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Instruments of Harry Partch

Tuned in Extended Just Intonation

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Harry Partch in Honolulu, with WHP advisor Peter Coraggio 1971

Though hardly recognized by  the  musical establishment  in his own lifetime, Harry Partch literally  built the  foundation  upon  which contemporary  just  intonation practitioners stand. 

In his book, GENESIS OF A MUSIC, he outlined the history  of intonation around the world, from ancient  times to the first half of the twentieth-century. 

In this work, he presented  the basic concepts and arguments essential  to  a useful understanding of just intonation. 

In the process,  he formulated  certain  terms and methods  of  procedure  that provide a practical means for actual work and development in this  field.

 Just as important, he made the  essential  leap from confinement to traditional scales and chords (including previous forms of just intonation) to an entirely new realm, made  possible by the introduction of prime numbers  greater than  5 into the ratios of intervals.

 This last  factor  unlocked new dimensions of melody and harmony, through extended chords and microtonal melodic movement.

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(excerpted from THE NATURAL HARMONIC SERIES AS A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO JUST INTONATION, by Denny Genovese)

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The Instruments

Perhaps Partch is most remembered as the inventor of a large orchestra of unique instruments, specially designed to play his 43 tone to the duple (octave) Just Intonation scale.

After Partch's death in 1974, his instruments were stewarded by Danlee Mitchell, at San Diego State University. 

Danlee taught many students to play them, and presented many performances with them throughout the world.

 

Dean Drummond (L) is the current heir of the Partch instruments, since around 1990. 

He is founder of the Partch Studies program at Monteclaire University in New Jersey.

Denny Genovese (R) is shown with him in a 2002 visit.

For much more about Harry Partch, his music and his instruments, visit the Corporeal Meadows website.

Denny Genovese playing the Partch Instruments at San Diego State University in 1978:

Model, made by a SDSU student

Bass Marimba

Boo

Marimba Eroica

Cloud Chamber Bowls

Chromelodien

 

 

 


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