought one of those cheesy white plastic swans 
to use as a gift basket for Hubby's Valentine goodies


and I've sprayed it gold to make it look all Victorian and over-the-top.


Now I just need to fill it with wonderful things...


  1. I've never heard of the theremin but it's beautiful the way she plays. Thanks for sharing.

    1. My pleasure! The hardest part was finding a recording that wasn't creepy or scary, as the instrument was used a lot in horror films.
      Have a wonderful Valentine's Day. All chocolate is guaranteed calorie free!

  2. What a weirdly wonderful thing....thank you for sharing:) I like the swan too.

    1. I'm glad you like the swan. I've always felt a little guilty for liking that kind of thing but paining it gold gave it a kind of fairground ride feel. Fine for a gift basket!

  3. So interesting. I still can't quite figure out how she is even making the music. I'm gonna have to try to find that documentary.


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