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The Virtual Theremin: Designing an Interactive Digital Music Instrument for Film Scene Scoring

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De Gruyter


This paper presents a first prototype of a virtual Theremin instrument for accompanying film scenes with sound. The virtual Theremin is implemented as a hybrid application for the web. Sound control is achieved by capturing user gestures with a webcam and mapping the gestures to the corresponding virtual Theremin parameters pitch and volume. Different sound types can be selected. The application’s underlying research is part of the multi-modal digital heritage project KOLLISIONEN which targets to open up the private archive of the Russian film maker Sergej Eisenstein to a broader public in digital form. Eisenstein, a film theorist and pioneer of film montage, was particularly intrigued by the Theremin as an instrument for film sound design. The virtual Theremin presented here is therefore linked to a film scene from the 1929 Soviet drama “The General Line” by Sergej Eisenstein which was never set to music originally. In its first implementation state, the application connects music interaction design with digital heritage in a modular, flexible and playful way and uses contemporary web technologies to enable easy operation and the greatest possible accessibility.


Usabaev, Bela; Eschenbacher, Anna; Brennecke, Angela (2022): The Virtual Theremin: Designing an Interactive Digital Music Instrument for Film Scene Scoring. i-com: Vol. 21, No. 1. DOI: 10.1515/icom-2022-0007. Berlin: De Gruyter. PISSN: 2196-6826. pp. 109-121