Today Google honored Clara Rockmore and her 105th birthday with an online theremin. Clara Rockmore is famous for her ability to make music from thin air. Trained from a young age as a violinist, Rockmore ultimately gave up the violin for theremin, a gesture-controlled instrument named after its inventor, Léon Theremin.
Not only did Rockmore become the instrument’s most well-known performer, she also influenced its development introducing greater range of notes. She performed as theremin soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony.
Theremin is one of the earliest electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (the person who’s playing it). The instrument consists of two metal antennae that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands where one hand represents the frequency, and the other hand represents the volume of movement. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and translated into sound through the loudspeaker. In fact, the instrument was originally designed for the proximity sensors research project, sponsored by the Soviet government.