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Harry Partch: A Biography Hardcover – June 16, 1998
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From Library Journal
Harry Partch (1901-74) was one of this country's most iconoclastic, visionary, and courageous composers, and it is a measure of his controversial status in the world of American arts and letters that it has taken nearly a quarter-century for a detailed, well-researched biography to be written. Gilmore, a British lecturer in music, has done an outstanding job in piecing together the scanty documentary evidence of Partch's life and conducted numerous interviews with friends and associates, resulting in a superbly written, captivating work. Partch's copious travels, hand-to-mouth existence during the Depression, tumultuous formal music education, and relentless pursuit of an alternative to traditional European art music are carefully and lovingly chronicled. Gilmore writes well for the lay reader; even the section on Partch's idiosyncratic approach to intonation is eminently readable. One might wish for a more generous collection of photographs, since Partch's battery of homemade instruments are stunning visual?as well as acoustic?creations. All in all, though, this is an outstanding achievement. Highly recommended for all collections.?Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Harry Partch (1901^-74) believed in natural order, which led him to formulate musical scales, based on just intonation, whose "octaves" contained 43 intervals. He captured real speech patterns in his vocal compositions; his Oedipus, based on the poetry of Yeats, greatly rewritten, is an example of this. To realize his music, he built stringed instruments, keyboards that operated reeds, and tuned percussion; the shipping of his often immense instruments hindered public performances. Dance and staged movement were an integral part of most of his later music. Employed at odd jobs or living off grants, friends, and sponsors, Partch was wary of academic institutions. Bitter Music, recalling his days as a hobo, and Genesis of a Music, describing his musical theories, are his major writings. Few recordings gained commercial release in his lifetime, and his music remains recondite today. Gilmore's loving biography of an isolated, often bitter man depicts him as being ahead of other contemporary composers while on a track parallel to theirs and as being unique in his belief in predetermined, rhythmic, tone-centered music. Alan Hirsch
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Top customer reviews
Being a biography only, it fills you in with what drove Harry to do what he did and all the stumbling blocks encountered along the way (things I have always wondered about).
If you are interested in Harry's musical intsruments, corporeal philosophy, or the tuning set-up he put together, I would suggest getting the book he wrote "Genesis of a Music", sold here at Amazon.
In purchasing Bob's book, you will encounter a path in which a true creative mind was once lead down, unmutilated.....Geordan Mitchell