The pencilina is an electric board zither played primarily by striking the strings with sticks; also by plucking and bowing. Bradford first created it around 1985, and has continued to refine it. (It just keeps developing," he says.) The basic form is of two boards mounted parallel to each other on a stand, like extended guitar necks with no bodies. Each has a bridge at either end, and tuning machines at one end. One of the necks has six guitar strings stretched across it; the other has four bass strings. Wedged over and under the strings in each neck is a stick an old drum stick for the guitar strings and a metal rod for the bass strings. The sticks divide each string into two segments, one on each side, which vibrate quasi-independently and so can be played separately. The sticks can also be moved to alter the effective string lengths on either side.
The slidable stick arrangement, it turns out, is laden with odd sound possibilities. Typically the wedged stick divides each string into two separate string segments with different pitches depending on their relative lengths. But for many stick locations, there is communication across the stick, so that when one side is struck the segments on both sides contribute to the sound. The quality of this effect depends on the pitch relationship between the two strings segments and whether they share any overtones frequencies in common. All manner of strange gong-tones can arise, infinite in their variability. Other special effects occur when the player pivots or flexes the wedged sticks to change the tension on the strings as they sound. The fact that the electromagnetic pickups are movable adds yet another parameter.
|HISTORY - PHOTOS||