Composer Harry Partch didn’t write pieces to work with the standard set of 12-tone scale instruments popular in Western music. Instead, he composed with as many as 43 microtones to the octave, then built instruments capable of playing the compositions.
National Public Radio’s “Music Mavericks” has always done a great job chronicling the work of off-beat genius musicians, but their Partch site is a joy to behold. They’ve created a virtual museum of Partch’s instruments, where you can not only hear the instrument played and listen to Partch talk about instruments with names like “Gourd Tree and Cone Gongs” and the “Zymo-Xyl” and “Spoils of War” and “Quadrangularus Reversum,” but also, through ingenious use of photographs and Flash, play the instruments yourself.
One Reply to “Virtual Partch”
Hmmm….I had a great friend when I first moved to Boston, whom I’ve since lost the contact info for, who was also a microtonal composer. Some of his microtonal work appears on the album he and his partner produced themselves, the self-titled “The Moors”. They were kinda big around here (Boston) for a little while, predominantly among the Dead Can Dance krew, but maybe you heard them or even caught them anyway.
Scott (Dakota) made his own instruments too, come to think of it. I think he had a one-string guitar.