Harry Partch, leader of the Geo-Fauvist (wild-earth) composers, and 20th Century pioneer in working systematically with microtonal scales, also built custom-made instruments in these tunings on which to play his compositions. Watch the documentary The Outsider, The Story of Harry Partch.
Tag: Lou Harrison
Lou Harrison: A World of Music is an intimate portrait of an eclectic composer who traded a fast-paced New York career for a remote cabin in the woods. Harrison, a polymath, iconoclast, writer and activist, embraced artistic playfulness over the business of composing. Experimenting freely with western, eastern and custom made instruments, Harrison forged a new course for 20th century music.
John Adams’ “The Dharma at Big Sur,” composed for the opening of LA’s Disney Hall, references Jack Kerouac’s evocation of the first of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths in microtones, celebrating the freedom of the California coast at Big Sur.
Composer, dishwasher, hobo, fruit picker, sailor, microtonal theorist, instrument builder, writer, visual artist, philosopher, musicologist, iconoclast teacher Harry Partch was one of the first 20th Century composers to work with microtonal scales, writing much of his music for custom-made instruments that he built himself, tuned in 11-limit (43-tone) just intonation.
Partch broke with European tradition and forged a new music based on primal integration of sound and speech, using self-designed instruments tuned with natural acoustic resonance or just intonation. The result was a beautiful sound and vision with “magical purpose.”