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Feather, Neil locked

  • Laurence Libin

Extract

(b Sharon, PA, March 1, 1956). American instrument maker and musician. He was educated at Pennsylvania State University (BFA, 1978) and the University of Montana (MFA, 1980). Calling himself a ‘sound mechanic’, Feather has created families of fancifully named instruments often using recycled components. His ‘Nondo’ is a steel sheet strung lengthwise with music wire to form a shallow curve; string tension can be altered by pressing or lifting at points along the sheet. The strings can be struck with mallets or a steel rod can be rolled on top of the strings, which can be damped by the fingers. Feather’s ‘Former Guitar’ family originated as a modified Silvertone electric guitar and mutated into assemblages of guitar components. These instruments have two strings tuned an octave apart; they share tension through a ‘head’ that pivots under control of a long arm, causing one string to tighten as the other is loosened. The ‘Mototones’ comprise the ‘Vibulum’, in which a low-voltage motor swings over a magnetic bass pickup; the ‘Vibrokick’, which uses a kickdrum pedal to move the motor back and forth; and the ‘Vibrowheel’, which uses a flywheel to create rotary motion: as the wheel accelerates, centrifugal force slows the motors mounted on it until at very high flywheel speed the motors stop, but the wheel spins fast enough over the pickups to create a new tone....

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