Soundiron has recently released THEREMIN+, a new advanced Kontakt library / instrument, based, well, you guessed, on a Theremin. I’ve gotta tell you, as an owner – and awful player – of a real theremin, I’m quite excited about this!
So, let’s check it out, shall we?
If you don’t have a clue about what a Theremin is, I’ll try to explain: the Theremin is an early electronic instrument, and the only instrument you play it without actually any physical contact. It was invented in the 1920s by the soviet Lev Termen (known to us as Leon Theremin). It was invented by mistake, when the soviet physicist was doing some research into proximity sensors. The instrument itself produces a single analog sine wave, and it’s controlled by the player using two antennas, 1 for the pitch (the closer to the antenna, the higher the pitch) and 1 for the volume (the closer to the antenna, the lower the volume will be). It sounds quite amazing and you can hear it a lot on 50s horror movies, and of course on the old Tv show Scooby-Doo.
Ok, now, we know what a theremin is, let’s talk a little bit about this Theremin+. This Kontakt instrument has two main pages Performance and Fx Rack.
On the Performance page you’ll find the theremin itself with pretty basic controllers: Swell knob, Glide knob, Vibrato amount, a simple envelope with controls for attack and release, wave shape selector with Sine, Absolute Sine, Triangle, Ramp and Square waves to select from, and a knob labeled Add which can add up to four sublayers of sounds.
Speaking of sublayers, below the actual theremin, there’s another module to select the sublayers, here, you can select from a bunch of wave shapes (depending on the instrument you have loaded), so, in fact, you can turn a pretty simple theremin sound into a more complex modern sound by mixing and matching the wave shape from the theremin with this more complex sublayers.
If you’ll be playing from a MIDI controller, the Mod wheel (CC#1) is automatically set to control the Swell, so, you can use that as your volume antenna, while the pitch wheel will give you +/- 2 octaves bends, sustain pedal (CC# 64) will hold the note played and expression pedal (CC#11) will control the vibrato amount.
So, performance wise, this is very clever, you can play your melodies with your right hand and control de amplitude with your left and vibrato with your foot.
The Fx rack page has 10 fx slots and 17 different fx to select from: Amplifier, Cabinet, chorus, compressor, distortion, EQ, filter, Flanger, jump, Lo-Fi, phaser, Reverb, Rotator, Skreamer, Stereo, Tape Saturation and Transient Master.
Delay and Reverb are the obvious choices for that classic theremin sound, but, experimentation is the key to achieving new cool sounds, right? so, between the sublayer options and the effects in the Fx Rack, you can craft some pretty wild sounds.
As I’ve said before, I own a real theremin, and the sound and behavior of the Theremin+ it’s really close to a real one with the benefits of not drifting pitch all the time!
Also, the sublayer possibilities are awesome to go beyond classic Theremin sounds. The expressiveness playing you can achieve by using the mod wheel and an expression pedal are great, and it is hard to tell the difference between a real theremin and the theremin+
All the sound design options this virtual instrument has makes really hard to find a reason not to have it. No matter if you’d use it just for regular theremin sounds or for more wild tones (maybe even bass lines), you should definitely consider this instrument for your arsenal!
Theremin+ weighs 975 MB (installed) and features 106 samples (24 bit / 48kHz Stereo and 96kHz mono uncompressed PCM Wav audio). Requires the full version of Kontakt 5.5.2 or later.
More Details: Theremin+[author image=”https://www.producerspot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/piggy-sounds-logo.jpg” ]Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]