In the 1920’s, a Russian physicist named Leon Theremin invented one of the world’s first electronic musical instruments. Named after its inventor, the theremin is a unique musical instrument where the performer doesn’t need to touch it to play it.

 

Theremins have two metal antennas, one sticking up that is used for controlling frequency or pitch, and another one on the side used for controlling the amplitude or volume. The performer moves their hands nearer or further away from the antenna, this interferes with the electromagnetic field surrounding them, this then controls the oscillators inside the instrument to produce and control the sound.

 

The theremin is sometimes referred to as the most difficult musical instrument to play. It can sound like a human singing, or be used to create otherworldly sci-fi noises.

 

In 1946 after returning to Russia, Leon Theremin invented a secret listening device known as “The Thing”. Hidden inside a large carved wooden eagle was a small listening device. The object was presented as a gift to the United States embassy in Moscow where it hung on the wall for seven years allowing secret agents to listen in and spy on the conversations happening inside!