Tuesday, 26 August 2008


"On a trip to Europe in the early thirties, Partch aroused the interest of W.B. Yeats, who watched as the young American composer chanted Psalm 137, 'By the Rivers of Babylon,' while sawing on the Adapted Viola. Yeats was charmed, but the musical establishments of Europe and America ignored or mocked Partch's ideas. By the time he returned to America in 1935, the Great Depression was at its height, and prospects for a conventional careeer seemed poor.

Partch now made a momentous decision: instead of begging for assistance from patrons or the WPA bureaucracy, he dropped out of society entirely, and became a hobo. For several years he crisscrossed the country, riding trains, doing manual labour, sleeping in shelters or in the wild, contracting syphilis, working occasionally as a proofreader, and, all the while, rethinking every parameter of music."

- Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century p.481

Some Harry Partch links:

PLAY some of the instruments Partch created to escape the tyranny of the octave scale:


READ MORE about the Partch Instrument Collection at Montclair State University, NY:


DOWNLOAD flac files of The World of Harry Partch, ripped from the original vinyl:


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