It’s 100 years since Leon Theremin invented a strange electronic musical instrument. Moog is celebrating by releasing the Claravox Centennial Theremin – the most versatile theremin ever produced.
The Theremin is that extraordinary invention that led directly to the development of electronic music and synthesizers. Although strange and difficult to master its influence and mystique is legendary and can’t be underestimated. It was a real instrument in a classical sense and required a virtuoso musician to play it. Claravox is named after one such artist, violin prodigy Clara Rockmore from the Soviet Union who toured the US in the 1930s dazzling and baffling audiences with classical performances on this very unusual electronic instrument.
Bob Moog first came across the Theremin in an issue of Electronics World and built his own from the plans in the magazine. By 1954, at the age of 19, he and his father were building and selling Theremins out of their home in Queens, New York.
The Theremin is controlled by moving your hands in the air near two metal antennas. The upright one determines the pitch and the horizontal one determines the volume. Your hands alter the electrical fields around the antennas which affect the circuits and controls the parameters. The sound generated was a pure monophonic sine wave and was thought to be an ideal accompaniment to violin or cello. But the sound and originality have stood the test of time on its own.
This looks stunning. A vintage departure from the odd-looking white blimps of recent times to embrace something altogether more classy. They’ve packed int he features offering Traditional and Modern performance modes so you can choose between classic heterodyne analog oscillator and multimode DSP oscillators with assignable scales, quantization and octave ranges. An analog wave shaping circuit gives you some sound-sculpting possibilities and an analog BBD delay fills the space with spiralling echoes.
It has USB, MIDI and CV inputs and outputs for connecting to everything and you have a lot of front panel controls for instant control and patch saving. There’s even a software editor available for deeper control and fiddling.
The Claravox Centennial is beautifully made with brass antennas, cloth-bound control panels and a fine-grain walnut cabinet. There’s an optional stand that turns it into an awesome piece of musical art.
What a beautiful thing. Check out the performance of Clair de Lune in the video below.
The Claravox Centennial is available through Moog dealers for $1,499.