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Electro-Theremin

The Electro-Theremin is a unique electronic musical instrument developed by trombonist Paul Tanner[?] and amateur inventor Bob Whitsell[?] in the late 1950s. The instrument features a tone and portamento[?] similar to that of the Theremin (Thereminvox), for which it is named. Unlike the Theremin, the Electro-Theremin uses mechanical controls rather than hand movement in space to control pitch and amplitude. The Electro-Theremin also produces a less complex timbre, as all sounds are created using a single sine wave[?] oscillator rather than the Theremin's mixture of two heterodyning oscillators.

The instrument was custom-built at the request of Tanner, who appreciated the Theremin sound but wanted greater control of note pitch and attack. It featured a long slide bar controlling pitch, and a knob for controlling amplitude. The Electro-Theremin was never mass-produced or sold, and Tanner's prototype may have been the only one in existence.

Tanner played the instrument on a number of television and movie soundtracks, an LP entitled Music from Outer Space. Most famously, Tanner played his Electro-Theremin on three tracks by The Beach Boys, including "Good Vibrations". He sold his only Electro-Theremin in the 1960s, as he felt that modern synthesizers were making it obsolete.

In 1999, a man named Tom Polk reconstructed a version of the Electro-Theremin and named it the Polk-Tannerin[?].

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