Thomas Grillo (USA)

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What prompted you to play theremin?

Back in July of 2006, I was helping a totally blind friend look for keyboards at an online music shop on the web. While there, I noticed they were selling Moog Etherwave Standard theremins. I had never seen one in person before. But it looked like what I had seen in a television documentary about theremins 10 years before. I baught the theremin just as a curiosity. I fully expected it to end up in the closet in a month or so. 5 years later, I find my self not going a single day without playing it. I realized that the theremin was a wonderful instrument. When I was a kid, I played the violin, but I injured a finger, and was never able to play the violin anymore. The theremin has filled that void.

What were your first feelings when you heard the sounds of theremin and where did it happen?

When I first heard the theremin, it reminded me of a person singing, or a stringed instrument. It sounded so beautiful.

What is your musical philosophy and what place it occupies a theremin?

Music is an important part of my life. It allows me to express my feelings. The theremin allows me to do that far better than I ever could with other instruments, and is now the primary instrument for me. In fact, I have a corner in my studio devoted just to the theremin where I practice. It’s rather like someone having a piano in a corner all the time. The theremin is such a large part of my life, I teach the theremin, as well as entertain with it.

Prospects for theremin and its place in modern music space – how you see them? For what qualities you value this tool?

The theremin is not an instrument for every musician, nor every member of the audience. However, it is becoming more popular all the time. It is finding it’s way into modern music of all genres, as well as motion picture, and television programs. I think the theremin will eventually become as well known as the violin, and piano. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s only been around for about 1 century. The violin, and piano have been around for hundreds of years. So it will take time, but it will find it’s way into everyday life as the piano has. As a tool, this instrument is the one instrument that can truely reflect ones emotions, and skills. As with any instrument, it can bring awesome wonders to the audience when played by a skilled musician, or utter horror to the audience when played by someone who lacks the proper skills, or has tone deafness.

Which manufacturer of theremin do you prefer?

I don’t have a preference when it comes to theremin manufacturers. I have many theremins, and I play each theremin depending on the genre of music I’m performing. The Burns B3, and Moog Etherwave Pro are good classical theremins. The Moog Etherwave Standard, Wavefront Theremins are good for rock, and jazz, but can also be used for classical music depending on how they are adjusted.

What you can recommend for beginners thereminists, or those who are just going to start their way of thereminist?

For people just starting on the theremin, I recommend the Burns or Moog theremins, along with my DVD, Peter Pringle’s DVD, Carolina Eyck’s book, as well as the free downloadable books by Victor Estrada, as well as Clara Rockmore’s booklet, both of which are downloadable PDF files. The web site, thereminworld is a great place for new thereminists to start their electronic journey with the theremin.