The Deserters

The Slydee Returns

One of the self-built instruments used by the Deserters in our earlier days was an electronic gadget called the Slydee. It grew from a physics project about transistors where we had to make a circuit to flick between two bulbs. Lee (Newe) and I figured that if we linked this to a speaker instead of a bulb we would get a tone, and we were right. I then added a fader rescued from some old music system or something similar (Tandy, perhaps?) to give a very basic and almost totally uncontrollable keyboardless synth with a character all of its own.

I was wondering about the possibility of rebuilding it some time ago, as I’ve no idea what became of it, when I heard a radio programme about the theremin. After a bit of research I came to the conclusion that I deeply want one. No, need one!

Theremins (therema?) are controlled without touch. You move your right hand near its pitch aerial and left hand near the volume aerial to control the sound. It at worst it sounds just like a Slydee – at best it sounds almost like a human voice. Some folk use it for special effects, whilst others like Peter Pringle have gained sufficient mastery of this awkward littlecritter to make some wonderful music. I aim to be somewhere in between.