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1932 __ Terpsitone
Lev Sergueïevich Termen (Лев Сергеевич Термен) (1896-1993)
Comment : The Terpsitone, named after the muse of dance Terpsichore, was a dance controlled instrument using the same capacitance principles of the Theremin. The Terpsitone was designed built by Lev Termen (Leon Theremin) for his wife who was a dancer. The Terpsitone removed the control antenna of the Theremin and replaced it with a large metal sheet hidden under the floor. Movements of the dancers in the area above the sheet caused variations in pitch of the Terpistone's oscillators due to the capictance of the dancers bodies. This instrument was used for several 'exotic' dance, music and light shows throughout the 1930's. (Compiled from various sources)[B]y the new electrical system of Theremin, which depends, like the original device named for him, on the phenomenon known as “body capacity,” it is possible for a dancer to dance in tune as well in time. In place of the rods used in the first “Theremin,” there is an insulated metal plate beneath the dancing floor. As the dancer bends towards it, the electrical capacity is increased, and thereby the pitch of an oscillating tube circuit is lowered; as she rises on tiptoe, for instance, the pitch of the oscillator is increased. The output of this oscillator is beat against that of another of fixed tune, producing an audible (not superhet.) frequency and this is amplified and fed into a large, square reproducer. Thus the motions of the danseuse are concerted into tones varying in exact synchronism with her pose. In fact, the motion of either an arm or a leg is sufficient to produce a noticeable change of tone. The loudspeaker used to give this individual tone interpretation of the dance is supplemented by another, reproducing a background of the theme music previously selected. It need hardly be said that there is a great deal of scope for individual talent in coordinating bodily movements so that the sound thus produced will not only fall pleasantly upon the ear, but also combine harmoniously with the preselected phonograph records. In other words, this is a field of pure artistry. Another feature combined with it is an automatic colored light accompaniment. The “visual note indicator” is a panel of lamps of different colors. This, however, is accomplished by a method partly mechanical; a tuned reed behind each lamp vibrates when its corresponding note is sounded, and thereby closes the circuit lighting its lamp. Thus the notes evoked by the artist’s motions are shown by lights flashing simultaneous up and down the panel; one for “A,” another for “C,” and so through the gamut. The wall apparatus [, shown in the illustrations,] contains 4 tubes: 2 oscillators, one of constant pitch (after it is set), and one varied by the movements and altered capacity of the metal plate attached to its grid circuit; 1 mixer, or modulator tube, and audio-frequency amplifier. [Below] these are the transformers and tuned coils. In the control panel above, there are volume and tone controls, including one for the vibrator which operates the “visual note indicator” lamp panel. We have thus a new instrumentality of the terpsichorean art, as well as the lyric, combining the best features of both; and permitting even greater expression of individuality, as well as demanding even more refined technique. And all from another extension of the principle of “hand capacity,” which used to be such a nuisance to the seeker after DX. (C.P. Mason, In Radio Craft, Dec. 1936, p.365)
French comment : Le « terpsitone » : inspiré du thérémine, cet appareil se présente sous la forme d’une scène munie d’antennes. Des danseurs y évoluent, produisant la musique par les mouvements de leurs corps dans le champ électromagnétique. (Compiled from various sources)Le terpsitone: ou comment faire de la musique en dansant! le terpsitone est une plateforme de dance. Le contrôle de la note est inséré dans la plateforme sur laquelle le danseur se tient. La grandeur/hauteur du danseur détermine la hauteur de la note. A genou, la note la plus basse, debout les mains tendues, la note la plus haute. Dans l'arc, le danseur/joueur peut utiliser n'importe quel mouvement pour déterminer la hauteur de la note. Sur la plupart des modèles, le volume et le vibrato sont contrôlé par un autre joueur, mais il existe aussi une version avec une antenne contrôlant ces fonctions près de la plateforme. Cet instrument était tellement difficile à maîtriser que presque seulement Clara Rockmore s'y est essayée en public. (etheremin.com)
Urls : http://120years.net/machines/terpsitone/index.html (last visited ) http://www.thereminvox.com/article/articleview/17/1/21/ (last visited )

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