This Is Atlanta With Alicia Steele

Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel

Scott Burland and Frank Schultz have known each other for years, but they didn’t start regularly playing music together until after one mostly unsatisfying collaboration. 

Both participated in a group improvisation at the Eyedrum Gallery where they couldn’t even hear each other. But when Frank, a guitarist, began experimenting with the lap-steel guitar, he suggested further collaboration with his friend Scott, who had bought a theremin on a whim years before.

The theremin, an early electronic instrument, has the distinction of being one of the only musical instruments that is played without touching. Two antennae shape pitch and volume when the player’s hands move around them.

Like the lap-steel, it has no keys, valves, buttons, or frets to mark notes; each instrument can glide from pitch to pitch. This allows for very unconventional, unusual, and potentially disastrous improvisational duets.

But both Frank and Scott appreciate the freedom (and potential chaos) the instruments allow. They augment their sounds with additional computer effects and their live shows are frequently enhanced with projections by local experimental filmmaker Robbie Land. They gig and tour frequently, but no show is ever the same.

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