Weekly Update - 04.28.21

Weekly Update - 04.28.21

For this week in library news, I thought I’d write a fun fact column since I recently learned a new one. It all started when I was re-watching an episode of Midsomer Murders. After it was over, I watched a “behind the scenes” documentary about the show which discussed the distinctive theme song and how the sound is created; it turns out that one of the main instruments used is called a theremin, which I had never heard of before and so I had to do a bit of research (of course).

To offer some context, or background on the TV show that inspired this column for those who are unfamiliar: Midsomer Murders is a British TV series that is set in Midsomer County and follows a Detective Chief Inspector, Tom Barnaby, and his Sergeant as they investigate murder and mayhem. For a murder mystery series, it has a levity and humor to it which is a nice contrast to the drama of the crimes being investigated. If you are a mystery fan yourself, I’d recommend this series and, conveniently, we have seasons (or series) 1 through 21 on our shelves for you to borrow. And if you prefer to read your mysteries, there’s a book series that inspired the TV show by author Caroline Graham; the first of which is The Killings at Badger’s Drift and is available in eBook format on Hoopla. As is fairly common, be prepared for differences between the books and the show because several characters have been altered.

Now that I’ve covered that: the theremin. The theremin was invented in the 1920s by Leon Theremin who was a scientist and inventor from Russia and is one of the first electronic musical instruments ever invented. Though the design has altered slightly over time, the original theremin was a large box with a rod antenna that stuck out of the top of the box on one side and a loop antenna that stuck out of one of the sides. To play it, the musician doesn’t actually touch the instrument; electromagnetic fields are created by the antennas, with the top antenna controlling pitch and the side controlling volume, and the musician moves their hands through these fields to create sound. Theremins have been used to create sound effects for radio, television, and movies, but perhaps its most widely known use is in the soundtrack for the 1945 movie Spellbound starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.

In addition to the theremin, Leon Theremin used the circuitry of the instrument for several other inventions. One such invention we’re all familiar with is motion detectors which were used to turn on lights, set off alarms, or even open doors. If you’re interested in learning more about theremins, or other musical instruments or inventions, browse through our catalog or our databases for a topic that sparks your interest; or log in to your account on our website to place holds on Midsomer Murders, the TV series or the books!