A New Harry Partch Collection from New World Records

Harry Partch (c. 1969), from the cover of The ...

Source: The Hum Blog

Within the history of American avant-garde music, few figures are as important as Harry Partch – yet while Ives and Cage are household names, Partch’s music (which is an important conceptual bridge between them) largely remains hidden in the shadows. Whether I like it or not, there are tangible reasons for this. It goes without saying that avant-garde music places extreme demands on its listeners, but if we examine its prominent figures and movements with scrutiny, it becomes apparent that in most cases those demands were constrained. The leaps from Mahler to Schoenberg, from Schoenberg to Serialism, and from Serialism to Musique Concrete and John Cage are relatively short – each taking the ground of its predecessor and advancing it. Not only does Partch stand outside the legacies and inheritance of Western avant-garde traditions, but his demands on listeners were profound.