dave yarwood
Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" on Theremin


July 5, 2014


Theremin performance at Letters Bookshop from INDY Week on Vimeo.

I figured I could use this blog to show off some music stuff that I’ve been doing, too. Why not, right? I’ve already got links to two recent bands I’ve been a part of, Antibubbles and No Love, over there in the sidebar.

So, a secret talent of mine is that I am a thereminist. The theremin, for those who’ve never heard of it, is a fascinating musical instrument invented by a Russian scientist named Lev Termen (a.k.a. Léon Theremin) in the 1920s. A few months ago, Montreal-based music critic and author Sean Michaels contacted me and asked me to play the theremin as an opener to the Durham stop on his book tour promoting a wonderful novel he wrote called Us Conductors, a semi-fictionalized memoir of Lev Termen, inventor of the theremin. (By the way, I’ve just started reading it and it’s fantastic. Equal parts period nostalgia, love story, spy novel, and more! By all means, pick up a copy if you’re intrigued – if you’re in Durham, you can get it at Letters Bookshop, if nowhere else.) The event took place at Letters Bookshop on Main Street in Durham. I kicked things off with a rendition of Saint-Saëns Le Cigne (“The Swan”) on the theremin, with a recorded piano backing track.

The Independent Weekly did some great coverage the week of the event, featuring some pictures of me, my theremin and my hand to accompany a great interview with Mr. Michaels which they also included in the print version of the Indy that week. Then the Indy was kind enough to film my performance of “The Swan” and include it on their website! The event was well-attended, but I’m happy that there is video up for the benefit of those who couldn’t make it. Enjoy!