The eerie sound of the theremin is familiar from many science fiction movies and TV shows.
One of the electronic instruments made a narrow escape from the rubbish tip and will be heard again as part of the School of Art's Canberra centenary program, playing the same composition it premiered in 1975 at the Australian National University.
Professor Larry Sitsky wrote The Legions of Asmodeus, for four theremins, for the ANU's Computers and Electronics in the Arts event. This was part of Canberra's Australia 75 Festival of the Creative Arts and Sciences.
The work was performed in the presence of then prime minister Gough Whitlam. Two theremins were purchased and new media artist Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski designed and built two more for the occasion.
Over the years, one of the Ostoja-Kotkowski theremins was lost. And the other?
Professor Martyn Jolly, head of photography and media arts at the ANU School of Art, said: ''I had known the theremin had been discovered in a rubbish skip, I think about 10 years ago, and entered into the ANU School of Art collection.''
It was hung in a couple of locations like a painting before being rescued and restored in a joint effort by the School of Art, the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, the Research School of Computer Science and the Research School of Engineering.
The electronic components of the rescued theremin have been rebuilt by Australian electronic media historian Dr Stephen Jones, in collaboration with Alistair Riddell from the ANU School of Art.
On Friday, it will be launched by Professor John Hosking, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, at the School of Art Gallery, just before the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on October 27. Computer science doctoral student Charles Martin will play the lead theremin with the group Ensemble Metatone to recreate the Sitsky piece along with other electronic music works, including Metalonsdale for four iPads.
''It should be fun,'' Martin said.
''It will be interesting to get inside an event that was at the ANU almost 40 years ago … and it's an interesting and challenging instrument.''
■ The Legions of Asmodeus and other works will be performed at the ANU School of Art Gallery, Liversidge Street, Acton on Friday, October 25 at 6pm. Admission is free.