Carolina Eyck started playing a musical instrument for the same reason a lot of people do: Her parents made her.
“They had a band which played electric music and they wanted to use the theremin,” says the German musician, who was 7 at the time. “They gave me the instrument to practice, and I played in their band.”
The theremin is unique in that one plays the electronic instrument without ever touching it. Instead, the player’s hands move between two metal antennas to alter the sound. Usually the right hand controls the pitch and the left hand the volume, combining to make a sci-fi-ish “woooOOOOOooooEEEEEEEoooooo” sound.
Eyck’s parents must have been on to something, because their daughter stuck with the instrument — though she’s moved way beyond “wooOOOOoooeeeee” sounds. Thursday at the Mansion at Strathmore, she’ll perform classical works with pianist Sun-A Park; during her show Friday at Amp by Strathmore, she’ll loop in lyricless vocal tracks, building the sound into something orchestral and otherworldly.
“I like to explore that in my compositions — how I can combine theremin and voice so it sounds harmonically together,” Eyck says. “Sometimes you maybe can’t even distinguish them, and it makes a new sound.”
Eyck is somewhat of a theremin evangelist; in addition to touring and composing, at 16 she began to develop an entirely new playing method, outlined in her 2006 book “The Art of Playing the Theremin.” So she’s a little bristly about the instrument’s reputation.
“Many people might think the theremin is only capable to play melodies which are a little spooky-sounding, but that’s not the case,” she says. “It can produce very delicate melodies in classical music, for example, but because of the electronic components we can add different effects, which are then used to add more color. I would like people to be open-minded and see the broad picture of the instrument.”
The Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, Md.; Thu., 7:30 p.m., sold out.
Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda, Md.; Fri., 8 p.m., $20-$35.