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Make otherworldly music with this online theremin emulator

August 13, 2014

The theremin is one of the coolest instruments ever invented, but also one of the more difficult to get your hands on. It’s not that they’re insanely expensive, or even super hard to make, but people just don’t have them sitting around their houses like old guitars and pianos. If you want to try one out, you typically have to know a thereminist or feel comfortable overstaying your welcome in a music store.

Not anymore! Earlier this year, the website and app design company femur developed an online theremin that anyone can play from the comfort of their own computer. It’s touch responsive and highly variable, with knobs controlling delay time, feedback, scuzz, and waveform. Go play around with it and make your day better.

The theremin was developed by by the Russian scientist Léon Theremin in the 1920s as a byproduct of his experiments in magnetism and sound. Its antennae create an electromagnetic field that the player can manipulate by moving their hands through it, as if making music by touching air. It’s an easy instrument to mess around with but notoriously difficult to master. Its widest use is for cheesy UFO sounds, but every now and then a musician comes along and pulls some beautiful, otherworldly sounds out of it. Just watch Clara Rockmore, the greatest theremin virtuoso of all time, play “The Swan.”

It might be impossible for most of us to get to that level. But why not have some fun trying?

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