Gordon Charlton: Exotic Theremin Techniques (Instrument Masterclass)

Gordon is an unrepentant theremin enthusiast, the brains behind the successful Hands Off series of theremin events, which ranges from the world’s largest gathering of thereminists to landmark performances at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Southbank Centre’s annual Ether festival. He is also a stalwart of White Label Music’s groundbreaking Sonic Weekends, a continuing experiment in guerrilla recording, having participated in every Sonic Weekend since they started.

Gordon records and performs under the nom de guerre Beat Frequency as, he explains, “The theremin is more than an electronic instrument, it is a cybernetic instrument both in the science fiction cyborg sense, and also the technical Norbert Wiener sense; the player being, electronically speaking, part of the instrument, and, lacking any tangible reference points, utterly dependant on an audio feedback loop. The beat frequency is at the heart of the theremin. My aim is to rediscover the theremin as an instrument of the third millennium, informed by the physics of the instrument and based on a fundamental understanding of psycho-acoustics rather than applying it to common practice music, which makes as much sense as a didgeridoo in a classical orchestra.”

His visceral sonic excursions are reminiscent of the early days of Industrial Music, and his fluid, evolving soundscapes have been likened to the music of Raymond Scott, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Gyorgy Ligeti, Nurse With Wound and Throbbing Gristle. The third Beat Frequency album, The Invisible Horn, was released recently by White Label Music.

Gordon’s sessions will include a demonstration and discussion of the “Beat Frequency” method and the use of effects to process theremin audio as well as an opportunity to have “hands off” experience of playing a theremin.

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