- Hugh Davies
(b New York, NY, June 19, 1934; d Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, Germany, Feb 9, 1993). American instrument inventor and composer. As a youngster in Brooklyn he was trained in classical music, but turned to jazz drumming and studied composition briefly with John Cage and Earle Brown. From 1962 (working at first in New York, then from about l973 in Asolo, near Vicenza) he constructed many instruments, influenced particularly by his involvement with the Fluxus group in New York. That association began in 1963, the same year some of his experimental instruments were shown at the Betty Parsons Gallery. He concentrated on self-playing instruments operated by small electric motors, to which beaters or lengths of leather bootlace that rotate like propellers are attached; many of them incorporate existing string and percussion instruments (often toys, and including zithers and normal and toy violins and guitars). Both motors and instruments are suspended on long strings or wires; their operation causes them to move around so that the sound varies continuously. Despite the simplicity of the basic idea of nearly all of Jones’s instruments, in most of which sustained sounds are derived from sources that are normally percussive, they produce a surprisingly wide range of delicate and subtle sounds....