Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Music & Performing Arts



First Advisor

Lanier Sammons


This project will examine the unusual and versatile instrument known as the theremin. It will look at the history and development of the instrument as well as the story of its Russian inventor, Leon Theremin, and notable performer Clara Rockmore. The physics behind the instrument will be briefly examined. Several prominent uses of the theremin in popular culture/media will be studied including its use in science fiction movies of the 1950s. Also examined will be the electro-theremin, a simplified version of the instrument which is used as a distinguishing feature of the 1966 music of the Beach Boys in "Good Vibrations." Additional instruments inspired by the theremin will be explored. An experimental robotic theremin player will be discussed. This paper will focus on the creation and evolution of the theremin and the usage thereof in the music industry, the movie industry, and the scientific community.

Included in

Music Commons