Kids' Commute: Weird Instruments - Theremin

May 7, 2015

Learn about "Weird Instruments" this week on Kids' Commute!

This week on Kids’ Commute, get ready for some weirdness! From the Sackbut, to the Hurdy-Gurdy, to the Theremin, to the Celesta, we’re going to have fun exploring some of the craziest and weirdest instruments on the planet! 

Are you ready to get “weirded out?!”

The theremin is named after it’s inventor, Léon Theremin, who invented the instrument in 1928. Now as you can see from the picture above, the theremin doesn’t look like a musical instrument at all, but instead sort of looks like a radio. It’s a box, with dials, and a couple of antenna on the sides. 


The way you play the theremin, is to never touch it at all. The theremin sends out electronic signals, and you wave your hand over the antenna up and down, and side to side. This interrupts those audio signals, and changes the way the instrument sounds.

The theremin is used in a lot of different ways- The Beach Boys actually used it in their song, Good Vibrations- but since it sounds kind of spooky, it’s used in a lot of science fiction films.

To give you a better idea of how the theremin is played, watch this video of Armen Ra performing, Crane.

One critic says the theremin sounds like, “A cello lost in a dense fog, crying because it does not know how to get home." What do you think the theremin sounds like?

Music piece for today:
Crane by Armen Ra

Listen to the Kids’ Commute live on Classical IPR every weekday morning at 7:40am or listen to the archived episode at the top of the post.