New Open Source Instrument, Theremotion, Updates Theremin For 21st Century

Developer Pierre Lulé has introduced a new, open source instrument, inspired by the theremin, Theremotion.

Like a theremin, the position of your hand in the air controls the pitch and volume of the sound. However, you can also control more dimensions of the sound with specific motions.

Theremotion is based on the Leap Motion Controller, which means that it tracks hand movements more consistently than traditional theremin technology, and does skeletal modeling, which supports additional types of gestural control.

With specific hand positions, you can control a low pass filter, a supersaw sound, a guitar sound and more. You can also make the instrument “stick” to a scale, making it easier to control than traditional theremin designs.


  • Theremotion is a synthesizer controlled by your hands.
  • Move up and down your right hand to control the volume.
  • Move up and down your left hand to control the pitch.
  • Move your right hand on the horizontal plane to control the filter.
  • Advance left hand on the horizontal plane to play a chord.
  • Pinch with your left hand to stick on a scale.
  • Pinch with your right hand, and rotate it to play guitar.


Theremotion is an open source project, available via GitHub. The Leap Motion Controller is available for about $110 USD.

13 thoughts on “New Open Source Instrument, Theremotion, Updates Theremin For 21st Century

  1. Traditional theremin technology is consistent. It’s theremin players who are generally inconsistent.
    Thus vibrato to conceal poor intonation and accompaniment or a backing track to maintain pitch.

    Only the best hit a note steady and then apply vibrato.
    Only a virtuoso needs neither accompaniment or a backing track.

    The control of only pitch and volume should suffice.

    1. Show me a theremin player that can play in tune at the level of an average violinist.

      Even world class theremin players (Grégoire Blanc, Carolina Eyck, Dorit Chrysler) are challenged to play accurately on pitch. It’s a limitation of the instrument.

      The instrument needs to evolve to be more than a novelty.

      1. You sir are correct.

        I evolved, so can everyone else. Play while seated, try something more reasonable than aerial fingering. Angles, elbow, wrist, fingers, sufficient to hurl baseballs, darts and wadded up paper to their targets accurately.

        You left out Gladys Hulot – Hyrtis, she is definitely world class and one of the best.

        Two of that group hit the note and hold it steady before vibrato. The other two can I suppose, both also excellent players.

        I play in tune and in microtones, but you wouldn’t like what I do with that precision. None of the other theremin “greats” like it.

        I prefer this century to the last. My inspiration is largely post 1950s so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who likes traditional theremin music.

  2. Your Twitter account posts everything twice, first the article link tweet and then an exact duplicate, every time. Any chance someone could take a look at it? Cheers!

    1. I suppose it was bound to happen that the Leap Motion would stop working with some new OS. It’s a shame, though, as it is a cool and powerful controller concept.

      I bought one when they first came out, but had trouble getting it to work reliably. Got rid of it.

      Seems like the bottleneck was processor speed, so it really should get an update to work with newer machines/OS’s.

  3. Amazing job!
    Last weekend I was programming a theremin on the BBC microbit and I thought:
    ‘Wow! it is as difficult to play in tune as with a real theremin!’ So I guess I succeeded 😀

    I used to play the theremin regularly, and I honestly think this video shows great potential.
    I attached the link to one of my theremin videos, using another interesting theremin: open.theremin v3, which is better than an expensive Moog Etherwave in many aspects (in the video you can see I have an Etherwave, too)
    Sometimes small projects solve ‘big brand’ instruments issues, and I really liked this one!

  4. Love it! I feel inspired to set up my LeapMotion again. I can’t imagine how much work went into this. Are there any plans for the future for an ipad app version? Or would that require the LeapMotion people to create an app of their set up program? Either way nice work!

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