Monday Explorations: Ruth Rendell, Star Wars Day and the Theremin….
This morning as I was looking over the front page of Wikipedia to see what was new, I noted that author Ruth Rendell has passed away. One would think that as a lover of mystery books I would have read plenty of Ruth Rendell’s works, but somehow I have avoided them and I can’t give you one good reason why!! From Wikipedia:
Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann; 17 February 1930 – 2 May 2015) was an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries.
Rendell’s best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, was the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for TV. But Rendell also generated a separate brand of crime fiction that explored deeply into the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. This theme was developed further in a third series of novels, written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine. Read More
I do have a copy of her book The Vault on my TBR shelf. My wife accidentally bought it one Christmas when I asked for a book with the same title from a different author. She read it and liked it. Maybe it’s time now to enjoy Rendell’s tremendous legacy!!
Next I saw that today May 4th is Star Wars Day
Star Wars Day is an unofficial secular holiday in May that celebrates the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. It is observed by fans of the films. Observance of the holiday spread quickly due to Internet, social media, and grassroots celebrations.
May 4 is considered a holiday by Star Wars fans to celebrate the franchise’s films series, books, and culture as well as strict religious rituals. The date was chosen for the easy pun on the catchphrase “May the Force be with you”—”May the fourth be with you”. Even though the holiday was not actually created or declared by Lucasfilm they still choose to embrace it annually.
Not being a big fan of the franchise, I don’t celebrate this holiday….never really noticed it until today, much like Pi Day which I only discovered when it became my grandson Oliver’s birthday…..
Finally in the Did You Know section I saw this item…….Did you know….
… that Thorwald Jørgensen enjoys playing Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” on the theremin?
My answer was a resounding no! But since I love discovering new and unique instruments I was intrigued by the questions! I only have a few more questions: Who is Thorwald Jørgensen and what the hell is a theremin? I started my quest with the later question….to the theremin page…..
The theremin is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). It is named after the Westernized name of its Russian inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.
The instrument’s controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the thereminist’s hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker.
The theremin was used in movie soundtracks such as Miklós Rózsa‘s for Spellbound and The Lost Weekend and Bernard Herrmann’s for The Day the Earth Stood Still and as the theme tune for the ITV drama Midsomer Murders. This has led to its association with a very eerie sound. Theremins are also used in concert music (especially avant-garde and 20th- and 21st-century new music) and in popular music genres such as rock. Psychedelic rock bands in particular, such as Hawkwind, have often used the theremin in their work.
I also discovered that….
…Robert Moog, began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building theremins, and sold theremin kits that were intended to be assembled by the customer. Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Moog.
You can read more about the Theremin here at Wikipedia
So now who is Thorwald Jørgensen??
Jørgensen took up playing percussion instruments aged 14, and began playing in orchestras. He took up classical music as a career full time after graduating from the Utrecht and Tilburg Conservatory. He became influenced by the theremin after hearing the work of Clara Rockmore, and began researching the instrument’s history and teaching himself how to play one. As well as watching old videos of Rockmore, he consulted a friend who played the cello for musical advice. He learned Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” and it has become one of his favourite pieces. He has subsequently played over 100 concerts using the theremin, including Saint Petersburg and a tour of the United States. In 2014, Jørgensen performed at the Music and Beyond festival in Ottawa, performing Daniel Mehdizadeh’s “The Awakening of Baron Samedi”.
Jørgensen has been described as “one of the most important exponents of classical music on the theremin”. In interviews, he has said he considers the theremin capable of being a serious instrument, rather than the novelty it is normally perceived as. He believes he can reproduce all the sounds in a typical classical string section from double bass to violin. Read More
So I guess this is enough interesting information for one day! I could go on and on……..
Here is Leon Theremin playing his own invention…….and Check out Johnny Carson playing the theremin here