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Capturing the ethereal sounds of space in the "Colonizer" Theremin/EBOW Mix




As an artist, I am constantly seeking new ways to infuse my music with unique and captivating elements. Recently, I had the opportunity to delve into experimental music and collaborate with the renowned musician/theramin artist, Pamelia Stickney. In this blog post, I want to share with you the fascinating background of the Theremin and how it elevated the song to new heights. 



The Enigmatic Theremin: When we think of space travel, certain images and sounds come to mind. For me, it's the ethereal melodies of the Theremin. This unique instrument has always fascinated me, evoking memories of the eerie space movies I watched as a child. The Theremin produces ethereal sounds by utilizing synthesized effects controlled by the movement of one's hands in the radio field.


The Inventive Mind of Leon Theremin: The Theremin was invented by Russian cellist and physicist Leon Theremin, who already achieved fame for his inventions such as the Tesla coil and the "Radio Watchman" device. While experimenting with the Watchman, Leon noticed that the pitch changed as he moved his hand around the device. Inspired, he began mimicking parts from a cello piece he remembered, "The Swan," and thus, the Theremin was born.


Leon Theremin's Legacy: Combining his musical talents with his engineering prowess, Leon showcased his instrument and musical skills through public concerts worldwide. He was not only a gifted inventor but also the creator of notable inventions like the first electronic drum machine, the "rhythmicon," and the metal detector used in prisons and airports today.


Leon's life took a dramatic turn when he fled the United States for tax and financial reasons, returning to the Soviet Union. There, he was sentenced to work in a secret lab in the Kolyma gold mines, where he invented the Buran eavesdropping system, famously known as the "Thing." Continuing his work for the KGB and the Moscow Conservatory, he was eventually fired for giving an interview to a New York Times critic. Leon taught physics at Moscow State University until his peaceful passing in Moscow in 1993 at the age of 97.



Pamelia Stickney: The Theremin Virtuoso


During a NAMM music show, I had the pleasure of meeting Pamelia Stickney, a renowned Theremin player known for her TED talk on the instrument and her groundbreaking collaborations with artists like David Byrne, Yoko Ono, and Robert Moog. Witnessing Pamelia's intricate and eclectic performance with the Theremin was a mesmerizing experience that stayed with me over the years.



Inspired by Pamelia's captivating skills, I reached out to her years later to record a Theremin version of the song "Colonizer" from my "Space And Other Things" album. After listening to the song and understanding its message of combating inequality in our world, Pamelia agreed to record theremin to accompany the song. I am honored to have her contribute one of her final Theremin performances to Colonizer and eagerly anticipate hearing her future classical compositions from her recent composer residency in Asutria.


The addition of Pamelia Stickney's Theremin to the classical interpretation of "Colonizer" has brought an otherworldly sound to the song. This collaboration pays tribute to the adventurous spirit and genius works of both Leon Theremin and Pamelia Stickney. The Theremin's ethereal melodies have elevated the song, creating a captivating sonic experience that transports listeners to an unexplored realm. It is through such collaborations that we can continuously push the boundaries of music and create something truly extraordinary.





The Evolution of the Ebow


Throughout history, countless innovations have shaped the world of music. From the invention of new instruments to the development of groundbreaking techniques, musicians and inventors have constantly sought new ways to expand the sonic possibilities of their craft. One such innovation that has captivated guitarists and enthusiasts alike is the Ebow. 


It was invented and named by Greg Heet who created it to produce sustained sounds on the guitar, mimicking the effect of a bow on a violin. The result was the creation of the "Energy Bow," or Ebow for short. It quickly became popular among guitarists, especially those exploring new musical territories. Its ability to create sustained notes with infinite sustain opened up a world of sonic experimentation, making it a favorite tool for progressive rock artists David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, The Edge of U2, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Its haunting sound, is perfect for the story of Colonizer with its future focused lyrics about humans colonizing the cosmos in the future. 


With my early background as a classically trained violinist, the Ebow sparked my interest for its violin like sustain and tones. Combined with the otherworldly sound of the theremin, they make for a great space soundtrack that pushes the boundaries of sonic exploration.   


Listen to the track featuring the Theremin and Ebow on Soundcloud here. 


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