His picture hangs over my workbench. (The only other image of a musician present in my studio is a plastic bust of Debussy that sits on the amplifier in the control room -to remind me "there is no theory, you have merely to listen".)
He is a forefather of everyone like me who took to building different
instruments in the pursuit of making different music, going to the
sources of the sounds rather than the disposition of them. The humility
implicit in this, emphasizing the objective bases of music rather than
the subjective ones, is something I think all musicians would be well
served to think about. His very real and tangible contribution to music
generally is more valuable to me than the largely escapist innovations
of Cage (which Partch considered "precious and vapid") and Stockhausen.
I have been greatly stimulated by his writings and the example he set
as america’s greatest (in my opinion) musical outsider, particularly
his invocation of the corporeal aspects of music as opposed to the
abstract. I can’t be
certain I would ever have built the instruments of Anarchestra without
the example of his accomplishment.
My favorite pieces of his are Exordium and Sanctus (both instrumental) from Delusion of the Fury, which is the best recording of his music I have heard. The flexibility of his sonorities and the depth of his sense of tonality (43 tones to the octave) open our ears to a wider universe of sonic possibilities.
If you aren’t familiar with his work (sadly, many are not), check out the Corporeal Website and also the American Mavericks website which has virtual versions of his instruments you can play.
NEWBAND is the custodian of his instruments and have been recording new versions of his work. During his lifetime, Partch struggled mightily against indifference, neglect, and extremely adverse circumstances to get his work rehearsed, performed, and recorded.
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