Jaw-Dropping Theremin Performance Of ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’

Sunday Synth Jam: Thereminist Carolina Eyck shared this performance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s The Flight Of The Bumblebee, arranged for theremin and piano. Eyck is joined in the performance by pianist Christopher Tarnow.

The performance will be jaw-dropping to many people familiar with the theremin and traditional theremin repertoire, which tends to be glissando (gliding smoothly from pitch to pitch) and legato (moving from note to note without breaks). 

The Flight Of The Bumblebee demands exactly the opposite: a whirlwind of fast, staccato notes. And Eyck delivers – using an Earthquaker Devices Hummingbird tremolo effects pedal, which can do traditional tremolo effects or, as heard here, rhythmic chopping of the sound’s volume.

It’s a clever solution technically. While it’s easy to imagine adding a volume pad that you could tap percussively to achieve this type of effect under direct control, this type of approach stays true to the idea of the theremin being a touchless instrument. But it’s also an interesting performance musically, staking claim to new territory for theremin performance.

24 thoughts on “Jaw-Dropping Theremin Performance Of ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’

  1. As a traditional instrumentalist, I’m calling BS on using an LFO for every attack. She’s just controlling intonation and timbre with her hands.

    Musically interesting, however, it is NOT the tour-de-force that other instrumentalists face when performing it.

    Thumb up 7
    1. Well I’m calling BS on your calling BS because it’s simply not physically possible to play staccato notes on a Theremin!

      Besmirching my beloved’s name. You, sir, are a cad!

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 4
      1. triple BS, a tremolo pedal, like the green one on the floor in front of her would do the trick nicely….;)

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
      2. Sure its possible, with a Harrison Instruments Model 302 Theremin.

        Just adjust the volume antenna to start at about 2 inches above the antenna plate and you got all the staccato your muscles can muster.

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
      1. Why do you think its a gimmick? Just because she is using a pedal to make things that are impossible to do with just a theremin?

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
    2. That was clever, and it hit the melody closely enough to satisfy most lay-person listeners. People who know the melody (or have learned it in some fashion) will hear that it was pretty messy– but obviously not because Eyck lacks skills. It’s just a fkr of a piece.

      I’m not trash-talking. I think it was a worthwhile effort and was entertaining. It’s better that she tried and achieved what she did, than not trying at all. I doubt any living theremin player could have done better. I wonder if Clara Rockmore was alive and well and had access to that LFO, how she might have faired.

      BTW, I didn’t see a link above. It’s here:

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
      1. Yoyodyne – I AM a cad, however, I did not seek to besmirch her talent. This particular piece is NOT a showcase for her talent; she’s better than this.

        And no, I don’t play Theremin. They mostly make me want to tear out my eyes and shove them in my ears, despite their musical/synthesis pedigree.

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
      1. And wherever shall I go? Whatever shall I do?

        It seems this comment was received with far more saltiness than I intended. I was simply pointing out that it’s a trick, and not equal to the performance on a wind instrument…even the pianist is getting a good workout. She’s great, but it AIN’T the same thing.

        Perhaps “traditional instrumentalist” doesn’t differentiate the “classical” forms of instruments from the electronic? Hmmmm…I could just say “trombonist,” in my case.

        Your call. But if I leave, I’m coming to your house so you can help me be a better person.

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
    3. So friggin what?! I mean really have you done this before? Has anyone done this before? Have you even played a theremin before? STFU the fact is she created a cool piece of music. To have to sense to use a LFO to control and simulated staccato is just genius. Don’t judge it against anything other than how cool it is. Your negative vibes just show how insecure you are with your creative endeavors, so much so that you felt it necessary to try and bring down, someone doing way cooler things than you, in a public forum. Don’t be so small, don’t be so petty, life is to short. Go do something cool post it here and then let us all rip you to shreds for being an ass.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  2. Fun Fact:

    The theremin is the only instrument that is not touched by anyone or anything when it is played.

    I said that for free.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *