Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey Reviews

  • Feb 24, 2019

    Excellent interviews and a fascinating story probably, but ineptly told and poorly constructed by the director/producer/writer.

    Excellent interviews and a fascinating story probably, but ineptly told and poorly constructed by the director/producer/writer.

  • Aug 17, 2017

    70% lets not overdo it. It's interesting.

    70% lets not overdo it. It's interesting.

  • Aug 30, 2015

    What an incredible story. Very touching.

    What an incredible story. Very touching.

  • Jun 02, 2014

    Musicians & sound studies folks should take note. Everything from Cold War spies, to 1950's Science fiction & the Beach Boys are apart this peculiar history of an electronic instrument & its enigmatic inventor

    Musicians & sound studies folks should take note. Everything from Cold War spies, to 1950's Science fiction & the Beach Boys are apart this peculiar history of an electronic instrument & its enigmatic inventor

  • Mar 24, 2013

    The Theremin is regarded as the first electronic instrument. It has no keyboard, and is instead controlled by moving one's hands around a pair of antennae to control the pitch and amplitude. I expected this to be a sort of travelogue of how cool is the Theremin - the fact that it was "introduced" as the weird woo-woo sound on The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations", and so on. This documentary shows that there is way more to both the instrument and its inventor. If you think you might be kinda curious - definitely catch this on Netflix - because it is a charming and eye opening documentary. Leon Theremin was quite a personality. He was extremely devoted to developing his instrument, had a band of followers, and cared little for convention. He alienated many of his (probably otherwise liberal) friends when, in the twenties, he dared to marry a black woman. Shortly thereafter, his story gets weirder when he disappears from the NYC scene - apparently abducted by the KGB! In addition to exposing Theremin's personal story, much is revealed about the instrument that was new to me. Theremin and his protege Clara Rockmore envisioned the Theremin as a serious concert instrument. Several classical pieces were written for it - including a Concerto for Theremin and Orchestra - and concerts sold out in Carnegie Hall well before it entered pop culture. It comes out that there was a sort of tussle between the devotees - notably Rockmore - who wanted to develop its concert potential, and the wider attention it got in some rock music and as an eerie effect in film scores. Among those interviewed are Brian Wilson, who talks a little about the development of "Good Vibrations", and Robert Moog, who as the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer, is probably the most important person to have popularized the use of electronic instruments. Moog was inspired by the Theremin, and made his own versions of it (which Rockmore regards as inferior to Theremin's) first as a hobbyist and later as a devotee. There is a lot of fascinating material here and if you're the sort of person who knows a little about the Theremin, you'll enjoy leaving this film knowing a lot.

    The Theremin is regarded as the first electronic instrument. It has no keyboard, and is instead controlled by moving one's hands around a pair of antennae to control the pitch and amplitude. I expected this to be a sort of travelogue of how cool is the Theremin - the fact that it was "introduced" as the weird woo-woo sound on The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations", and so on. This documentary shows that there is way more to both the instrument and its inventor. If you think you might be kinda curious - definitely catch this on Netflix - because it is a charming and eye opening documentary. Leon Theremin was quite a personality. He was extremely devoted to developing his instrument, had a band of followers, and cared little for convention. He alienated many of his (probably otherwise liberal) friends when, in the twenties, he dared to marry a black woman. Shortly thereafter, his story gets weirder when he disappears from the NYC scene - apparently abducted by the KGB! In addition to exposing Theremin's personal story, much is revealed about the instrument that was new to me. Theremin and his protege Clara Rockmore envisioned the Theremin as a serious concert instrument. Several classical pieces were written for it - including a Concerto for Theremin and Orchestra - and concerts sold out in Carnegie Hall well before it entered pop culture. It comes out that there was a sort of tussle between the devotees - notably Rockmore - who wanted to develop its concert potential, and the wider attention it got in some rock music and as an eerie effect in film scores. Among those interviewed are Brian Wilson, who talks a little about the development of "Good Vibrations", and Robert Moog, who as the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer, is probably the most important person to have popularized the use of electronic instruments. Moog was inspired by the Theremin, and made his own versions of it (which Rockmore regards as inferior to Theremin's) first as a hobbyist and later as a devotee. There is a lot of fascinating material here and if you're the sort of person who knows a little about the Theremin, you'll enjoy leaving this film knowing a lot.

  • Mar 17, 2013

    I show excerpts of this to my Computers in Music class. Fascinating man, unintentionally funny Brian Wilson.

    I show excerpts of this to my Computers in Music class. Fascinating man, unintentionally funny Brian Wilson.

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    John B Super Reviewer
    Dec 31, 2012

    A very very cool documentary on the inventor of one of the most imaginative musical instruments ever constructed - the theremin. Known best for being in the background of the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, the theremin provides an unlikely partner to the composition of both classical and modern works.

    A very very cool documentary on the inventor of one of the most imaginative musical instruments ever constructed - the theremin. Known best for being in the background of the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, the theremin provides an unlikely partner to the composition of both classical and modern works.

  • May 13, 2012

    A fine, straight-forward documentary that relates an interesting story.

    A fine, straight-forward documentary that relates an interesting story.

  • Feb 16, 2012

    This movie is the best ever done about electronic instruments featured in 50s sci-fi movies. Peace, Tex Shelters

    This movie is the best ever done about electronic instruments featured in 50s sci-fi movies. Peace, Tex Shelters

  • Jan 28, 2012

    A fascinating look into the history of one of the strangest, yet beautiful instruments in existence.

    A fascinating look into the history of one of the strangest, yet beautiful instruments in existence.