Virtual Theremin


[Mojo] has taken a lot of the complex circuitry out of the mix by creating a virtual Theremin. A Theremin is an electronic instrument, usually with two antennas, that senses the proximity of the player’s hands to the instrument and responds accordingly.

This design, called the AirDeck, uses a Wii remote as an IR sensor and two gloves with IR LEDs in them. Data from the Wii remote is processed by a custom Java app that converts it into sound. [Mojo’s] interface also includes some alternative options such as a turn-table scratch interface.

In the end this is still just a synthesizer/midi controller and cannot stand up to the real thing. However if you’re not an accomplished player you’ll probably never notice the difference.

10 thoughts on “Virtual Theremin

  1. Watching the video, it would be even cooler if he used the webcam to be the thermin… two black gloves, each with two dots on them. The webcam measures the distance between the dots on each hand to determine frequency and volume. (c) me.

  2. That’s because it is the intro to the old star trek. Albeit it’s a badly played rendition of it, but since it’s a virtual theremin, who can blame him? Those things are hard to play.

  3. I don’t know how he even managed to pull that poor rendition off. Looking at the onscreen representations of his finger positions, it doesn’t even look like it matches the tones.

    Maybe it only makes sense if you have actually played a theremin before, though.

  4. not to rag on this, but why even bother with the wiimote?

    he’s only using 2 axes of information, and his web cam could isolate the leds as well as the controller can.

    Does the controller have a higher resolution camera?

  5. It probably sounds off because the orginal Star Trek theme was played on an Ondes Martenot (sp im lazy), which was a keyboard with a massive ribbon controller so you could bend anything. Apparently there aren’t that many out there and even fewer who can actually play them lol. Radiohead used it on their albums. Neat instrument.

    Back to the theremin. I used to have fun with a little win95 app (yes it still works) called Mousing that lets you use your mouse as a theremin. Up/down do volume left/right does pitch.
    could be pretty hackable since so many of us like to mess with mice and other peripherals.

  6. Complex circuitry? A real theremin consists of two RF oscillators and a mixer. You could make one that performs just like one of Dr. Theremin’s originals with a couple of FET’s, a handful of passive components, and a five dollar power audio amp chip. Or just copy one of the examples:

    Really, the whole point of a theremin is that it is an entirely analog device that creates a very fluid transition of tones as you wave your hands around the antennae. Doing a digital simulation of one misses the whole point.

  7. localroger, I agree, at some point writing code just is not it. I mean sure, i wrote tons of apps in software/ firmware, and i appreciate the time it takes. but a true analog solution is so much simpler and honestly more elegant. there is no black magic here.

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