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ARSCLIST  December 2006

ARSCLIST December 2006

Subject:

Re: Clara Rockmore Theremin recordings

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 30 Dec 2006 20:27:30 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (197 lines)

This is one of many interesting Capitol "pop" albums that will probably never see the light of day. 
I have a great Jack Marshall record which has a cover of lots of pretty girls around pretty U-47 
mics that's nicely arranged and played, an early "stereo spectacular."  They were very active early 
on with interesting pop music stuff, and it stands the test of time. Billy May also did a good job 
in the late 60's of recreating many of the great Swing Era songs, using top Hollywood studio 
musicians (some of whom were the original players in the swing era) for Time-Life Records. The 
series mostly used then-new Billy May recordings but some of it was recycled from early 1960's Glenn 
Gray records which were basically the same thing but on a lesser scale. All of that stuff is out of 
print right now and it's a pity because the playing is great and the sound is usually spectacular.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rod Stephens" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, December 30, 2006 7:09 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Clara Rockmore Theremin recordings


> You guys really make us work sometimes, and I just had to dig into my old 45s to come up with 
> three disks from a vintage ('50s) Capitol album that had a seminude girl on the cover (which I 
> can't find right now).  It was entitled "Music for Peace of Mind" (aka theremin music).
> http://www.317x.com/albums/h/samuelhoffman/card.html
> The artists are Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman and Billy May and his orchestra.   These are the six 
> selections:
>
> This Room is My Castle of Quiet
> The Darkness Gives Me You Again
> Remembering Your Lips
> My Troubles Float Away Like Fallen Leaves
> Your Soft Hand on My Brow
> I Dream of a Past Love
>
> It was my first exposure to the theremin aside from its use in Miklos Rósza's Oscar winning score 
> of Hitchcock's "Spellbound".
>
> Ah, youth!
>
> I'm sure someone else will come up with more information on Dr. Hoffman and the album.
>
> Rod Stephens
>
> Tom Fine wrote:
>
>> Hi Bret:
>>
>> Thanks for all the great information. I just ordered a copy of the Bridge CD. I definitely noted 
>> the dull sound on the Delos CD and just figured, well, that was what the budget allowed as far as 
>> recording quality. Great to know it was actually better fidelity.
>>
>> Also good to hear the new Moog instruments are so good. I've been considering one for years but 
>> know full well that to be a real musician on one of these things, you need to practice as hard or 
>> harder than any other instrument and the time is unlikely available to me.
>>
>> Happy New Year and thanks again for the good tip.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bret" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Friday, December 29, 2006 7:56 PM
>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Clara Rockmore Theremin recordings
>>
>>
>>> There is a new cd release of Clara Rockmore and Nadia Reisenberg on
>>> Bridge Records:
>>> http://www.bridgerecords.com/pages/catalog/9208.htm
>>>
>>> This material that was recorded on the same days in July 1975 as the
>>> Delos release, Art of Theremin.
>>>
>>> I much prefer the sound of the Bridge 'Lost' recording, it is alive.  I
>>> always thought the Delos cd recording had a dull, flat quality,
>>> compressed sounding.  The high frequencies sound heavily filtered.  The
>>> low end has no power.  I was told by a theremin expert that the LP
>>> release of 'Art' sounds much more natural, but I don't have an lp copy
>>> to compare.
>>>
>>> Since the original multitrack recordings were only recently found in
>>> Moog's basement, I doubt that the Delos cd (released in 1987) was made
>>> from the original multitrack tapes.
>>>
>>> There are also occasional ticks and pops on the Delos cd of 'Art',
>>> which makes me wonder if they used an LP as the source for the cd
>>> release.  I don't know.
>>>
>>> While there are the occasional noise reduction artifacts noticeable on
>>> the Bridge 'Lost' recording, the performances of Clara and Nadia, and
>>> the lively sound of the Theremin, and Piano are truly magnificent, and
>>> this restoration presents this in a convincing and engaging manner.  I
>>> love it.
>>>
>>> I highly recommend the 'Lost' cd if you liked 'Art' in the slightest
>>> amount.
>>>
>>> Regarding modern theremin sounds compared to Clara's theremin sound, no
>>> one will ever make a theremin sound like Clara Rockmore, no matter what
>>> theremin they play, including hers.  Clara said that herself.
>>>
>>> The sound of a given theremin depends not only the harmonic balance of
>>> the instrument and amplifier and loudspeaker, but who is playing it,
>>> even more so.  I collect theremins, and theremin recordings, and am
>>> learning to play.
>>> I have 2 vacuum tube theremins (one is an RCA AR1264), and 2 solid
>>> state theremins.  They all sound different, but with a bit of
>>> adjustment (eq, waveshape, compression, distortion, etc) can sound very
>>> similar.
>>>
>>> A modern Moog Etherwave Pro is a tremendous instrument, and if Bob Moog
>>> was alive today he would tell you it is far better instrument than any
>>> of this tube theremins that he built and sold since the 1950's.  In
>>> fact he told me that years ago when I asked him about one of his
>>> vintage vacuum tube moog theremins I was considering purchasing.  The
>>> EPro can make many different sounds with adjustable waveshape and
>>> filtering controls.
>>>
>>> The discontinued Moog Ethervox is also a marvelous instrument.  More
>>> linear in play than the RCA, and the tone can be made to sound much
>>> like the RCA and other sounds.
>>>
>>> The original RCA had only 1 sound. But that one sound will change as
>>> vacuum tubes are swapped in, or certain resistor values are changed in
>>> the circuit.
>>>
>>> Clara's custom Termen theremin had the ability to adjust the timbre,
>>> but she always had it set only 1 way.  'That' magical sound.  Her
>>> theremin had been silent for years when Bob Moog and Mike Jason helped
>>> by bringing it back to life, and getting 'that' sound for Clara.
>>>
>>> Bob Moog from the liner notes of 'lost'
>>> "The high point of my experience with Clara came when she called me
>>> because her instrument had become completely unreliable. Building
>>> theremins had been a hobby of mine for thirty or forty years, then it
>>> became a business, so naturally I was very curious to see what was
>>> inside hers that could produce such a beautiful sound. Electronics age
>>> faster than people do, and Clara's theremin, which must have been fifty
>>>
>>> years old by then, was filled with broken connections, parts that were
>>> beginning to fail, others that had shorted out. I replaced various
>>> solders and connectors, and then, with Mike Jason, Clara's own
>>> technician, tried to overhaul the instrument to make it work as much
>>> like the original as possible. We started Friday night, worked all day
>>> Saturday, and then put everything back together Sunday morning. Clara
>>> tried it out, said "No, it doesn't sound just right." The trouble was
>>> we didn't know exactly what 'just right' meant, but we fiddled with the
>>>
>>> adjustments for half an hour or so. Clara tried it once again and said,
>>>
>>> "No. Closer, but not close enough." So once again Mike and I worked and
>>>
>>> when she tried it again she didn't stop. She started playing SUMMERTIME
>>>
>>> and went right through to the end, and when she turned around she had
>>> tears in her eyes. And through her tears she said, 'I thought I would
>>> never play this instrument again.' "
>>>
>>> Bob Moog did more than anyone else to make theremin a popular
>>> instrument today, a precise instrument and not just a toy sound maker.
>>> He commissioned the recordings that we have now on Delos and Bridge,
>>> and he never made a penny on them.  Without them, we would only have
>>> the Fuleihan recording of Clara.  We also have the DVD of Clara and
>>> Nadia, 'The Greatest Theremin Virtuoso' thanks to Moog, so we actually
>>> get to see how she performs her magic.
>>>
>>> I think the sounds that most people associate with the theremin are
>>> either the scifi and scary Hollywood sound of Dr. Hoffman, due to his
>>> nervous vibrato and chicken pecking playing style, with much glissando,
>>> and the singing lady sound associated with Clara Rockmore and her
>>> aerial fingering, and articulated notes that sing and breathe.
>>>
>>> She was a violin virtuoso since she was 4 years old, so her intonation,
>>> and ability to make an instrument sing and breathe were already there
>>> before she ever came near a theremin.  She had music in her soul.
>>> Clara and Nadia had played together since they were small children,
>>> Clara learned to read music at age 3.  Nadia is one of the finest
>>> pianist that has ever lived, and teacher to many of the finest living
>>> pianists.  Clara and Nadia played as ONE.
>>>
>>> Sorry I rambled.  Theremin recordings are actually what brought me to
>>> audio restoration many years ago.
>>>
>>> I happen to know that there is a precision thereminist on this list.
>>> He is the one who introduced me to ARSC.  I'll leave it to him to speak
>>> up if he wants.
>>>
>>> best,
>>> Bret Moreland
>>>
>>>
>>> __________________________________________________
>>> Do You Yahoo!?
>>> Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
>>> http://mail.yahoo.com
>>>
>>
> 

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