Lydia Kavina

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

My relations with the theremin developed gradually from the middle of 1970s. One day Lev Sergeevich brought to our home a small tool on transistors, which worked on batteries, and introduced the theremin to me. In a short while it was replaced by a traditional big instrument in the U-form with a grandiose rhombus-speaker.

By that time I was 8 or 9 years old. Electro-musical instruments just started to be used, and new world of electronic sounds, which was opened through the theremin, was surprising. I began using the theremin in my early compositions for creation of fantastic images: the Snow Queen and the Bluebird of Happiness.

However, first of all my attitude to the theremin was oriented by the way Lev Sergeevich had presented it to me — songful, lyrical and classical. I played «The Swan», «Ave Maria» and «Moon sonata» in our lessons.

My relation to the theremin was influated by the personality of the inventor himself. Everyone, who had met Theremin, even briefly, would keep memories of him for years. In the 1980s and later he had an extremely young body and soul, he was witty in each his phrase and romantic like a young man. But first, people were fascinated by Lev’s delicacy and goodwill. Coming to us on Fridays, after the working week at the university, Lev Sergeevich never used the lift and rose on the fifth floor on foot. He always brought a pie or sweets. Despite that our lessons were regular, there were no obligations, unlike most of usual music lessons have. Approval, own example and sensation of pleasure of our sessions, that was a Theremin’s teaching method. In those days the theremin was very little known in Russia, it was seldom used. However Lev Sergeevich believed that his instrument will find its firm place among musical instruments and thousands of people would play it. This idea captivated my parents and myself.

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

I haven’t thought of my philosophy in music. After all, the philosophy is words, but music expresses something that cannot be expressed in words. The theremin sings without words. I think the aim of an art should touch the listeners’ feelings.

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

 I see the theremin in the intermediate position between experimental, electronic and traditional acoustic music. It belongs to all these various arts and at the same time it remains isolated. It enters perfectly in most different musical styles, though our ear allocates it from them, as an unusual paint. This uniqueness of the theremin gives the future prospect to it. Actually its future has already begun.

What in the theremin attracts me especially is its ability to show new features every day. I like using its seven octaves range, playing with its endless expressional possibilities. I love its sensitivity and flexibility, the ability of the theremin to create both: new interpretation of classics and open space for a human experiment. I call it human, where the live spontaneous action is important, when the expression of the real time performance is obvious. I believe that the future of the theremin is formed by its sinaestesia, which is a synthesis of different spheres: physic and lyric, movements and static, a line and a sound, history and science fiction.

Which manufacturer of theremin do you prefer?

I prefer Tvox by George Pavlov, that I have played for last 10 years. Occasionally I play Etherwave pro by Moog and consider it as a good instrument. I also like late instruments by Lev Korolev, where two volume control systems are presented: a foot pedal and the antennae.

I have tried out dozens of different instruments. For many years I played the original theremin by Lev Sergeevich, by S. Eduardov, V. Frolov, A. Henk and tershumphon by L. Korolev.

And yet, I can not name an instrument which would satisfy me by all criteria: the pitch range, sensitivity of the volume antennae, sound colour abilities, linearity of intervals, stability in work and the elegance of design.

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