Harry Partch

Genres: Classical Jazz
Decades Active: 2000s

Biography

24 June 1901, Oakland, California, USA, d. 3 September 1974, San Diego, California, USA. This composer’s work was called ‘the most original and powerful contribution to dramatic music on this continent’. He began composing when he was 14, and 15 years later burnt all that he had written, rejecting the conventional, ‘restricting’, 12-note scale, for his 43 tones to the octave scale. He was a hobo for several years during the Depression, and from 1930-47 played on just one instrument, his ‘adapted viola’, which he used to accompany himself singing Biblical passages, and the hitch-hikers inscriptions he included in his hobo epic The Wayward (1943). These comprised Barstow, The Letter, San Francisco and US Highball, made up from names of railroad towns, newsboy cries and other effects, which he recited and sung, accompanied by guitar riffs. Later, he designed and built around 30 of his own instruments, such as the Zymo-Xyl, the Gourd...

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