7.10.14

I'll be at the London Mini Maker Faire!

 
I'm very excited to announce that I will be exhibiting some of my instruments at this years London Mink Maker Faire in Elephant and Castle!
 
 
 
The MAKE movement is something I'm very excited about and believe strongly in, I'm very honoured to be asked to be a part of it!
 
It is being held on Saturday 15th November at the London College of Communication.
 
I haven't quite decided exactly what to bring along yet, but expect to see/hear/be able to play some of these:
 
 

17.9.14

I'm playing a gig in London on Friday

I'm taking a few of my instruments for a spin in Londons Brick Lane on Friday!

It's going to be an evening of improv/experimental happy fun times.


Come down if you can!

A New Mouthbow


I've been commissioned to do a few new instruments, one of which was this nice, simple and hopefully elegant Mouthbow!






1.9.14

Updates!

 
It's been a while since an update so I'll keep this brief.
 
  • In 12 days’ time I will be running an ultra-marathon, which is a ridiculous distance of 50k (2,343 Blue Whales, 555 football pitches, 2.3 Manhattan Islands, 1 Channel Tunnel) to raise money for children in Nepal through a charity I helped set up many moons ago.
The program provides therapy, through art, dance and music and play it helps disadvantaged and often traumatized children heal and reminds them how to be kids again. A large portion of the kids we look after have travelled over the Himalayas from Tibet in order to seek refuge.
As an added incentive to donate to my effort, I will be raffling off one of my creations to every donor, and will also build a unique and custom instrument for whoever donates the highest amount (currently at an incredible £150!)
To donate, please go here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TomFox
To find out more about the charity please go here: http://www.artrefuge.org.uk/
 
 
 
  • A few weeks ago I gave a talk at the London Hackspace for the Acoustic Hacskapce meetup. You can read a very flattering write up about the evening over here.
 
 
As a result of that evening, I will be doing a gig in Brick Lane in September, more details on that to follow!
 
 
  • I currently have 3 commissions on the go, which is brilliant, very much looking forward to sharing these creations with you.
 

5.8.14

A simple Mouthbow

 
I saw a TED talk where David Holt played a Mouthbow, it sounded amazing and looked like it used similar mouth techniques that I've used before on Singing bowls. So I made a quick one from a plank of wood, a piano tuning pin and an acoustic guitar string. So so so so simple!
 
 

30.7.14

A short film about my work by Dave from Daves Conservatoire!



The amazing David Rees has made a short film about me! He's managed to make me sound coherent which is a testament to his excellent editing skills.


It also features my newest instrument which I still don't have a name for.


His website is an amazing place to learn music and music theory for free. Definitely worth looking into if you're wanting to teach yourself.

http://www.daveconservatoire.org/
 


16.6.14

Rich playing the Leviaphone

Before I hand off one of my Leviaphones I bought it into the studio to get Rich to play around on it, here's the video!


Analogue Interference Synth

 
This instrument is a quick prototype that could lead to some much bigger ideas.
 
In a lot of my droning machines I need to place the motors as far from the pickups as possible to avoid interference/noise being generated from the moving parts. With this instrument I've used that noise/interference to my advantage to generate a dirty-synth sounding tiny machine.
 
 
 
Using a small variable resistor to control the speed of the motor you can get different pitches of noise/interference when that motor is next to a pickup. Add a simple switch and you can get results like this:


 
Very very basic stuff, it could be replicated using two motors sat next to each other too instead of the transformer I used as a pickup in the prototype.

Reverse Slide Can

 
For my 101st post I'm giving you another incredibly simple instrument that you could build yourself in a matter of minutes.
 
With just a stick/bolt/pole going through a can/pringle tube/anything you can use a small cupboard hinge as a bridge/whammy bar hybrid.
 
 
You could have it one stringed or just simply loop the same string around and have a 2-stringed version.
 
Play with the hinge to alter the pitch, pluck it or bow it, easy peasy!
 
 

 

15.6.14

100th Post Extravaganza!

This is my 100th post on this here website and so I give you my first public outing with some of my instruments!
Recorded at the cha cha cha cafe in watford as part of a creative networking evening run by the very amazing Kick Up The Arts.


A special thank you to Stephen and Debbie for having me do a talk when they had no idea what I'd be talking about! 

5.6.14

The Springymaphone

 
 
 
This instrument came about from a conversation with experimental sound artist Phil Julian. He was after something percussive that would sound very large but also transportable! From my recent experiments with The Leviaphone I came up with the idea of having a few big chunky springs stretched close to a pickup (in this case was some long forgotten innards of a pump). The results of this simple configuration I think work very well...
 
 
 
 
I demonstrated this instrument recently at my talk in Watford and got a great response from it, I'd be happy to recreate/redesign similar pieces for those who'd be interested!
 




30.5.14

I'm doing a talk!

I sometimes forget I have a website, I'm mostly active on the twitters. So I really should mention that I'm doing a talk/demo next Tuesday in Watford.  I'll be bringing a bunch of instruments that you'll be able to play around with too.
Full details are below. I'm joined by some very talented people also showing off their works and there will be music and it's all free.
https://m.facebook.com/events/1431389810446684

9.4.14

The Leviaphone

This instrument came about from a Eureka moment on my long and dull commute into work. It's to replace the failed Dronemachine I built for Christopher Campbell.
 
 
 
It uses Piano wire, the springs from an anglepoise lamp, the circular insides of an electric fan motor and a bunch of hardware to act as a DIY tuning machine. It has a hefty iron rod to act as a form of truss-rod to withstand the massive tensions that piano wire can create.
 
The results are surprising, massive, and quite fun!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

22.2.14

Not all Dronemachines are created equal

As part of my commission for Christopher Campbell I created a fretted Dronemachine. It used circular washers, the shades from  desk lamps, my usual circular pickup from an electric fan, bits of shower rails and various bits and bobs.

The idea was nice and simple, the method of play was much like my other machines except that the washers acted like frets that you could shorten each wire with ease. In practise though, it proved very very difficult to build, and once the wooden base had warped slightly, it put all the frets out of place and messed up all my careful measurements!

I'm not one to hide the failures, if anything they're very good things to learn from... So here is the failure in all it's glory!

 
BUT, fear not, for I have come up with an even better sounding machine with which to replace this one with. Which is all very exciting.

28.1.14

Dronemachine MKIII

My latest commission is one of two Dronemachines for composer Christopher Campbell.
 
 
 
 
 It's made from 100% reclaimed materials. The Circular cog acts as an adjustable bridge that you can change the pitch of the strings by rotating it slightly. An unexpected result of the design was that when the bridge is turned, one half of the strings go up in pitch while the other half goes down! it sounds like this:
 





The second machine will be ready shortly which has a slightly different playing mechanism! Be sure to check out Chris' label Innova Recordings

10.1.14

The sweet spot tool.

I have 2 commissions coming to a close in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I'd like to share with you this tool I created.
 
Now the maths and physics behind surface resonance and bridge placement in instruments is complicated. Especially if your instruments are a but special, like mine. That's why I came up with this simple tool for finding the sweet spot!
 
 
It's simply a piano tuning pin (which I can sell you!) and a little bolt for an anchor. It works thusly:
 

 
 

22.10.13

An Almost Shop

I often have far more bits of things in stock than I could ever possibly use, which is why I've decided to sell them on to you good readers.
 
I don't have the time to set up a proper shop at the moment, so I will simply be updating THIS PAGE with what I have and how much I'd be willing to part with them for. I intend to add quite a variety of unusual/hard to track down bits and pieces that would be helpful for odd instrument makers like myself!
 
 
 
Also on the page I've added a few rough commission prices for the most commonly asked about instruments, so have a gander at those too.

10.9.13

The Actuatolin



This is an instrument made from an old heating valve Actuator casing, a strip of wood and a bunch of Piano Tuning pins. There's not much more to say about it!




I've been a bit slack with the Blog lately, I've got tons of JUSTABOUT finished projects coming up though. If you're interested in what I do, the best way to stay up to date is with Thee Twitters

12.7.13

Instructable on the Tennis Racketar

 
I've finally made a how-to on the Tennis Racketar that I made all those years ago, I've put it all up on Instructables for your viewing/learning pleasures.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 I did another video too, although the playing skills are really no different!
 

2.7.13

How-To: The 5 minute tunable 1-stringed instrument

This is a quick how-to on how to build yourself the easiest/quickest tunable stringed instrument in the world out of bits you probably have lying around your house.



The wire I used was from the inside of a washing line, however you can use a plethora of other types of wire/fishing line/old guitar strings etc.

The button is used to prevent the plastic lid from splitting, you can use buttons, or a nail, toothpicks, a pencil. Anything that will spread the tension of the wire so that the soft plastic doesn't rip/tear.
 
If you or your kids or your class end up making one of these, I'd love to see the results!