After a Century, the Theremin Still Pops Up in Pop Music

The eerie instrument invented by accident and loved by Lenin still carries a tune

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In 1949, a teenager named Robert Moog was leafing through the pages of Electronics World magazine when he came across the schematic for a musical instrument called the theremin. Instantly recognizable for its ethereal, mournful voice, the theremin features two antennas that generate electromagnetic fields. Placed between the aerials, human hands act as capacitors and cause the interrupted fields to express themselves with variable pitch and volume. In this way, the hands can be moved around to create melodies.

Never heard one? Actually, you probably have.



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This story first appeared in the May 16, 2022 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.