Theremin and Electric violin
It’s interesting that the word невесомость (weightlessness) appeared in Russian only about a hundred years ago, coined in the early 20th century by artist Kazimir Malevich creator of the famous “Black Square”. Today everyone understands what is meant by this term even though it has really been experienced only by those who have been into near-Earth orbit. It is possible that we will live to see space become accessible to many and we may even be able ourselves to go into orbit as tourists or visit family members in settlements on the Moon or Mars. We will learn to live in conditions of weightlessness, to float, take a shower and cook meals.
For now, weightlessness has to be imagined by most people and anyone can fancy how it would feel to glide effortlessly in flight, how to jump hundreds of metres or lift huge objects, as if having become incredibly strong. But there is no need to leave the earth to experience these things, all that is necessary is to free the imagination.
Russian scientist and musician, Lev Theremin (1896-1993), who invented the electronic musical instrument which bears his name, was possessed of boldness and imagination. His invention a hundred years ago in St. Petersburg paved the way for the use of electronics in music, opening up new horizons in art, culture and technology.
Sergei Korolev (1907-1966), who designed and launched the first “sputnik” in 1957 and the first manned flight to space, piloted by Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), in 1961 was also an audacious and visionary person. In 1965 cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (1934-2019) stepped through the hatch of the Voskhod-2 also designed by Korolev to become the first man to walk in space.
In 1923, several years after Lev Theremin demonstrated his novel musical instrument, American sound engineer Lloyd Loar (1886-1943) made the prototype guitar pickup, which began the electrification of stringed musical instruments.
In 2016 violinist Asya Sorshneva and thereminist Olesya Rostovskaya formed a duo. They have given a number of concerts in Russia and Austria and have made several recordings in which they simply improvised in the studio, without an audience. These recordings have been named “Weightlessness” and are dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Theremin’s instrument.
This music is about flying, floating free in space, contemplation of the infinite, of interstellar distances and particles invisible to the eye. It is about the mysterious luminescence of planets and scorching radiance of the stars, about the incredible distances our imagination can envisage and about the beauty of the universe.
Olesya Rostovskaya: composer and one of the world’s leading thereminists
Asya Sorshneva: broad ranging musician in diverse genres and winner of a number of international contests and awards.
These recordings include unrehearsed improvisations based on the sense of ensemble and their search for beauty.