If you clicked on today's Google Doodle, you may have been a little confused. The sepia-colored animation welcomes you to your first theremin lesson. You probably moved your mouse around, heard some haunting music, and had a lot of questions. It turns out that the woman illustrated in today's Doodle is Clara Rockmore, an early pioneer of electronic music and queen of the theremin, the world's first electronic instrument, according to The Telegraph. Today would have been her 105th birthday.
Rockmore was born in the then-USSR with the last name Reisenberg. She was a talented musician, and considered pitch perfect at the age of two. At only four years old, she was the youngest violin student ever accepted to the St. Petersburg Imperial Conservatory. According to the Nadia Reisenberg and Clara Rockmore Foundation, she had to perform her audition standing on a table. Her family fled during the revolution, and came to the U.S. in 1921. Despite having arthritis in her arm, she pushed to continue her work as a musician. And then she met the creator of the theremin. The theremin was the world's first electronic music instrument, and the first instrument that could be played without being touched. It has two antennae that control pitch and volume. The closer your hands move toward the vertical antenna, the higher the pitch. Rockmore became such an incredible theremist that she influenced future designs to the instrument. Although electronic music was uncommon at the time, Rockmore went on to perform as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Her innovations as a theremist influenced contemporary music. You can hear the theremin in the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and "No Quarter." The theremin also led to the creation of the first synthesizer, an instrument that has since been used by countless musicians. If you can make it through the Google Doodle's theremin test, it unlocks a little animation of Rockmore performing for the masses. So here's to you, Rockmore — one of several incredible women who've made history that you never knew about.