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Peter Davidson

Theremini and the Midi enigma

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Hi Guys, A while back i was thrilled to see the video and announcement of the new Theremin, from Moog. and also by the marketing of USB Midi in and out.. after some time i got it. and was excited to plug it into the computer and control other stuff too. as it is..i´m not programmer or bender or such but i do know what midi is, having used it live also since 1986. but after a lot os squabbling even on the Moog site. here it goes for those who might be interested to know.. The Theremini has USB, only. for Midi CC, and nothing else, plus future update software, so you can send and receive CC messages BUT NO MIDI-NOTE. OK.. for the rest it´s a quite funny machine that requires a steady hand and good ears and knowledge in scales and basically - music.

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Sadly, the hand control of notes is problematic because a MIDI note is three events: Note Number, Note On, and Note Off. When you consider a hand moving in space, there is no reference point for these events when continuous pitch is involved.

 

I have one of these Dimension Beam devices that does do this, but it is unplayable. The sweep of a hand flys over the notes so fast, it sounds like mad zippering harp-note runs. I have been able to use it with percussion by assigning silent notes between sounds so there is a enough of a gap between notes to trigger a snare or cymbal strike with a hand movement.

 

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The only thing I know of that comes close to proper MIDI control is not a full theremin. The MWT-01 Theremin just a pitch controller: http://www.wave-theremin.com/index.php

 

They have made the best of the MIDI Note problem with some different modes:

 

How do you trigger Midi-notes with the MWT-01 Theremin ?

You have a number of options and this is what makes this Midi Theremin quiet unique:

Manual-trigger (push-button), Auto-trigger (using a build-in and adjustable oscillator) or External-trigger (drum trigger input). External trigger signals will derive the Note-velocity from the trigger signal itself, just like a drum trigger input. The Manual- and Auto-trigger events use the Theremin-volume as the Note-velocity.

In Piano mode, if the "Note-Glissanto" is enabled, notes will be automatically triggered when the note-pitch increases or decreases (like a harp). Last but not least, in Pitch bend mode, if the "Bend-note-ON" option is selected, a fixed note is always turned on whenever you enter the active region of the pitch antenna and the note is turned off again when exiting the region.

 

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Yes Jack, im aware of the difficulties that may and will occur when triggering a device like this, however. that is one thing. what i did not like was the marketing of something simply not all there. with a full midi in and out, one could do many things.. in the Theremini, there is a full scale setting option. with that one could very easily go from one note to the other, and then have a glissando slightly present.. the option more promising is CV out, and that is there. which is good, for those who work with old synths.

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Theremini.players !

I just discovered that the new updatefirmware has serious bugs ! i recommend you to wait, until Moog has solved the errors, more on what happens when you install it can be read on the moogforum page. i luckily did not install it. so my theremini still works in the factory V1.0.4 mode.

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