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‘Psychedelic’ is a genre which is increasingly growing on the music and musicians in India today. We are moving towards elecro-fusion and trance and EDM, and the Psychedelic is a precursor to all the ambiance and atmospherics in these sounds.

The Beatles, the Doors and the Byrds all used Moogs as part of their search for “psychedelic” sounds. The Moog, as we all know was the world’s first voltage controlled synthesizer. Created by Robert Moog in the 1960s, this first synthesizer was a revolution in music, paving the way for almost all the sounds we know and love today.

The Moog was in turn influenced by the Theremin, one of the world’s first electronic instruments. It was built in 1927, by a Russain cellist Lev Termen.

“The theremin is unique in that it is played without physical contact. The performer stands in front of the instrument moving her hands midair within the proximity of two metal antennae—one of which controls frequency, the other amplitude—in order to manipulate pitch and volume. The distance between player and pitch antenna is akin to an imaginary and ever-shifting fingerboard, especially sensitive to environmental factors such as vibration, humidity, and movement.”

The popularity of the Theremin sparked one of the most important revolutions in music- that of electronic sounds. And its first pioneer was this lady known as Clara Rockmore. “I was fascinated by the aesthetic part of it, the visual beauty, the idea of playing in the air,” said Clara, “I tried it, and apparently showed some kind of immediate ability to manipulate it.”Rockmore switched to the theremin as her primary instrument and soon became its “star performer”.

She introduced the theremin to the public and even played with it alongside symphonies and orchestras, the then serious music.

On 9th March, Google celebrated the birthday of this extraordinary musician by its doodle, in which it allowed users to get a feel of playing the theremin itself!

(Quotes from The Julliard Journal and The Telegraph UK)

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