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Keyboards Electro-Theramin

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
On another thread my highly steamed friend OG said
"that capacity coupled thing that Brian Wilson used in "Good Vibrations"
and that's what I thought too. The Theramin has come up in other threads.

I was a bit surprised to find then that the Theramin played on Good Vibrations and other Beach Boys records was in fact not a normal one at all but was developed and played by trombonist Paul Tanner. He played in Glenn Miller's band and later became a lecturer at UCLA. His Electro-Theramin - so called to differentiate it from the normal Theramin, which confusingly is also electro(nic) - was so far as I can tell a more calibrated, in pitch and amplitude, audio oscillator and amplifier. Not at all like the hand capacity variable instrument I had heard of and seen Bill Bailey playing. Paul Tanner himself thought it was somewhat fraudulent to liken it to a proper Theramin.

I came across this from an unsual direction, as you do. My sax band is starting (or re-learning for some who did them years back) some arrangements of Glenn Miller stuff. I just had a listen to my own Glenn Miller compilation CD which does not have any personnel listed so I had a trawl. I knew some of the players - tenor Tex Beneke, clarinet Peanuts Hucko, cornet Bobby Hackett, but it was not easy finding definitive lists, not least because the personnel changed, especially when it became an Army Airforce band. Anyway that's where I came across Paul Tanner and the Electro-Theramin.

Funny where things lead to.

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