The Day The Earth Stood Woo-Woo

This week Tony’s team was tasked with defining “woo-woo.” Dana, who listens on KQED from San Francisco, provided a possible etymology:

The term is a stylized imitation of the old science fiction movie sound track use of the Theremin, one of the oldest electronic music instruments. It is played by moving a hand in front of a little antenna on the instrument which controls pitch. Theremins make a simple nearly sinusoidal tone, and the free space movement of hands as the controller makes all sounds into strong vibrato and glissandos. They were popular in 1950’s cheesy sci-fi movies. People imitate their sounds by going “Wooo-Woooo.” Google Theremin to learn about León Theremin, the Russian scientist who invented this instrument in the early 1930’s.

Listen to a theremin in action:

2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *