Posts Tagged ‘Harry Partch’

Harry Partch

January 10th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Music

American composer Harry Partch wrote marvelously strange soundscapes, compositions that are a surge of percussive rhythms, subtle washes of stringed strums, and a bodily sense of motion and movement. The tones all sound right but not quite, as indeed they are not to Western ears, given that Partch divided the octave we normally hear in 8 tones into many more smaller divisions, generally on instruments of his own design and making.

I have not heard Partch’s music in many years and likely would not have for many more, but I came across him today from what seemed to be a most unlikely source. I have been listening to Beck’s latest album, Modern Guilt, over and over for months now.

I love the drums and the slightly psychedelic guitar and the overall flow of the CD. I decided to look at the Beck website, and there in the news, I ran into . . . Harry Partch.

Beck has an excerpt of a 1968 TV documentary on Partch and his instruments, and he has his  new song, “Harry Partch” (bottom of the page), described as a “tribute to California bred composer Harry Partch’s concept of ‘Corporeality’—the integration of the body with all art forms.” In Partchian fashion, it uses a 43 tone scale, and it’s interesting.

But not nearly as interesting, fascinating, and breathtaking as the posted recordings from Partch himself, clips from one of his last compositions, Delusion of the Fury. You have heard nothing like it, and you should.


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