Archive for Leon Theremin

What Lies Beneath the Creative Activity: A Hollow Study of the Realm of Unconscious

Posted in art and psychology with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2010 by artodisiac

I will be diving deep to the studies of unconscious and behaviours lying under the creative activity for my VIS512 paper, here is the abstract of it…

Ebru Sürek

Istanbul, 08.03.2010

Abstract: It seems that there lies a strict distinction between what is perceived as real and virtual for the most in our modern world. However, as imagination pulled the trigger, the reality started to be questioned in time and that was probably the point where the progress started. Playing with perceptions and reality using a bit of imagination changed a lot throughout history. Do the names like Galileo, Archimedes, Edison ring a bell? There is, in fact, no need to go back that far. The first few decades of the twentieth century for example, saw a great deal of experimentation that dived deep into the imaginative world of literature, music, visual arts and psychology. Writers and musicians tried to go out of the strict borders of representational conventions, artists seemed to explore unconscious and depicted inner experiences, dreams, visions and fantasies. From automatic drawings of surrealist artists, gothic works of writers such as Gustav Meyrink and miraculous tunes of an untouchable instrument invented by Leon Theremin, a close proximity can be realized with the researches of psychologists who were engaged in similar explorations.

The purpose of this study is to examine the psychological motives lying behind the creation of artistic works. For this aim, a number of pioneering studies will be studied to focus on the behaviours of artists during their creative activities.

The main reference of this study will be one of the most important figures of psychology, Carl Gustav Jung. The first part will provide an introductory framework to the analysis of psyche of the artist through Jung’s world famous dream analysis. Jung will further be cited in this part through his studies concentrating on unconscious and the translation of dream symbolism into works of art.

The second part of the study will provide other related studies on some projective tests (i.e Rorschach, TAT (Thematic Apperception Test), Koch’s Tree Test, etc.) that are used to analyze behaviours of artists.

Every individual can use art to bring forward messages from his or her own personal unconscious. But as Jung puts forward, the vital role of the artist is to help us see the messages that emanate from the collective unconscious. He claims that the artist seizes the image in his unconscious, brings it into relation with conscious values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries according to their powers.

At this point, some examples from Turkish artists will be given to finalize the study. A broad range of art works from painting to literature will be analyzed in the light of the conceptual tools covered in this study. Together with the theoretical analysis, a couple of interviews and projective tests will also be provided so as to have a more comprehensive and interpretive look at the psychological motives lying behind the creation of artistic works.

Keywords: Psyche, arts and psychology, unconscious, projective tests for artists, dream analysis, Carl Gustav Jung, Leon Theremin

Tuning the untouchable

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 24, 2010 by artodisiac

It is a shame that I have never ever heard about this magical so to speak instrument in my life. And I consider myself as a curious soundhunter! Anyway, better later than never. For the last couple of days, I am searching the net for a teeny weeny information about theremin. Now I have enough theoretical information waiting to be practiced in my next sound project. I am also thinking about using it as an interactive project for an exhibition on unconscious I am currently working on. I think it is quite an unearthly experience. What fascinated me was its resemblance to unconscious. As dreams reveal whatever lies under your conscious, theremin uncovers this dreamy sound that seems to come out of nowhere. You can not hear, see, or sense anything without it but theremin makes you tune the air and enables you to make the music of your body out of nothing, or at least something invisible. Therefore this makes it very suitable for my project but first, I have to build it through some DIY instructions. Hopefully I will also learn about its fundementals in the sound class.

What is Theremin

Theremin is the only musical instrument you play without touching. It was one of the very first electronic instruments that was invented by a young Russian physicist named Lev Sergeivich Termen (known in the West as Leon Theremin) in October 1920 after the outbreak of the Russian Civil War.

After positive reviews at Moscow electronics conferences, Theremin demonstrated the device to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin was so impressed with the device that he began taking lessons for playing it, commissioned six hundred of the instruments for distribution throughout the Soviet Union, and sent Theremin on a trip around the world to demonstrate the latest Soviet technology and the invention of electronic music. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which time he demonstrated his invention to packed houses, Theremin found his way to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928.

The theremin is unique among musical instruments in that it is played without physical contact. The musician stands in front of the instrument and moves his or her hands in the proximity of two metal antennas. The distance from one antenna determines frequency (pitch), and the distance from the other controls amplitude (volume). Moving the hand closer to the pitch antenna causes the pitch to raise, and moving the hand closer to the volume loop decreases the volume and eventually silences the instrument. The theremin is tuned by distance not by pitch. Any motion of the body or any solid object in the playing fields will affect the note.

Easy to learn but notoriously difficult to master, theremin performance presents two challenges: reliable control of the instrument’s pitch with no guidance (no keys, valves, frets, or finger-board positions), and minimizing undesired portamento that is inherent in the instrument’s microtonal design.

The theremin was originally used to play classical music, transcriptions and original compositions. Lev Termen and his students performed classics both as solos and ensemble pieces.

In the mid-20s Clara Rockmore, then a young violinist, met him and soon became the greatest player of the theremin. She devised a new technique for the theremin that made possible virtuosic performances and her work and concretizing established the theremin as a serious instrument at the time.

In the popular music realm, Samuel Hoffman mastered the instrument and featured it in specialty big band numbers. Later the theremin was discovered by film composers and was used an integral part of such scores as Spellbound and The Day the Earth Stood Still. But it became type cast as a spooky sound effect and eventually was used non musically in hundreds of B movies.Over the past ten years the theremin has enjoyed a tremendous resurgance and has been popping up in countless rock bands, home made videos, performance pieces and on the sympnonic concert stage. Having the most simple and elegent playing interface of any instrument of the electric age, Leon Theremin’s invention continues to delight and inspire people around the world.