Ghost in the machine
They make the sound of aliens, magic and the cosmic unknown. But just how do you get music out of the theremin and the ondes Martenot?
By Pascal Wyse
In Pamelia Kurstin's Vienna apartment, I have my back up against the wall and am attempting not to breathe. My hands are stuck in mid-air like a neglected shop dummy, and I am told to imagine I'm in a tub of "very thick fluid". Before me is what could be a little robot with two antennae. I carefully reach out towards it and it makes a seasick whooping sound.
Kurstin lets out the first of many enormous giggles. She is giving me a lesson on the theremin: an early electronic instrument that became the universal sound of aliens, ghosts and other voices from the B-movie ether.
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