Andrey Smirnov :: workshops

Theremin Sensors Workshop

= 4-5 days with final concert-presentation of results =


This intensive workshop offers hands-on introduction to interactive systems, based on the theremin-sensor technology developed by Andrei Smirnov and based on the same principle as a well known electronic musical instrument the Theremin, invented by Russian inventor Leon Theremin in 1919.

The sensors are small and sensitive digital Theremins useful for numerous applications including motion tracking, gestural interfacing, monitoring of small variations of electrical capacitances related to any sorts of conductive materials and media, including metal objects, foil, liquids, water, human body, plants, metal threads, thin plastic films with metallization, all sorts of Christmas stuff etc.


As a starting point of the workshop participants will convert their laptops into digital multichannel Theremins to develop further during the workshop different interactive audio/video installations, motion capturing systems, unusual gestural interfaces and unique musical instruments.

The workshop is oriented on sound and media artists, composers and musicians, who have particular interest in sound art and interactive systems, forgotten history and musical technology in general.

The theoretical introductions, which accompany a workshop, give detailed technical overview of sensor technology and construction, basic principles of operation of the theremin based systems, art and music applications, useful concepts and ideas, condensed historical content, mostly related to almost forgotten historical facts.

Participants will learn

= How to detect different sorts of motion and measure it
= How to monitor very small variations of electrical parameters
= How to deal with the data acquired
= How to integrate these systems into musical performance, dance, video, sound and art installations
= How to program your own instruments and perform with them

Each participant should have a computer with an audio input and headphones. It could be useful to have as many mic stands as participants. All computers and software should be configured and checked in advance (!).

Participants should have some skills in PD or MAX/MSP programming.
It is also posible to work with any favorite software, oriented on interactive systems development, which allow external control via OSC or MIDI (Supercollider, Isadora etc.). In all cases control data will be provided via MAX/MSP runtime or PD patches from instructor's library. It is important to remember that in many cases the use of extra software will result in significant increese of latency and other possible timing problems.

Minimal configuration
1. Laptop with PD or MAX/MSP installed
2. Stereo audio input
3. Personal headphones
4. All appropriate cables
5. Appropriate amount of power plugs



Analog and digital USB sensors for testing, experimenting and performance as well as all appropriate software libraries will be provided by instructor as well as different stuff for antenna construction.



11:00 - 12:00 - Lecture:
Introduction to the Theremin Sensors and their applications.
12:00 - 13:00 - questions/break
13:00 - 17:00 - practical workshop

Participants can bring their own materials and antennas to experiment with, or use already prepaired stuff.
11:00 - 12:00 - Lecture:
Multichannel t-sensor systems: development and programming.
12:00 - 13:00 - questions/break
13:00 - 17:00 - practical workshop

Participants, individually or in collaboration, are developing some installations and performances for the final presentation.
11:00 - 12:00 - Lecture:
Motion tracking and beyond. Overview of different concepts.
12:00 - 13:00 - questions/break
13:00 - 17:00 - practical workshop

Participants, individually or in collaboration, are developing some installations and performances for the final presentation.
11:00 - 12:00 - Lecture:
Hotriding t-sensors. Tips and tricks.
12:00 - 13:00 - questions/break
13:00 - 17:00 - practical workshop

Last day
Last preparations and final presentation of results
Schedule will be announced


Learn More:

Theremin Sensors

Dealing with Theremin Sensors: pinouts and connections

Multichannel interfaces

Theremin Sensors Circuitry

Theremin Coil construction

Tests and troubleshooting

Classical Theremins

Extra Links:

Watch video of lectures at Hangar, Barcelona, June 2007