Harry Partch Music Scores, 1922 - 1972 (MSS 0629)


Extent: 5 Linear feet (5 flat boxes)

The Harry Partch Music Scores consists of facsimiles of musical and theatrical compositions by Harry Partch, written between 1922 and 1972. Compositions include seminal works such as Delusions of the Fury, U.S. Highball, and Wayward.

Harry Partch was born in Oakland, CA on June 24, 1901; both his parents had been Presbyterian missionaries in China who endured the Boxer Rebellion. By the age of 20, he had moved through parts of the Midwest and East Coast, then back through Northern and Southern California before settling in San Diego in 1964. He began his early musical training playing clarinet, harmonium, viola, piano, and guitar and composing music using a tempered chromatic scale normal in Western music. He became frustrated with the musical tuning of Western music and subsequently destroyed all of his early works.

Interested in dramatic speech, Partch began to build his own instruments to reflect the musicality of speech and substantiate the intoning voice. His first instrument built in 1930 was the "Monophone," later known as the "adapted viola." Soon after, he was awarded a grant which allowed him to study the history of tuning systems in London and to try to gain permission to write an opera based on W.B. Yeats's translation of Sophocles' Oedipus the King. However, his grant money was depleted by the 1930s and he returned to the United States and to travel around on trains, as a hobo. He recorded his experiences in a journal named Bitter Music (late 1930s) and subsequently composed Barstow (1941), a piece originally recorded for voice and guitar; the latter was transcribed several times throughout his life as his instrument collection grew. Additionally, he composed U.S. Highball (1943), a musical memoir reflecting his train riding memories.

After receiving a Guggenheim Foundation grant in 1943, he returned to completing Oedipus, recording from his own translation. In 1949, he published Genesis of a Music, an account of his own music with discussions of music theory and instrument design, explaining his concept of the fusion of all art forms with the body as its central focus. He later wrote the 'dance satire' The Bewitched, Revelation in the Courthouse Park, and Delusion of the Fury, the latter recorded by Columbia Records in 1969. In the fall of the same year, Partch taught a course at UCSD.

Harry Partch is known for his experimental and conceptual compositions involving the 43-tone scale and his customization and design of musical instruments using raw materials such as retuned reed organs, glass bowls, bamboo stalks, liquor bottles, and car light bulbs.

He died on September 3, 1974 in San Diego. The majority of his instruments and papers are housed at the Alexander Kasser Theatre and Sprague Library of Montclair State University in New Jersey.

The Harry Partch Music Scores consists of bound facsimiles of musical and theatrical compositions by experimental composer and instrument-builder Harry Partch, written between 1922 and 1972. Compositions include seminal works such as Delusions of the Fury, Oedipus the King, U.S. Highball, and Wayward. The scores are arranged alphabetically.

Container List


And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 1
Twenty-three one minute duets and trios which later become ten quartets and quintets and one septet. Two copies, 1964 - 1966
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 2
Explanation of substitute verse 31 (p.55), 1966
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 3
Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California - As part of The Wayward, 1956
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 4
Voice parts. Originally adapted guitar and voice, 1941; rewritten for two voices, surrogate kithara, chromelodeon, diamond marimba and boo in 1955
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 5
A Ballet Satire - In ten scenes. Version 1, 1955
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 6
A Dance Satire - In ten scenes. Version 2, 1955
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 7
Bless This Home. Poem by Vincenzo Prockelo, written for Gary and Susie Everett, 1961
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 8
Daphne of the Dunes. A re-copying of the score composed for the Windsong, 1958
Oversize: FB-459 Folder: 9
Dark Brother. Text from Thomas Wolfe's essay God's Lonely Man, 1942 - 1943
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 1
Delusion of the Fury - A Ritual of Dream and Delusion. Two acts, 1966
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 2
Dreamer that Remains - A Study in Loving. Original music commissioned by Betty Freeman to constitute a part of the film "Harry Partch - A Study in Loving", 1972
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 3
Eleven Intrusions. Numbers 1 and 2 are "Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales", 1949 - 1950
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 4
Eleven Poems by Li Po. Set to Music by Harry Partch. Text from The Works of Li Po, the Chinese poet, 1922
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 5
Even Wild Horses - Dance Music for an Absent Drama. Text from Arthur Rimband's Seasons in Hell, 1952
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 6
Letter - A Depression Message from a Hobo Friend, first written in 1943. A special rewriting for the Freeman-Pouliot film
Oversize: FB-460 Folder: 7
Lord is My Shepherd. Spoken expression by Cantor Reuben Rinder of San Francisco, 1931
Oversize: FB-461 Folder: 1
Oedipus - Dance-Drama. The text is an abbreviated version of Sophocles' Oedipus the King, 1951 - 1954
Oversize: FB-461 Folder: 2
Oedipus the King. First version, 1950 - 1967
Oversize: FB-461 Folder: 3
Plectra and Percussion Dances - An Evening of Dance Theater. 1. Castor and Pollux - A Dance for the Twin Rhythms of Gemini. 2. Ring Around the Moon - A Dance Fantasm for Here and Now. 3. Even Wild Horses - A Dance for an Absent Drama, 1949 - 1952
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 1
Revelation in the Courthouse Park - After the Bacchae of Euripides. A "double-tale" which alternates between The Bacchae and a modern parallel, 1960
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 2
Ring Around the Moon - A Dance Fantasm for Here and Now, 1949 - 1950
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 3
Rotate the Body in All Its Planes - Ballet for gymnasts. Music for an exhibition by Charles Pond's gymnasts at the University of Illinois, 1961
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 4
Six Poems by Li Po. Set to music by Harry Partch. Texts from The Works of Li Po, the Chinese poet, 1922
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 5
Sophocles' King Oedipus - Music, Dance, Drama - Based on the version by W.B. Yeats. For a Intoners - Actors, other actors, singing voices, dancers, and two musicians, 1950 - 1967
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 6
Summer 1955 - A collection of small compositions written or rewritten in summer, 1955
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 7
Two Settings From Joyce's Finnegan's Wake - "Isobel" and "Annah the Allmaziful." For soprano, kithara, and two flutes, 1944
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 8
Two Studies on Acient Greek Scales. For harmonic canon, bass marimba added, 1946
Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World
Oversize: FB-462 Folder: 9
A Minor Adventure in Rhythm - First version, 1955
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 1
Second version, 1955
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 2
U.S. Highball - Voice parts, 1943. Originally for voice, adapted guitar, kithara, chromelodeon; rewritten in 1955
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 3
Water! Water! - An intermission with prologues and epilogues. Includes left and right chorus, 1961
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 4
Wayward. A collection of musical compositions based on the spoken and written words of hobos and other characters, 1941-1955. The result of my wanderings in the Western part of the United States from 1935 to 1941
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 5
Windsong. For film by Madeline Tourtelot, 1955. Rewritten as Daphne of the Dunes, 1967
Oversize: FB-463 Folder: 6
Yankee Doodle Fantasy. On the Words of an Early American Tune, 1944