If you’re wondering what today’s Google doodle is all about, then fret not, you’re not the only one. Commmemorating the 105th birthday of theremin virtuoso performer, Clara Rockmore, Google has posted an interactive musical doodle today on its homepage. This lesser-known instrument is said to have inspired the synthesiser at a later stage.
Born in 1911 in Lithuania, Rockmore made music from thin air, says the Google brief on the artiste who was actually a trained violinist. She later gave up the instrument and discovered the theremin, a gesture-controlled instrument named after its inventor, Léon Theremin. It was is said to be the first ever electronic instrument.
“I was fascinated by the aesthetic part of it, the visual beauty, the idea of playing in the air,” Clara is quoted on her foundation’s website, “and I loved the sound. I tried it, and apparently showed some kind of immediate ability to manipulate it. Soon Lev Sergeyevich gave me, for a present, the RCA model theremin.” She worked with the creator of the instrument and modified it to a more precise and responsive instrument, one with a five-octave range, instead of three.
Much like some of Google’s other interactive doodles, this one starts with a three-lesson tutorial on how to play the melody, followed by an opportunity to make your own music using the entire range. There goes work productivity for most of us!
The interactive Google doodle was created by artist Robinson Wood, interaction designer Kevin Burke, and engineers Will Knowles and Kris Hom (with support from the larger Doodle engineering team). The team translated the movement used to play the theremin — one hand controlling pitch and the other volume — to an interactive module, where a point of light controls volume and pitch. Sound designer Manuel Clément helped with the button sound effects.