To feature the sounds of the theremin and to coincide with the eerie Halloween vibe permeating throughout the Samek Art Gallery, I included the opening clip of Dark Shadows as an introduction to this post! At the beginning of next week, Monday October 29- Wednesday October 31, the Samek Art Gallery is teaming up with the Weis Center’s guest musician Rob Schwimmer– world renown composer, pianist, and thereminist that has had his music featured in theater productions, television series, documentaries, and feature films.
Schwimmer is just one person throughout the history of the theremin to capitalize on the instrument’s entertainment value. Theremin music was especially popular in sci-fi television series and films during the 1950s and 1960s. Therefore, it is no surprise that shows like The Twilight Zone, Dark Shadows, and Star Trek or films like The Day the Earth Stood Still, It Came From Outer Space, and Voodoo Island all used theremin music in their productions. However, I did find it interesting to learn that Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the era, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scobby Doo, The Smurfs, and Wacky Races incorporated theremin music into their sound effects.
In the 1970s and 1980s, theremin usage in pop culture hit a lull and it was not until the late 1990s that the instrument began to appear again in films and t.v. series. For example, the score of Batman Forever and episodes of the X-Files most notably used theremin music in the 1990s. Today, the theremin is played by the Big Bang Theory’s corky scientist Sheldon Cooper and has been featured in episodes of the cartoon series Futurama and The Simpsons.