new-york

Ken Butler

Herron Test-Site

Superpowers would still be going at it with crossbows or flintlocks if new weapons were developed at the same rate as musical instruments. It is every violinist’s dream to own a Stradivarius made three centuries ago, and even aficionados of the electric guitar prefer Fender Stratocasters made before I was born. But if the history of musical instruments tends to slow to a standstill, Ken Butler’s show of “hybrid instruments” ought to set it moving again by leaps and bounds. Not exactly a musician, a sculptor, or a mad scientist, Butler is more a bricoleur who recycles castaway materials (ironing boards, toys, electronic gadgets, you name it) into new instruments that he likes to play in such hybrid extravaganzas of multimedia madness as his Two Fruit Flies: a micro opera, 1991.

There are good reasons why the violin form has remained largely fixed. Within the immanent limits of what a violin

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