In the early 1920s and 30s a strange electronic instrument found its way from Russia into some of the more fashionable ballrooms, night clubs, and concert halls in Europe and America. This exotic new invention, called the ‘theremin’ or ‘thereminvox’, caused a considerable stir. Part of the interest was its unusual sound (like a musical saw mated with a light soprano), but its most dramatic feature was that the performer never actually touched the instrument. He or she simply waved graceful hands near the two antennae (one set vertically, the other looped horizontally) to coax out seamless, melifluous melodies. The proximity of the right hand to the vertical antenna changed the ultrasonic electromagnetic field, thus changing the pitch over about a six-octave range. The left hand (or sometimes a foot pedal) controlled the volume. By gently shaking the right hand at the antenna a vibrato could be achieved, giving performances a little more musical (not to mention choreographic) interest. Fashionable women dressed in long gowns seemed to be favourite photographic subjects of the period as performers, as well as the inventor himself, poised ‘playing the rods’ in full dress tails, arms outstretched like a great conductor–or perhaps sorcerer.