Capacitive Theremin

Physical computing

Tools Used : Arduino, p5
Rediscovering the theremin using capacitive touch to sense users hand movement.

This project was inspired mainly by my curiosity surrounding capacitive touch. It takes into consideration the capacity of the human touch to cause a voltage change. While initially working on capacitive sensing, I came across theremin and worked on a smaller version before delving into the current model. The theremin is one of the earliest electronic musical instruments where a performer can control colume and pitch without any actual contanct with the instrument itself.

capacitive theremin where sensors are covered with an owl scarf

In this rendition of the theremin, the volume was controlled using horizontal hand movement which was detected by the ultrasonic sensor in the side. The pitch itself was controlled using the capacitive brass plates. Each plate was tied to a different frequency. As users hand got closer to one particular plate, a frequency would be triggered.

stripped down theremin with markings of various components - capacitive sensor, cable to arduino and proximity sensor

Below is a video of the initial prototype. This prototype had two plates, one for frequency and the other for volume. They both increased as the users hand got closer to the respective plates.


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