News & Tips
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December 22, 2016 - Was a theremin on your wish list this year? Maybe it's time to treat yourself!
September 22, 2016 - If anyone was born to play the theremin, it's Lydia Kavina.
Don't miss this article and podcast complete with additional videos and interviews.
August 8, 2016 - Leon Theremin takes center stage on the Radio! Yesterday, BBC Radio 4 Extra aired a play based on a couple of intriguing chapters of Leon Theremin's life. Light on music and specific details, the story is interesting nonetheless.
July 21, 2016 - Brandon Fowler of Texas shared his hard case solution for his Zep Theremin via Facebook. Here's what he had to say: "Home made case for my theremin. If any of you have friends that work at a dentist office, they likely get a lot of cases like this with tools in em. They usually throw em away. That's where I got this one and a couple of mic cases. I had some leftover studio foam but you can use whatever's handy." We think this an excellent, creative storage/transport idea. Do you have an idea you'd like to share with us and 'our' musicians? We always love hearing from you!
May 17, 2016 - Occasionally we hear from one of 'our' musicians who have misplaced or lost their power supply. Many try substituting another supply that they have on hand. Usually this does not work. A power supply that is not standard for your instrument is, in most cases, not compatible. Additional supplies are available for purchase if your original one goes missing. International supplies are available, too!
April 26, 2016 - Live theremin performance alert! Theremin virtuoso Lydia Kavina will be playing iconic theremin selections with the Seattle Symphony on June 20th. The program, entitled Spellbound: The Theremin Returns is scheduled to include music from Spellbound, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Mars Attacks, Ed Wood, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you find yourself anywhere near Seattle, don't miss this unique and rare event.
April 20, 2016 - If you are not hearing your theremin or the signal is intermittent, there's a good chance that your cable(s) could be the culprit. This integral part of your setup can literally be the weak link between a successful session and a complete bust. Make sure you check your cables on a regular basis.
Kinks can lead to internal cable breakage. Tension on connectors can also lead to failure. It's not always evident with a visual inspecition. Take care of your cables and they will take care of you!
April 12, 2016 - The theremin is an RF (Radio Frequency) device. This characteristic is what makes the theremin the great musical instrument that it is BUT it also creates the opportunity for interference. It's always a good idea to keep your theremin away from items/situations that encourage interference with the theremin's signal. Flourescent lights and neon signs are obvious culprits. Less obvious are dimmer switches and working computer monitors. Keep your instrument away from large metal objects (think metal folding chairs, large high hat/cymbal setups) as this metal mass can effectively mute your theremin, too.
April 5, 2016 - As you are visiting a site about theremins, I'm guessing you might also have an interest in the history of the electronic modular synthesizer. YOU NEED TO SEE THIS! Currently available to stream via Netflix, buy via iTunes, you can also acquire it via other platforms worldwide. Go now!
March 29, 2016 - Every once in a while, we get a question about the difference between the Great Sounding Theremin at a Great Price and the Zep Theremin. Internally these instruments are virtually the same. They sound the same, their setup is comparable as is their pricing. The difference is in the cabinetry. The Great Sounding Theremin at a Great Price is a table top model, whereas the Zep Theremin is a mic stand mounted instrument. It depends on your application as to which one is right for you!
March 23, 2016 - Customs charges can be a rude surprise for International musicians. These fees can be an unfortunate barrier to purchase for some. We do not want our friends to encounter an upsetting situation, so we recommend that if you are unfamiliar with purchasing items from overseas, please check with your local postal authorities about the possibility of Customs charges, VAT or importation fees. We claim the true and actual value of instruments shipped. Thanks to our musicians - past, present and future - domestic and International!
March 9, 2016 - Theremin pioneer and virtuoso Clara Rockmore was honored in a unique way by Google on what would have been her 105th birthday. The daily Google Doodle featured a likeness of Clara. But Google did not stop there! This likeness was the gateway to an interactive doodle. A fairly rare occurrance, Google gave everyone the opportunity to 'play' the theremin via their computer, tablet or phone. It you missed it the first time, you can still check it out thanks to the archive. Here's a link to Clara's Doodle so you too can 'play'!
We love it!
March 8, 2016 - We are here to help circumvent the power mismatch issue! As we all know, power standards throughout the world are NOT standard in comparison. What's universal in the United States is not compatible with most other countries. Our instruments are built with U.S. standard supplies. If you wish to play a Burns Theremin outside of North America, we recommend purchasing an International Power Supply. We will include the plug that is correct for the country of destination.
If you are interested in the Zep Theremin or Great Sounding Theremin at a Great Price, another way to get around this mismatch is to purchase a battery powered model. These single antenna models can be powered by a single 9 volt battery (included). This option is not available for the B3 series of instruments. The Handheld Theremin is only available with battery power - no supply headaches!
Of course, if you are handy, you can replace the U.S. supply with one that is of your country's standard yourself. Our instruments need to receive between 12 and 24 volts DC to play properly.
In other power supply news, if you have misplaced your U.S. standard supply, you can pick up a new one HERE.
March 2, 2016 - When you touch the volume antenna of instruments produced by several other theremin manufacturers, there is a distinct popping sound. This isn't the case with Burns Theremins! Each and every one of our instruments do not 'pop' when you touch the volume antenna. A common practice used to mute the instrument, your finger or palm placed on the volume antenna will not mar your performance when you play one of our instruments.
February 23, 2016 - Although there's more and more theremin music available every day, occasionally we like to check in with the classics. A little over a week ago, Svengoolie ran This Island Earth. It reminded us how good a film score can be and called us to another viewing of Forbidden Planet (arguably our all time favorite movie music).
If you are in the mood to enjoy a movie accompanied by our favorite instrument, here's a list of a few of we consider highlights: Forbidden Planet (a must), The Day The Earth Stood Still, Mars Attacks!, The Lost Weekend and Ed Wood. Some movies are easier to watch than others, but listening is always a pleasure. What's your favorite?
February 16, 2016 - Our instruments are built with guitar amplifiers in mind. We use Fender (Fender example) and Vox amps (Vox example) in our construction shop. This conscious choice was made because guitar amps are the most plentiful and economical for musicians the world over.
If you are in the market for an amplifier for use with your theremin, you might want to take a look at one with built in effects. Although in no way required, effects such as delay, reverb and chorus can be a lot of fun and add to your theremin experience. When shopping, try taking your theremin into your local music shop to try out the various setups. Not all amps are created equal and it can come down to a matter of personal opinion/choice. Even if the store is crowded, it's likely you will be the most popular person in the shop!
February 9, 2016 - Occasionally we get questions about gig bag availability. Currently, we do not offer bags branded with the Burns logo. That might change, but in the meantime here are some thoughts about bags.
We have found that camera bags work especially well for the Great Sounding Theremin at a Great Price, the Zep Theremin, Handheld Theremin and the B3 Theremin. Tripod bags are appropriate for the B3 Deluxe Theremin and the B3 Pro Theremin. If you are in the market for one, look for a bag with sufficient padding. Divided pockets can be a plus (a great place to stash cables) as long as it does not impact sizing of the main compartment. Amazon, eBay and camera stores such as B&H are great places to start your search.
February 2, 2016 - A fundamental theremin concept is 'Zero Beat'. Tuning your theremin so that it is quiet when your had is away from the pitch antenna is one of the first things most thereminists master when embarking on their theremin journey. There are endless discussions on the internet about 'zero beat'. If you are searching for information, here are links to a couple of resources.
Kip Rosser has created an excellent video with extensive explanation and demonstration for pitch and volume models. Thomas Grillo has produced a great video featuring 'pitch only' models (including the Zep Theremin and the Handheld Theremin). If you are looking for a written definition, I cannot do better than Kevin Kissinger's explanation.
January 26, 2016 - We get it. The theremin is a rather obscure instrument. We here at Burns Theremins are doing what we can to correct this situation. Did you know that we are not alone? There's a whole world of community, help and instruction out there. Here's a few people and groups that can help you along with your theremin journey. Community stops include ThereminWorld. Individual instruction can be had from Thomas Grillo and Kip Rosser as well as Europe's Theremin Academy. Thomas has also produced an excellent instructional DVD (available from us or for immediate download via Amazon). Carolina Eyck's detailed book 'The Art of Playing Theremin' is an excellent resource, too! Don't be afraid to ask a question. Lots of folks are willing to help.
January 19, 2016 - Most thereminists play their instruments set up with the pitch rising as the hand approaches the pitch antenna. Did you know you can tune your theremin so that the reverse happens? Some people are more comfortable playing with the pitch sinking as they attack the pitch antenna. An example is Shueh-li Ong. It's a simple trick. Once you find zero beat, use the pitch knob to tune to the opposite side. Give it a try. You may find this alternate setup useful!
January 12, 2016 - Although in no way required, effects are a great way to expand your repertoire of sounds. And their introduction to the theremin signal can be great fun, too. The easiest way to introduce effects to your instrument is via guitar pedals. Delay, reverb and chorus are the most likely candidates, but do not let these recommendations stop you from exploring the vast array available. Many amplifiers have built in effects. This can be an easy and cost effective addition to your gear. If you wish to let your imagination rule, you might want to take your cue from Gordon Charlton. His inventiveness astounds. We particularly like his use of egg beaters and whisks to add texture to his theremin sound. Enjoy the music! (Photo via MusicMonks.com)
January 5, 2016 - Occasionally new thereminists ask why their instrument is a little wiggly when mounted on a mic stand. Our mic stand mounts slip over the threads of a standard US mic stand and sits snugly on the stand, but there's a catch. Please remove the retaining nut before mounting the instrument. The nut will prevent the instrument from completely slipping over the threads. The stand pictured above is available via Amazon. If you are in the market for a mic stand, you might want to consider purchasing locally if free shipping is unavailable. It's heavy. Enjoy the music!
We are such fans of this new video, performance and composition by Canada's Victor Herbiet. By mounting the Zep Theremin on it's side, Victor has created a new way to play the theremin AND the saxophone! Check out this wonderful performance. Sheet music for his composition is available, too. We look forward to seeing what else this incredibly talented musician has for us in the future. In the meantime, we LOVE this piece.
Recently we were extremely fortunate to visit our friend Marios at his shop Amola Kalimba in Athens, Greece. Marios is the purveyor of fine, handmade instruments from all over the world - including Burns Theremins. Expect to see more photos of our visit.
New Burns Theremins Logo design merchandise is now available via Cafe Press. T-Shirts, sweatshirts, mugs and more are ready and waiting for you. More designs will be coming your way soon!
On Sunday, September 9, 2014, the CBC's Sunday Edition with Michael Enright devoted the entire show to the theremin. We thoroughly enjoyed the program which features thereminist Clara Venice and author Sean Michaels (US Conductors). We recommend clicking the link and settling back for a most enjoyable listen.