Recordings Made of Electric Music (Apr, 1934)

Isn’t this a theremin?

Recordings Made of Electric Music

AN ELECTRONIC device which uses oscillating radio tubes and transforms the resultant howls into music, has created a great deal of interest in London, where the first phonographic recording of such music was recently made.

A steel rod, about one and one half feet high, is connected to a special electronic device. The operator stands before this rod and by waving his hand at different distances varies the electrical capacity between his body and the radio tube grids.

The resultant music is something like that produced on a musical saw. It is attracting considerable attention abroad.

  1. Don says: November 15, 20079:52 am

    It’s a “robot orchestra”?? Yeah, right.

  2. Jon B says: November 15, 200710:26 am

    Yes, that\’s definitely a theremin. The guy in the photo might be Leon Theremin himself, but it\’s hard to say for sure given the angle.

  3. jayessell says: November 15, 200712:04 pm


    That’s not a robot orchestra.
    This is a robot orchestra!


  4. glindsey says: November 15, 200712:25 pm

    It is, indeed, an early theremin; however, later theremins tended to have two antennae, one for pitch and one for volume. This one appears to have a single antenna.

    I’ve always wanted to build one of those.

  5. Neil Russell says: November 15, 20072:33 pm

    Debate rages about which type of theremin is better, analog or digital. Personally I love them all. It’s a shame they don’t get the same attention in movies that they used to. There’s nothing spookier in a sci-fi or horror flick.
    And the theremin can make some beautiful music as well, there’s video all over Youtube of people working magic with the theremin. They turn up on ebay too, many under $200. If I were musically inclined I would get one, but I can barely play a radio! 🙂

  6. Blurgle says: November 15, 20074:44 pm

    I’m almost positive that’s Leon Theremin. Modern Mechanix Magazine was just a bit late with this story, since the theremin was invented over a decade earlier.

  7. Alan B. Barley says: April 27, 20112:34 pm

    While on his “good will tour”, he spied for the USSR. Under disputed circumstances, Leon Theremin returned to the USSR. Where he was imprisoned and sent to forced labor in the Kolyma gold mines. False reports of his execution were published, Theremin was, in fact, put to work in a secret laboratory inside the Gulag slave-camp system, where he developed important electronic espionage technology. Even though still a state prisoner, in 1947, Theremin was awarded the Stalin prize for his inventions. Full deteails at

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.