Instruments by Harry Partch


“The American composer Harry Partch (1901-1974) composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, derived from the natural Harmonic series; these scales allowed for more tones of smaller intervals than in the standard Western tuning, which uses twelve equal intervals. One of Partch’s scales has 43 tones to the octave. To play this music, he built many unique instruments, with names such as the Chromelodeon, the Quadrangularis Reversum, and the Zymo-Xyl. Partch called himself ‘a philosophic music-man seduced into carpentry’. The path towards Partch’s use of many unique instruments was a gradual one. Partch began in the 1920s using traditional instruments, and wrote a string quartet in just intonation (now lost). He had his first specialized instrument built for him in 1930—the Adapted Viola, a viola with a cello’s neck fitted on it. He re-tuned the reeds of several reed organs and labeled the keys with a color code. The first was called the Ptolemy, in tribute to the ancient music theorist Claudius Ptolemaeus, whose musical scales included ratios of the 11-limit, as Partch’s did. The others were called Chromelodeons, a portmanteau of chrome (meaning ‘color’) and melodeon.  Most of Partch’s works used the instruments he created exclusively. Some works made use of unaltered standard instruments such as oboe, clarinet, or cello, and Revelation in the Courtyard Park (1960) used an unaltered small wind band. … Those who have duplicated partial sets of Partch instruments include John Schneider, whose West Coast ensemble includes replicas of the Kithara, Surrogate Kithara, Cloud-Chamber Bowls, Adapted Guitars, Adapted Viola, Diamond Marimba, Bass Marimba, Chromelodeon, and two Harmonic Canons. …”
W – Instruments by Harry Partch, W – Harry Partch
NY Times: Reviving a Harry Partch Work With Hubcaps and Wine Bottles
Harry Partch, Discogs
YouTube: Harry Partch Documentary-The Outsider 59:16
YouTube: The World Of Harry Partch (1969) FULL ALBUM 42:25, And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma 35:25, Delusion of the Fury (Original Film 1969 1:11:59)


Part of the keyboard of the Chromelodeon

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