Google’s latest in the ‘Stay and Play at Home with Popular Past Doodles’ series lets you play the musical instrument called the theremin. The interactive doodle honours virtuoso theremin performer Clara Rockmore, and lets people create their own music. It also features the artist singing the notes a user picks.
Google brought back the 2016 doodle created to honour the legendary artiste on her 105th birthday, and lets users play the lesser-known instrument that is said to have inspired the synthesiser later.
For the uninitiated, the theremin is an electronic musical instrument that is played without any physical contact, and the musician is known as the thereminist. The gesture-controlled instrument consists of two metal antennas that sense the relative position of the performer’s hands. The player control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude with the other.
So, using the same principles, the designers of the doodle made users hover through the notes seen on screen and produce a theremin’s sound.
But they also created a sound quality that resembled Rockmore’s voice. The noted woman artist was said to have ‘made music from thin air’.
According to Google’s blog on her birthday doodle, she had not only mastered the performance, she also influenced its development. She convinced its creator, Russian inventor Léon Theremin that it “should be made more responsive and offer a greater range of notes (5 octaves instead of 3).”
In its blog Google noted, “Though electronic music was uncommon in formal music settings in the 1930s, Rockmore performed as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony.”
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.