If you think electronic music first appeared sometime between the late 1970s and early 1980s, you likely wouldn’t be alone. However, one of the first, electronic instruments, the Thermin, was actually patented by its inventor, Léon Theremin, in 1928. This device uses two antennas to produce sound, one which controls the frequency, and another which controls the instrument’s volume.
In fact, you can see Theremin himself “banging out” a tune in the video below, in a playing method reminiscent of a violin.
These devices, though rare in actual musical performance, can be purchased from such companies as Moog, or you can put one together yourself from parts.
If you’d like a head start on putting together your own together, this package from MicroKits, seen demonstrated in the video below looks quite simple. With just a few jumpers, chips, and a small speaker placed on a breadboard, it can produce these weird sounds using two hand-controlled antennas!
For another kit option, check out my writeup on the Open Theremin, which, though a bit more expensive than this simple kit, would be more at home in a performance environment!