In the last year, I was inspired by the television show Midsomer Murders to pick up the theremin because of their distinctive theme song. I liked the sound, but it was the fact that it was the only instrument you do not touch to play.
It looks something like this.
You hook it up to an amplifier, and then move your hands around the antenna to make your music.
I have played numerous instruments over the years: organ (not my thing), guitar (my hands were always too small), violin (something I went out of my way to play badly because it was more fun), the left-handed tuba (my personal favourite that I played extremely well, and the keyboard (for my undergraduate thesis, and picked it up fast and could play by ear), but nothing was like the theremin.
The older I got, the better I could play an instrument I chose, but I realized I had a way with instruments when I deliberately mangled my violin-playing to tweak my nose at my teacher at the time. My mom knew I wanted to learn the violin as a hobby, but my teacher didn't understand that not everyone wanted a career in it. I got good at making sound effects with it, and enjoyed the experimentation. My protests turned into real audio experimentation.
But my teacher cringed at my playing. I learned to never play the same bad way twice. You'd think she'd clue in that maybe I wasn't an unteachable ditz, but someone who could get worse in creative ways every week. I never made the same alien noise twice. She had a "talk" with my mom who clued in what I was actually doing, and became amused by the complaints. My teacher thought my mom was clueless to not to see how "serious" it was. She thought my subversive musical protests were adorable, and didn't put a kibosh on my lessons, wanting to hear what ungodly and comical noise I was going to play at my next lesson.
I could play music on the violin. but it came to the point I no longer wanted to play songs, but sounds. The violin and I were partners in mischief. I was a very well-behaved young lady -- but the violin allowed me to express myself in a more snarky way the same way a puppet allows a ventriloquist to have something else unleash his sarcasm. My puppet was the violin, and it was game for it all.
The tuba was different. I loved the tuba and the tuba loved me. I would love to take it up again as I miss it.
When I began to play the theremin, it was as if my two great instrumental loves came together: the distinctive noises of the violin meshed with the simplicity of musical sound of the tuba. I am picking up as quickly as I did the keyboard, too.
But it is an odd instrument to play. It is literally hands off, and how you move your hands and where takes awhile to master as is controlling the sound you produce.
As I began to play, it got me thinking about why journalism can't get it together: they have no control over their own noise. They are entrenched in narrative, wanting to meddle in how their audiences ought to think about things and different people.
That isn't their place. That's social engineering and deliberately rigging perceptions to generate a desired outcome, no matter whether or not that outcome would hurt the very people who are supposed to see the world a certain way.
The theremin is all about frequency and having a feel for those frequencies. It forces you to literally touch sound and move it. You don't feel those frequencies with your hands -- but you feel it emotionally.
You are literally sculpting sound -- and it completely gets you to understand your perceptions and your senses in a completely different way.
It is all counter-intuitive, but only because we are so trained by the rules and routines of traditional instruments that the revelation that there are other ways to make music.
And if journalism cannot reorient itself, then why not create a system that is made to reorient your senses, perceptions, and interpretations of reality?
I discovered it can be done -- and I have done it.
Journalism is yesterday's method: the method that is no longer in tune with a changing world.
Creating a new method opens new worlds and ideas to us -- something we can embrace as our world suddenly opens up a whole new universe for us to explore -- and chronicle as we hear every note and song the deepest truths of that universe has always wanted to give us, but never could as we were led to believe our world was small, predictable, and shackled by the narrow narratives and roles journalism told us were divine and unchanging reality...