August 9, 2013

Armen Ra

Somehow Armen has slipped through the cracks for me. How is it that I'm just now discovering him? I guess Theremin players don't really interest me in and of themselves. I've always loved Clara Rockmore, but it wasn't just her playing, which was incredible, she also had a cinematic, otherworldly quality to her. I bought a theremin from Big Briar (Bob Moog's company in the 90's) when I was about fifteen years old and it came with a VHS tape of Clara playing at a dinner party (if you look for videos of Clara, these are the first you'll probably find). I watched it all the time. 

Armen Ra is one of the top Theremin players in the world right now, he's performed at The United Nations, Wiener Konzerthaus Mozartsaal Vienna, Lincoln Center and the Disney Concert Hall in LA. I always thought when Clara Rockmore played the theremin it sort of sounded like a violin (which she had played from a young age). When I heard Armen's playing I instantly said "Wow, it sounds like a woman's voice!". And sure enough in interviews he says that he's most inspired by sopranos and tries to make his theremin sound as as mellow and non-buzzy as he can. And like Clara he's also pretty other-worldly as well --almost like a Klaus Nomi type character. He actually looks like he could have been related to Clara Rockmore! Don't you think? There's a documentary in the works about Armen and I am so excited to see it!


  1. Theremins are pretty interesting instruments. I was under the impression that you needed filters to get sounds other than buzzing. I only got to play with a theremin once at a music store. So my firsthand knowledge of them is pretty limited ;)

    I remember Jeff Cloud would grab the tone antenna (whatever it's called) during some moments in JE concerts. It would make this crazy vweee! sound!

    Klaus Nomi... lol that reminds me of this:

  2. Ha, that's amazing! I didn't know he'd become a cartoon. Have you seen the doc about Klaus? It's wonderful... everything a doc should be!

  3. Iggy Pop and David Bowie were also in that episode, haha :) I'll have to check out the Klaus doc as I don't know much about him. Other than his apparently hidden talents of flight & attacking people with high-pitched vibrato screeches :o