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Friday, February 6, 2015

The World Of Harry Partch

Barstow
The World Of Harry Partch
Conducted by Danlee Mitchell under the supervision of the composer
Columbia Masterworks MS 7207
1969

From the inside gatefold cover (Partch's artistic statement): The work that I have been doing these many years parallels much in the attitudes and actions of primitive man. He found sound-magic in the common materials around him. He then proceeded to make the vehicle, the instrument, as visually beautiful as he could. Finally, he involved the sound-magic, and the visual beauty in his everyday words and experiences, his ritual and drama, in order to lend greater meaning to his life. This is my trinity: sound-magic, visual beauty, experience-ritual.

Reading Partch's statement might help the listener understand his approach. My first impression was that I was listening to a single stream of sound, that featured few "intersecting devices" and that stream may have have been created by someone (with a rhythm sense) who had just discovered a room full of instruments and started to bang away for the fun of it. Much of the sound created by Partch also reminds me of the structure I hear in Gamelan (music from Java and Bali, Indonesia).

Barstow (side 2) is different in that the vocal overlays help to create a more dense sound experience. The vocals also create "Zappa-like" moments in the work. At least that is what I hear. I don't know what Partch's conceptual influences are. Partch uses his made-up term "Hobo Concerto" to label the narrative.

If you want more of a break down, I suggest finding a copy because the gatefold is bursting with copy that explains each track in depth.

From Billboard - May 3, 1969: Current interest in Harry Partch should be parlayed into interest for this disk from one of the most individual of today's composers. The original instruments as as fascinating as their use here. "Daphne of the Dunes" and "Castor and Pollux' are engrossing instrumental pieces, which benefit from the originally of sound as well as construction. The narratives in "Barstow" enhance that piece.

Side 1

Daphine Of The Dunes

Harry Partch, Frank Berberich, Gary Coleman, Dean Drummond, Richard Lapore, John McAllister, Robert McCormick, Todd Miller, Emil Richards, Michael Ranta, Linda Schell

Adapted Viola, Kithara II, Surrogate Kithara, Harmonic Canons II and III, Chromelodeon I, Cloud-Chamber Bowls, Spoils of War, Gourd Tree, Diamond Marimba, Boo (Bamboo Marimba), Bass Marimba, Pre-recorded Tape

Side 2

Barstow

Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing At Barstow, California
Harry Partch and John Stannard, Voices; John McAlister, Danlee Mitchell, Michael Ranta, Linda Schell.

Surrogate Kithara, Chromelodeon I, Diamond Marimba, Boo (Bamboo Marimba)

Castor & Pollux
A Dance from the Twin Ryhythms of Gemini from Piectra & Percussion Dances
Gary Coleman, Dean Drummond, John McAllister, Danlee Mitchell, Emil Richards, Michael Ranta, Linda Schell.

Leda and the Swan (Kithrar II, Surrogate Kithara, and Cloud-Chamber Bowls)
Conception (Harmonic Canon II and High Bass Marimba)
Incubation (Diamond Marimba and Low Bass Marimba)
Chorus of Delivery from the Egg (All the foregoing instruments)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! The beginning of your track Barstow was used in Dr Demento's Funny Five countdown for Number One. Neat!

    ReplyDelete

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