Clara Rockmore Google doodle doubles as a theremin to celebrate musician’s 105th birthday

clara google doodle

Today’s Google doodle marks not only the 105th birthday of famed virtuoso Clara Rockmore, but also celebrates her musical instrument of choice, the theremin, a gesture-controlled instrument invented by Léon Theremin.

Designed by a large-scare team that included artists, interactive designers and engineers, the interactive doodle doubles as a digital theremin.

To start, users are given three quick lessons on how the instrument works by playing a one-note, two-note and then a five-note melody. Once the lessons are complete, users can play whatever tunes they choose, with access to key, scale, octave and waveform controls.

google theremin controls

According to the doodle’s interactive designer, Kevin Burke, the team wanted to make the theremin’s controls realistic to Rockmore’s time period.

“The knob textures were rendered to mimic Bakelite, the early plastic. We chose the wood texture for its similarity to the wood of Clara’s RCA theremin,” says Burke. The team also worked with a number of audio engineers to get the quality of the theremin’s sound just right.

The doodle includes a search icon that leads to a search for “Clara Rockmore” and social links so that users can share the doodle on the social media networks or send via email.

Originally trained as a violinist, the Google Doodle Blog says Rockmore traded the violin for the theremin when the violin became too much of a physical strain. She is credited with convincing Léon Theremin that his musical instrument should be “more responsive and offer a greater range of notes.”

Google says its Clara Rockmore doodle is “… a natural accompaniment to Google Creative Lab’s launch of the Chrome Music Lab.”

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