[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Theremin_6683.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[-Leon Theremin playing the instrument he invented.-] ]]
%% One quote is enough, thanks.
->''"No instrument says 'You're in outer space!' more than a small cigar box with a radio aerial stuck to it."''
-->-- '''MarkKermode'''

The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theremin theremin]] (aka termenvox) is an electronic instrument developed in the 1920s. The player waves his hands near its antennas, using the electrical conductance of the body to alter the sound. It creates a very pure tone, and sounds like a lower-pitched version of someone tuning in an old-fashioned radio to a test signal. It's essentially a primitive analog synthesizer with an UnusualUserInterface, or a RealLife BizarreInstrument.

The [[{{Zeerust}} retrofuturistic]] and haunting sound of the Theremin is closely associated with SpeculativeFiction and horror from the black-and-white era, but it shows up in some very odd places.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/NodameCantabile'', there is an extremely creepy girl who resembles, and is mistaken by some to be, a StringyHairedGhostGirl. Her favorite instrument to play is the theremin.
* In Chapter 2 of ''Manga/SaintYoungMen'', the music-related sidenote about Jesus says that "he's curious about theremins".
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* First used in a Hollywood score in Hitchcock's ''Film/{{Spellbound}}''.
* ''Film/TheLostWeekend'', about a alcoholic's weekend-long binge.
* ''Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill1951'' is one of its most famous uses.
* Used in Tim Burton's bio-pic ''Film/EdWood'', to recreate the theme music from ''Film/Plan9FromOuterSpace''.
* Used to represent altered reality in ''Film/{{eXistenZ}}'' and ''Film/TheMachinist''.
* And in countless horror and science fiction B-movies between 1945 and 1960. In those times, if it wailed, it was usually a theremin.
* ''The Delicate Delinquent'', a Creator/JerryLewis film from the late 1950s, was unusual for having an actual theremin on screen instead of just using it for the score. It's mined for physical comedy, as Lewis' character stumbles upon it, slowly figures out that its sounds are corresponding to his movements, and starts dancing around it.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* As befitting a sitcom about aliens, ABC's ''Series/TheNeighbors'' used a theremin sting as its opening for the show's first season.
* The opening to ''Series/DoctorWho'' doesn't use one, but evokes the sound. The musicians in this case actually cobbled some parts from the technical department and ''built'' a synthesizer to simulate it.
* The melody of the theme of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' was actually never played on a theremin. A soprano singer emulated its signature sound.
* The ''Series/MidsomerMurders'' theme and underscore uses it, to great, creepy effect.
* The theme music to ''Series/DarkShadows'' does, as well.
* Sheldon Cooper from ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'' plays the theremin. Badly.
* Harry Lubin, composer for ''Series/OneStepBeyond'' and the second season of ''Series/TheOuterLimits'' (TOS), used the theremin extensively in his scores for both series.
* The title character in ''Series/{{Hannibal}}'' teaches his apprentice-turned-lover Alana Bloom to play theremin as part of his general bon vivant persona.
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[[folder:Music]]
* Hisashi Imai of Music/BuckTick has this as one of his signature instruments. It pops up in a lot of Buck-Tick's songs...
* Music/TheBeachBoys' "Good Vibrations" features a Tannerin (a.k.a. an Electro-Theremin, basically a theremin with ''mechanical'' controls for pitch and volume) in the chorus.
* "Whole Lotta Love" by Music/LedZeppelin.
* The '60s psychedelic band Lothar and the Hand People was known for using the theremin.
* The punk-reggae band The Dingees featured a guest thereminist on two tracks from ''The Crucial Conspiracy'', "Summertime" and "We Rot the Voodoo". It fit well with the album's sci-fi ConspiracyTheorist themes.
* Music/{{Converge}} used this extensively on their ''Jane Doe'' album, to genuinely heart-stopping effect.
* "Velouria" by Music/ThePixies.
* The Hungarian space rock band Omega has always loved the theremin, and it shows up in multiple songs.
* The Road Hammers may be the only country music band in history to use one.
* Vadim from Music/DragonForce plays one in addition to keyboard.
* Music/JohnOtway uses a theremin in part of his cover of Crazy Horses. He doesn't so much play it, as use it to replace the screams in the refrain.
* Music/BillBailey uses it as part of his keyboard setup, usually for comedic effect.
* Several of Music/DoctorSteel's songs incorporate the theremin (or at least samples of theremins).
* Possibly subverted in Music/TheB52s' song "Planet Claire" -- it sounds like they use a theremin at one point, but that's actually Kate Pierson's voice.
* In their more recent live shows, Music/SimonAndGarfunkel have used a theremin player for the instrumental break in "The Boxer".
* "Mysterons" by Music/{{Portishead}}.
* Music/ThePolyphonicSpree had a theremin player around 2004-2005, who appeared on their ''Together We're Heavy'' album.
* Used in "Stab My Back" by the All-American Rejects.
* Music/{{Covenant}}'s first hit single was named "Theremin" after Leon Theremin, the instrument's inventor, but [[NonindicativeName does not actually use it]].
* Notably used on "Electricity" and "Autumn's Child", both by Music/CaptainBeefheart.
* Japanese electropop artist Aira Mitsuki released a single called "Aira no Kagaku CD" (translated as Aira's Science CD). There are two tracks that prominently feature the Theremin -- a song called Science Music and her cover of Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence called Senjou no Merry Christmas.
* Twentieth-century composer PercyGrainger wrote for an ensemble of four to six Theremins (instead of a string quartet) in his composition "Free Music," utilizing their potential for notes of indeterminate pitch.
* TheOtherWiki lists several composers of 20th-century concert music who called for Theremins in their instrumentation: Bohuslav Martinů, Percy Grainger, Christian Wolff, Joseph Schillinger, Moritz Eggert, Iraida Yusupova, Jorge Antunes, Vladimir Komarov and Anis Fuleihan.
* Used rather poignantly on Music/{{Ulver}}'s ''Shadows of the Sun'' album.
* Ska/punk/funk band Music/{{Fishbone}} makes use of a theremin.
* Music/PatoFu's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPD8Pe8QV_o "Eu"]] not only has a SampledUp theremin, but also features the arrest of Leo Theremin in its video.
* The trance tune "Dark Blue" by Cabala.
* Music/TheSpaghettiWesternOrchestra use illuminated platforms and dramatic lighting to make a big deal out of the one use of a theremin in their show -- to replace the operatic female vocal in [[{{Leitmotif}} "Jill's Theme"]] from ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest''.
* Music/JoyElectric has used the instrument in concert as more of a noisemaker than a real "instrument".
* Used in "Terre-Mere" from Creator/CirqueDuSoleil's ''Totem'', and "Running on the Edge" from ''Amaluna''. (Or at least a similar-sounding synthesizer is used.)
* "Noises for the Leg" by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. It's implied that the theremin is being played by leg.
* Music/DreamTheater uses one in one verse in "A Nightmare to Remember".
* JeanMichelJarre used this in [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtyUmN9ubwk "Oxygene 9"]] and [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEo4IuEmwDA "Oxygene 10"]], likely in homage to classic sci-fi films.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/DestroyAllHumans'' uses it to evoke the 1950s alien invasion films which it parodies.
* ''VideoGame/TheMovies'' uses a theremin sound as the stock sound effect for handling a SciFi script.
* ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' has a theremin playing all the way through Dr. Grout's (a batshit insane leader of an equally insane vampiric clan) mansion.
* In episode 3 of ''VideoGame/StrongBadsCoolGameForAttractivePeople'', Homsar plays the theremin in Strong Bad's band D-÷-I. A ''giant'' theremin, that he plays by levitating and moving his whole body up and down.
-->'''Larry Palaroncini:''' Weird instruments are the new four-necked guitar!
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog''
** ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2''[='s=] final zone has a very long, theremin-heavy theme tune, the last vestige of a DummiedOut level.
** The [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjFMSsKUjLY Egg Carrier]] theme in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' also uses it, starting at 0:45.
* Liberally used in the soundtrack for ''VideoGame/BanjoKazooie'' and its sequels. The levels where it shows up are meant to evoke the feeling of a classic horror BMovie, {{Atlantis}} and an alien terrarium.
* A pocket theremin is a usable weapon in ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Descent}} 3'' uses a theremin-style synth for its [[RecurringRiff main theme]], as well as for the pentatonic Asian riff heard in Level 4.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3IM_9DE3WQ&feature=relmfu Welcome to the Machine]] from ''VideoGame/EccoTheDolphin''.
* ''[[VideoGame/RaySeries RayStorm]]'' uses it along with PsychoStrings in the [[NightmareFuel infamously nightmarish]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHBHltNIDss "Molecular Clock"]] boss music. Also used in the Special Mode theme from the PSX version of ''RayCrisis''.
* Used in one of the songs in ''VideoGame/GitarooMan'', "'Nuff Respect".
* ''VideoGame/PN03'' uses one in its first {{final boss}} [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4cNuow1rIg theme]].
* The music [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NyvvCGxRes "The Depth Napishtim"]](second FinalBoss theme) from ''VideoGame/{{Ys}}: The Ark of Napishtim''.
* The last part of the Chapter 3 music in ''VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead'' uses one. Appropriate for the horror setting.
* ''VideoGame/PerfectDark Zero'' uses a theremin in several soundtrack pieces, such as the main menu, Game Over and River Extraction themes.
* The last level of ''VideoGame/DeBlob 2'', set in space, features a theremin-heavy melody.
* ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'' has it during [[SillinessSwitch Wild Wasteland]] [[RandomEncounters encounters]].
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' and [[VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2 its sequel]] feature the theremin occasionally to match the space themes of the games, for example in the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z29bt-wjS88 Buoy Base Galaxy]] theme (starting around 0:46).
** ''SuperPrincessPeach'' has this in the Shriek Mansion level, complementing the BigBoosHaunt theme.
* ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing: New Leaf'' adds a theremin to the vast number of musical instruments players can collect.
* ''VideoGame/AngryVideoGameNerdAdventures'' has an 8-bit theremin-type sound in the [[BigBoosHaunt "Boo! Haunted House"]] BGM.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In the various musical tracks that accompany ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', [[BigBad Jack Noir]] is often leitmotifed by what sounds like a theremin.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* A theremin makes a last-minute appearance in the ending sequence of ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'', re-doing the opening theme.
* The video [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p8IC3ZJ4L8 "Nikola Tesla: Total Badass"]] by Dante Cimadamore opens with Tesla playing the theremin.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* I.R. Baboon plays a Theremin in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/IAmWeasel'', and the instrument somehow keeps causing earthquakes.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** In an episode, the family hear what they think is a ghost haunting their attic. On their way up to investigate, the obligatory spooky theremin music starts playing. Homer [[LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn hears the music]] and is not happy about the ghost getting a hold of his theremin.
** Despite being often featured on the soundtrack, it wasn't until the 2011 ''Treehouse of Horror'' episode that an actual theremin was used. (Before that, it was emulated by a synthesizer.)
* Used in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad''. While flashing back to the day he met Roger at Area 51, the theremin plays in the background. Stan stops and says he's [[LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn going to check the room it's coming from.]]
* In a post-revival episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', Bender dies and takes on a ghostly existence. When the characters call a sťance to exorcise the ghost, cue the creepy theremin track, but when the EstablishingShot ends, [[LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn it is Zoidberg playing it to his colleagues]].
* Used in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Grojband}}'' episode "No Strings Attached" for Trina's Diary Mode sequence for fear.
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