3D50.30 - Theremin

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Variable Pitch Electronic Circuit
Area of Study:
Theremin Unit, Radio Shack Amplifier Speaker, and VHS Video Tape: "Theremin - An Electronic Odyssey."

Video Credit: Jonathan M. Sullivan-Wood.

The Moog Theremin unit has two antenna.  The curved one is for volume control and the straight one is for pitch control.  You can also adjust the pitch, waveform, and brightness using the controls in the front.  This unit also has the ability to control other devices using the outputs located on the bottom of the unit. 

Plug the Theremin unit into the amplifier speaker.  Turn the speaker volume way up and adjust the tuning capacitor on the Theremin until a high frequency pitch is heard.  Now as your hand is brought near the antenna the pitch should change.  With much practice tunes may be played.

  • Silvia Alonso-Perez, "Use of Theremin as an Introductory Physics and Electronics Learning Tool", TPT, Vol. 61, #9, Dec. 2023, p. 742.
  • Nick Holonyak, "Theremin Oscillators and Oscillations", AJP, Vol. 67, #5, May 1999, p. 369. 
  • Kenneth D. Skeldon et al., "Physics of the Theremin", AJP, Vol. 66, #11, Nov. 1998, p. 945.
  • Yaakov Kraftmakher, "7.7. Metal Detection and the Theremin", Experiments and Demonstrations in Physics, ISBN 981-256-602-3, p. 455.
  • "Theremin: An Electric Odyssey", Discover - The World of Science Magazine, Dec. 1998, p. 52.
  • Jake Rothman, "Simple Theremin".
  • Paul Noel, "Optical Theremin Instruction Manual", AAPT Summer Meeting 2018.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.