Saturday, May 28, 2005

Greatest moments in rock and roll, part 10

Human-manipulated lead synthesizers


A theremin is an instrument that you can play without touching it. You control the pitch by moving your hand towards and away from an antenna. That's why you can do pitch bends. you can hear the theremin in action on The Beach Boys "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" and "Good Vibrations."

Ondes martenot

It's sort of like a theremin, except with a keyboard. Apparently, it is easier to play than a theremin. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood used it on several tracks on Kid A, most notably on "The National Anthem" and "Optimistic."


This homemade synthesizer is used on several Del Shannon songs, including "Runaway", one of the greatest songs ever written. Here's all you need to know about the song. And you can read about the musitron.

The musitron has the same function as other early synthesizers like the theremin (used mostly as a lead instrument), but has a sharper sound.

Alas, we do not have any of these cool instruments. We have tried to get Steven's keyboard to do cool things, like the octave bends on "You're Only Human (Do You Know What You're Doing)."

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