Theremin Enthusiast's Club International

Cello or Fingerboard Theremin

[ The Shrine to Music Museum ] in Vermillion South Dakota has kindly supplied the photos below to be published at our website. They may not be reproduced without specific written permission from the Shrine to Music Museum. This instrument is catalog #1133 on public display at the Museum. It was manufactured by Teletouch Corp., which was Leon Theremin's company in New York City. Instead of a string, it has a flexible black plastic film finger board which when touched produces a tone. As long as the finger remains depressed, a tone is sustained. The volume is controlled by the lever, and the tone color is controlled by knobs. It has an external amplifier. No bow is necessary. Check out the
[ Charles D. Stein Collection of Early Electronic Instruments ] for additional information.

Historical Notes

The Life and Legacy of Leon Theremin Keyboard Feb. 1994. "...and an electronic cello by 1930, which Stokowski used to buttress the bass part in an arrangement of Debussy'sPrelude #10 "La Cathedrale engloutie," for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Electrio in First Concert Features Novel Instruments. N.Y.Times 21 June, 1931 "At the fingerboard instrument, which is played with a cello techinique, will be Leo Bolotine, former faculty member of the Curtis Institute of Music...
.....The cello like instrument can easily be played by any musician accustomed to stringed instruments. It has the appearance of a cello without the familiar resonance chamber or body. With the left hand the musician fingers a board like a cello except that it has no strings. With the other hand he changes the volume by depressing a small lever."
Low Tones for Stokowski N.Y.Times 18 Oct. 1932 "PHILEDELPHIA, Pa., Oct. 17. Reverberations fairly rocked the Acadamy of Music this afternoon as Leopold Stokowski augmented the resources of the Philedelphia Orchestra with the electric Theremin in the transcription of Debussey's piano prelude of " The Engulfed Cathederal." Karl Zeise of the cello section played the modern instrument, which provided a ground bass for the entire orchestra below the compass of its closest competitors."
Perfect Pitch Slonimsky Autobiography circa 1966 "Stowkowski asked him to consrtuct an instrument that would lend support to to the low bass notes in the orchestra, and Theremin manufactured one that produced frequencies at the threshold of audibility. The infrasonic vibrations were so powerful in fact, that they hit the stomach physically, causing near nausea in the double-bass section of the orchestra. Stowowski abandoned the project."

Scans courtesy of TECI member 491 - [ Bob Pearson ]

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