one faint deluded smile

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


The Glorious Bass Marimba

Of all the half-psychotic weirdos in 20th Century music, Harry Partch may be the most memorable. I wont even try to describe his life or the scope of his music or the singularity of his spirit or the fantastic instruments he designed and built. Instead you can spend 2 or 3 hours at Corporeal Meadows where all things Harry may be found.

I've always found it difficult to really lose myself in his music. Mainly it's the operatic slant on the vocals and text that turns me off. But then I also find the percussiveness of a lot of instruments to be slightly off-putting. Or maybe it's the number of notes in the scale he uses? Realisticaly, these are intrisic parts of his entire output so I shouldn't bother trying to enjoy his stuff at all, should I?

He did have some fabulous, funny word-play, though:

mp3: Mumbo Jumbo...

The way his voice sticks with intellectual anger over "itsy bitsy teeny weeny" is a simple joy.

On the other hand, many of his pieces have this modern composition singy-talky-shouty stuff in it:

mp3: We Really Love Each Other

Which is quite enjoyable in discreet bits but which tires me out over the long term.

The only other mock-operatic release I own is Escalator Over The Hill - the semi-famous 'chronotransduction' by Carla Bley and Paul Haines.

mp3: Escalator Over the Hill

This is more obviously "arranged" (although it most definitely isn't) but it misses out on the wild spirit that Partch managed to add to his music.

And don't ask me what that "c" word means because it still riles me up something fierce.


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