The Theremin in Ed Wood

Ed Wood

Score by Howard Shore
Theremin played by Lydia Kavina

This film documents the life and films of Ed Wood, one of the most notorious film makers in history. From the age of four or five, Ed Jr. showed an interest in film, running around the neighbourhood, often in a dress, taking pictures. Later he began writing screenplays and making films with the local kids. He spent all his time at the movies, his favourite films were westerns, later on he was to form a country & western band called 'Ed Wood's splinters'. Ed sure was a fancy dresser, but he was no slouch in the hetero department. Six months after Pearl Harbour, he enlisted into the marines, where he earned drawerfulls of medals, and wore the obligatory pink underwear under his battle fatigues.

Wood himself was injured, losing his front teeth to a rifle butt, and taking several bullets in the leg. When he left the marines our hero took up with a carnival heading for California. By 1946 Ed Wood had reached Hollywood. By 1948 he'd written, produced, directed and performed in his first big failure, a stage play, 'The casual company'. Casual company was a subject close to Ed's heart, he was a handsome man, and any pretty woman was at risk, particularly if she was wearing a fluffy angora sweater. That sweater would soon be off. An on to Ed. In fact, the duration of Ed's relationships were often dictated by how long a woman could stand having her clothes stretched all out of shape. The marriage to Norma McCarthy lasted only one nightgown.

Thereminist Lydia Kavina couldn't get to London in time for all the recording sessions, so Howard Shore also used the ondes martenot (Cynthia Millar, ondiste). Here's an interesting quote from Ms. Millar:

'Actually, I can't take all the credit for the stuff I did on that. Howard Shore was going to use the Theremin on that score, but the woman [Lydia Kavina] he hired to play the Theremin couldn't get to London in time for the early sessions. I basically laid down a lot of stuff which he later replaced. I have not seen the movie, but I think at the end of it all, the two of us were fairly interchangeable. I don't even know if I could pick one of us over the other. It is possible for the Ondes to make an approximation of the Theremin..'

(from http://www.cinemusic.net/spotlight/1999/cm-interview.html)

The story goes that Shore played the music over the phone, and Lydia Kavina made the theremin recording on a DAT tape and sent over for Shore to use. Both instrumentalists appear on the credits, however, and it appears that both instruments made it into the final 'cut'.

Items & Reviews for Ed Wood

Spellbound: Theremin


Ed Wood
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Ed Wood and the Theremin
Lydia Kavina

Lydia Kavina

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