bbc.co.uk
Home
Explore the BBC
Radio 4
PROGRAMME FINDER:
Programmes
Podcast
Schedule
Presenters
PROGRAMME GENRES:
News
Drama
Comedy
Science
Religion|Ethics
History
Factual
Messageboards
Radio 4 Tickets
Radio 4 Help

About the BBC

Contact Us

Help


Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
BBC Radio 4 - 92 to 94 FM and 198 Long WaveListen to Digital Radio, Digital TV and OnlineListen on Digital Radio, Digital TV and Online

Factual
MISSED A PROGRAMME?
Go to the Listen Again page
Thursday 21 October 2004, 11:30 - 12:00

Good Vibrations: The Story of the Theremin

an image of a man playing a theremin.
Playing a theremin

Good Vibrations charts the history and remarkable versatility of the theremin, instrument of preference for horror movie soundtrack composers, signature sound of the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, and stalwart of live shows by the programme's presenter Bill Bailey.

This uniquely 'hands-off' instrument is named after its inventor Leon Theremin (1896- 1993) and 2004 marks the 80th anniversary of the first public performance of a piece composed for this pioneering electronic instrument, which has since been adopted by artists as diverse as Blur, Todd Rundgren and Goldfrapp.

an image of Leon Theremin.Leon Theremin was born in St Petersburg. A student of physics and astronomy at St Petersburg University, he went on to be a member of the Red Army, a label which he did not shake off for the rest of his life. His status as an artist did not exempt him from espionage duty, and his status as a scientist drew him further into an uncontrollable underworld.

His 'musical apparatus with cathode tubes' was patented in 1921, demonstrated later that year at the 8th annual All-Russia Electrical Engineering Conference and, in 1924, presented by its inventor to Lenin - as a burglar alarm. Theremin began to perform his 'ether-wave music' publicly, adding Andrey Pashchenko's innovative Symphonic Mystery to his repertoire in 1924.

Leon's story is a rollercoaster ride of major achievements and personal and political upheaval, involving espionage, imprisonment in a Siberian labour camp, a creative sojourn in New York, and almost three decades during which he 'vanished' in Russia.

Joining comedian and theremin enthusiast Bill Bailey are sonic inventor Robert Moog, Theremin's biographer Albert Glinsky, poet John Hegley, film critic Mark Kermode, and musicians including Alison Goldfrapp and Paul Tanner, theremin sessioneer on the legendary Beach Boys single.

The programme explores the many faces of Leon Theremin, and will clarify a few stories and myths which surround the inventor. A poetry performance by the irreverent John Hegley and theremin demonstration by Bill Bailey will provide the listener with a musical box of delights.



Useful Links

Theremin World
An interview with Leon Theremin

The BBC is not responsible for external web sites

Listen Live
Audio Help
DON'T MISS
You and Yours
Email your financial experiences.
MESSAGE BOARDS
Join the discussion:
The Learning Curve
Pick of the Week
Questions, Questions
Woman's Hour
Word of Mouth

News & Current Affairs | Arts & Drama | Comedy & Quizzes | Science | Religion & Ethics | History | Factual

Back to top

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy