Students make airy music

February 28, 2013

HCC student Khamiko Konzsaki plays the thereminJay Ducharme, professor of electronic media, demonstrates the theremin.

One by one, the students came forward eager to try their hands at a musical instrument most of them had never seen before. Up at the front, they looked like conductors, moving their hands in the air while a series of electronic squeals and -- sometimes -- melodic passages poured from the amplifier behind them.

The instrument they were playing is called a theremin and it was made available for sampling during a lecture Wednesday by HCC professor Jay Ducharme on the birth of electronic music.

"Leon Theremin invented it in 1918, and it's still the only instrument you play without touching it," said Ducharme, a musician and professor of electronic media.

Rather than using strings, air or reeds, the theremin makes music through invisible, oscillating electric signals. It has two antennas, a horizontal loop, which controls amplitude (volume) and a vertical spire, which controls frequency (pitch). Musicians control the sound through the motion of their hands in the air.

Photos: (Left) HCC music student Khamiko Konzsaki tries out the theremin. (Right) Jay Ducharme, professor of electronic media, demonstrates the theremin.


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040