Acousmata logo



Harry Partch: “A Son in Search of His Father’s Face”

From the album Delusion of the Fury: A Ritual of Dream and Delusion (1966)

American composer and inventor Harry Partch (1901-1974) is among the most fascinating musical experimenters of the 20th century.  Partch devised a unique scale based on the division of the octave into 43 steps, instead of the customary 12.  He also created an array of new instruments on which to play his music, favoring shimmering percussion and string timbres that sometimes evoke the sound-world of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra.

Partch’s music exemplifies the dilemma of radical innovation in the arts: the more particular and distinct your work, the less accesible it becomes— not only aesthetically, but also, in this case, in a technological sense.  Because his music must be performed on his extremely rare instruments, performances and recordings of Partch’s music are quite infrequent.  Perhaps Partch discovered one of the few ways of maintaining an auratic scarcity in the age of musical omnipresence.

This piece comes from Partch’s last major work, the staggering Delusion of the Fury, composed in 1966.

Partch with some of his instruments

Played 699 time(s).

March 04, 2009, 3:15pm

Comments (View)
blog comments powered by Disqus