Tag: Noodling


After a few rehearsals, and a bunch of play-list alterations, and heaps of experimentation, we were ready to go.

Our resident tech manager hooked up the Theremini in stereo (using guitar leads from both L and R outputs into an equaliser box, then via 2 microphone leads into 2 channels of the mixing desk, allocating them hard L and R ) to the PA system, flanking guitars had their own amps and the drummer…well…drummed unaided (I am guessing in a bigger venue, with a fancier sound system he would have his drums miked also?).

I found a space (the Theremin does not like to share air, so a physical distance around the instrument is necessary to calibrate it so it can be played) in the middle of the band and set up. It felt awesome to play like that – some songs worked really well with the Theremin, others I sat out, but it looked like the audience enjoyed it, and there was LOTS of interest in what that weird instrument was, and why I was waving around, and how that waving around controlled the instrument. That said, noodling was loads of fun – Theremini and Bass is a groovy combination that I would love to explore some more.

Note to self: monitoring what I am playing is _really_ important. Going through a PA usually means I am behind the speakers, so when the band is loud I cannot hear myself, making pitching problematic (or is that just avant-garde? I guess it depends how confidently I play awful notes). I must investigate either a splitter or fold-back speaker, should such a thing happen again.

The “out” maximum device volume when plugged into the guitar-jack L-R sockets is fixed by the device settings. The “volume” knob on the Theremini ceases to do anything when plugged in to anything but the headphones socket. In a revelation, I accidentally discovered that I can control the overall device volume level (not the volume antenna volume) of a preset by pressing the “setup” button, which switches between status and edit modes, then twiddling the “effect” knob raises and lowers the device volume. I am assuming edit mode also lets me tweak other parameters live, and must explore this in less time-critical moments. This was SO handy as previously I was tweaking the gain and volume on my channel on the mixing desk to equalise levels (as no 2 presets seem to be as loud as each other).

I love it that I am learning heaps by making mistakes.

Chung Kuo (ish)

I had a song stuck in my head – “Chung Kuo” by Vangelis, from his “China” album – well, more correctly the bass line (a 4 note arpeggio that is really catchy), and I set about trying to convert it into notes

I discovered D-2 A-3 A-2 C-2 more or less duplicates it, and set about practising tightly squeezed off notes using the “All Your Bass” preset, tuned to Ionian scale, in the key of C (I like this scale for some reason). It took AGES to get reliable notes that were clipped uniformly. I then used these as a loop, running roughly 30 seconds.

I made 5 copies of this loop and copied it across to separate loop folders on my Ditto+ Looper pedal, it then changed the name to BT.WAV (Backing Track) and generated a LOOP.WAV in each folder that matched the length of the bass loop – something I did not know it was going to do.

Connecting my Ditto+ back to the Theremini, I could play the Backing Track and practise over it, then when I stomped on record, I assumed it would lay down a composite LOOP.WAV that contained both the backing track and the new layer containing my noodling – alas, LOOP.WAV only contained the overlay, so I had to merge them using Audacity in post production. I also stuck together 5 versions (or movements), and did a little fade-in and fade-out to finsh.

I like that I did not need to do any actual sound altering – what you hear is what I generated live. I have a growing collection of favourite Theremini presets – downloaded and original that do lovely things with both antennae – I particularly like those that let you use the volume antennae to shape the envelope of the note as well as it’s timbre and volume.

I like this collection of stuff a lot, and will return to the project of re-creating the rest of Vangelis’ original song, which was my original intent – more work to there, but a really enjoyable recording session.