Theremini

Here’s some notes about Moog’s Theremini, which leverages Animoog’s engine. We mentioned the launch of the Theremini in Spring 2014. I do happily own a Theremini myself since mid-November 2014.

I don’t plan to build lots of content for the Theremini itself, my focus will be on Animoog until Animoog’s documentation reaches a certain level of maturity. That said, it’s easy to  provide some content and pointers here. First thing to do is to make certain your Theremini is using the latest available Firmware, as of February 2015, that is version 1.1.1.

User-contributed Theremini presets:

Presets are the core of the Theremini, they determine what sound comes out of the Theremini and its parameters.

The two first user-contributed Theremini presets I was asked to host are:

Other user-contributed presets available:

Installation of presets:

  • If you have an iPad, download the free official Theremini Advanced Software Editor app. You can send to yourself the .theremini file by email, open that email on the iPad and open the .theremini file from Mail to the Theremini editor app. Then you follow the app’s instructions to upload the new presets to the Theremini
  • The easiest way to install third-party Theremini presets is via iFunBox 
  • For desktop computers, Moog provides a free Theremini Editor for MacOS X & Windows

Tips:

My tip:

  1. You don’t need to transfer third-party Theremini presets to your Theremini to play them. You can simply connect your Theremini to your iPad and select on the iPad which presets you want to play within the official Theremini app. Don’t forget to use the ‘folder’ icon to see the list of all third-party preset collections available on the Theremini

Kindly provided by rkram53:

  1. Dial back the range to C2..C5. I’ve found this gives you are pretty good and consistent spacing between notes (linearity) for most of the range
  2. Dial the pitch correction to about 10 O’clock. This will add some correction, but not too much so that you get over quantized – which at the beginning may actually make it harder for you as you want some fudge factor (portamento) between notes to try and make easy corrections
  3. Make sure you set to Chromatic scale, I set root to C , but that can be whatever you like
  4. Start with the Classic Theremini setting – and play around with it in the editor if you like
  5. Add in some delay to your liking. The default Theremin setting does not have enough
  6. Put on some slow music and try and play along with it. Don’t worry too much about the left hand to start. Just try and match pitches

By roaming on Moog’s Theremin forums, you’ll find users sharing more of their own tips on a variety of topics, such as leveraging the Theremini CV and midi capabilities.

Links:

  • Are there any existing websites focusing specifically on the Theremini?
  • ThereminWorld.com – For theremin players, not thereminis — that said, the site has content  pertinent to Theremini players as well
  • Moog’s official Theremin forum

Theremini user community:

What would be nice:

  • A common web location to share user-customized Theremini presets – I’m ready to host the files if you have any to share, I’ll post them on this website and make them available to all
  • A list of links where we can see and/or listen to great Theremini performances

Actually, those presets and list of links could be collaboratively built and hosted on GitHub. Same for the tips. But GitHub is not suited for discussions (the official Moog forums are). I might eventually move the content of this page to GitHub is enough people want to contribute.

You have ideas and time to help build a community around the Theremini? Let me know. I have plenty of ideas, but little time. I’ll be glad to participate, but for now, my focus will be on Animoog documentation. Cheers — Alex / Satri

History:

  • This page was first published in early 2015
  • It has been updated in November 2015 with new tips on installing and accessing third-party Theremini presets
  • Page updated in April 2016: I added Steffen Presley’s Theremini presets, along with other minor improvements to the page

9 thoughts on “Theremini

  1. Thank you for a great Theremini resource page! I cannot find a direct link for Synthguy – the first 32 presets load fine – how do you load the remainder?

    Ian

    1. Hi Ian, good catch! There’s only 32 presets in there! I’ll contact Synthguy for the remainder — Alex / Satri

  2. Hi Ian and Satri,
    The AltLibrary 1 theremini file by SynthGuy does contain 65 presets. When you send that file to the Theremini, only the first 32 presets will load on the Theremini. You can use the Theremini Editor Software to break up the file into two 32 preset files, but you will have one preset left over.
    Gary

  3. First of all thank you for this amazing you’ve created!!!

    Actually I’m not sure that there are 65 presets in Synthguy’s library…
    In the file I’ve downloaded the preset resovibro is doubled ( position 8&18) with no different settings ( at a first glance ).

  4. Thanks for the presets! Bummer that the Theremini can only hold 32 presets at once and that the Theremini Editor doesn’t have a way to preview them.

  5. Tanks Soldier!!! Excellent Website !!! When I was a child my dad had a kit theremin he only let me play it if I didn’t touch the tip …in short it was shelved most of the time – in my punk years I shamelessly not remembering the wand was to the theremin would use it as a bass bow it wasn’t till I wasn’t until my late 20’s did I start to respect anything again nevertheless people I hung out with didn’t – it became no more- The iPad let me actually own a “moog” something I never thought possible,being as destitute financially(personal problems) -(iPad) was my first investment in since my Yamaha motif . I always have loved the theremin when the App Store opened I thought they were for the Mac ; of course my first app ,which was one of the first, was the Theremin- when I found out it works on the new iPods off I left for the store –the rest seems to be making his-story – “back to the brass-tax-man!”
    For my birthday last year my daughter got me the theremini-!!! My dad then passed away the next month – he was an accordion player-I got his Roland it’s pretty awesome- nevertheless what I’m getting or trying to is YOR SIGHT has been a WONDERFUL release from the reality of the past year & I’m extremely grateful- but as for my Theremin skills for some reason my volume hand is programmed in reverse , it’s taken a ton of mentalism – could you recommend a foot controller that would help me -my goal is to play the blues -for that matter do you know of any foot controllers (?)

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm! I admit I don’t know that much about foot controllers, but I do have a ‘MIDI Expression iO’ from http://AudioFront.net and I’m extremely satisfied with it. It allows me to easily attribute ranges of MIDI values to my expression pedals. Real fun to benefit from such a setup. I plan to write a blog entry about this eventually. Cheers Michael, enjoy your Theremini — Alex / Satri

  6. Hello and thank you for the great site.
    I am an electronic music enthusiast and thinking of buying a used theremini.
    Do you know if the instrument is already registered with Moog is it necessary / possible to re-register it to be obtain the free software editor?

    1. Hi Den, the Theremini software doesn’t need registering and can be downloaded by anyone as far as I can remember. You should have no issue using it with a used Theremini :-) You can in fact download it right away if you want to.

      If you do buy a Theremini (I suggest trying one first, it’s a pretty ‘different’ and monophonic instrument), I hope you’ll enjoy it :-) Cheers — Alex / Satri

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