Though hardly recognized by the musical
establishment in his own
lifetime, Harry Partch literally built
the foundation upon which contemporary just intonation
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
This last factor unlocked
new dimensions of melody and harmony, through extended chords and
microtonal melodic movement.
- - -
(excerpted from THE
NATURAL HARMONIC SERIES AS A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO JUST INTONATION,
by Denny Genovese)
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
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.