Electronic odyssey
 

EoIpso: Do people often ask you about the theremin?

Pamelia: Oh yes, mostly people ask me: "How does this work?". Other people would interpret and describe, and there's a few other people who play a theremin, who want to have a look at that certain model, because they hadn't seen that one before. Some people think it is a really old one, because of its looks, and there's a bunch of spots all over the wood from when I dropped it. So some people think it is a real antique, but it's modern.

Originally, I was trying to see if I could find an old one, but people were charging fivethousand or even tenthousand dollars, because it's a collector's item. But those RCA theremins were made in a factory, they were not made by people who'd know how it should be calibrated, so in general the RCA theremins are as playable as the new ones now. But most likely the parts inside are broken, sometimes irreplaceable. Repairs have to be done constantly if you have an old instrument, and you don't know where to find the parts for it. It'll only be a piece of furniture, an antique relic or something that you keep just as a museum piece.

EoIpso: Clara Rockmore's theremin broke down once...

Pamelia: And it was fortunate that she met Bob Moog, as he was the person who fixed hers. Otherwise, maybe nobody would ever know about it, it could be an instrument that would be just an obscure novelty. All the years that Bob spent building theremins and making ones that are playable, maybe all that might not have evolved. It's like when you think of a species that's endangered. The theremin is not as endangered today as it used to be, but ten or fifteen years ago it was one of those things that would be at the risk of being completely obscure.

EoIpso: The Ethervox MIDI you use was built until recently, I've seen a new one only two years ago.

Pamelia: Mine is older than that, it was definitely built before I even knew I was going to play theremin. They are still trying to push it, because not many people know about the MIDI aspect of it. It's hard to sell a MIDI-theremin, it's hard to sell a theremin at first, but then the MIDI-version is so expensive.

EoIpso: Your theremins have the volume and pitch antennas mixed up. How come?

Pamelia: I'm a lefty (left-handed person), so I had the instruments custom-built for me. They are not normally available like that.

EoIpso: Susie O'Neill told me a hundred thousand Etherwave theremins had been sold, and I find it hard to believe that.

Pamelia: Well, that's over the course of many, many years. A lot of interest I believe was generated when that documentary "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey" came out in the States. It was at the Sundance film festival and on the public TV stations' educational shows. When the film came out, it was playing at some film festivals and in small theatres in the bigger cities. People became very aware of it, and all of a sudden people who saw the film were buying theremins. And the company (Big Briar/Moog) went: wow! You know, it's such a little factory. Since I've been working for them, they have expanded the building that they're in into the building next door, but it's still small, and everybody who works there knows each other. But now they're outgrowing the space they're in, they need a new one. They make a lot of new products now.

EoIpso: Like the Voyager...

Pamelia: Yes, the Voyager, but also the pedals are doing really well. It's grown a lot, and I'm sure a lot of this growth comes from the pedals, because that's something a lot more people use than theremins. But after the movie, I know a lot of people were buying theremins.

EoIpso: Also, there has been the Moog-movie by Hans Fjellestad.

Pamelia: I'm on that one, but I didn't even get a copy from those people, they forgot to send me one.

> Touch and go



On stage again. Witness left-handed version of Ethervox.
 

PAMELIA KURSTIN
< Attack of the green pedals
< A sonic Madagascar
< Earnings and yearnings
= Electronic odyssey
> Touch and go