Dave's Theremin Home Page presents...

The Paul Tanner Electro-Theremin Page



Arrangements by Warren Baker



Heavenly Bodies, whether it be the type that whirl about us in space, or those that have the glitter of Monroe, Mansfield or Bardot, have always had a magnetic attraction for man. The cosmos, infinite galaxies, lunar bodies suspended in space, glimmering stars light years away from Earth . . . all of these are both stimulating and staggering to the imagination.

Perhaps, on some blue-dark night, when you have been winging across the continent in an airplane high above the clouds . . . staring pensively out the window at the stars, cold and clear, you've experienced the kind of mood we've tried to establish in this album.

Presenting the sky and space as a program inspiration for mood music brought us to the use of Paul Tanner's electro-theremin. Its sound, created by electronics, provides a sense of the unknown . . . of falling off into the whistling world of infinite space.

Its eerie sound is not unlike Dr. Samuel Hoffman's famous theremin, but it is easily distinguishable to those who have heard both. Tanner's instrument is mechanically controlled, while Hoffman's is played by moving the hands in front of it without touching the instrument. The electro-theremin was developed especially for Paul Tanner, a Hollywood trombonist formerly with Glenn Miller's Orchestra. It operates on a slide, and those who know about electronics will guess immediately that the sound is being created by a variable oscillator.

The audio range of the electro-theremin covers the complete sound spectrum, from 0 to over 20,000 cycles per second. Its high and lows can only be measured on an oscilloscope. Its sounds are pure sine waves without any harmonics, making it an ideal instrument with which to test your audio equipment.

Its advantage over other types of theremins is that it enables the musician to play staccato notes. Vibrations can be played was quickly as two fingers can be moved in contrast to the slower sweep of the whole hand.

Essentially, this instrument was Paul Tanner's brainchild. He brought his innovations to two young actor friends, Bob Whitsell and Joe Rozar, who are also competent electronic technicians. Together, Paul's instrument was developed, and while theremin recordings have been done before, we felt this fresh, new sound from a brand new type of instrument, coupled with Andre Montero's orchestra and arrangements by Warren Baker, could convey, mood-wise, the awe-inspiring feeling of asteroids and comets.

The music was carefully selected to showcase the electro-theremin in stereo and to capture the living presence of an imaginary trip into space.


From the LP, "Music for Heavenly Bodies" OSL-4, Omega Disk, ©1958