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Harry Partch's Instruments
Harry Partch, photographed by Danlee Mitchell
Harry Partch playing his instrument, Kithara II (Photo: Danlee Mitchell)

 



About the Instruments
By 1969, the year he recorded "Delusion of the Fury," Harry Partch had designed 27 new instruments, all to be played on stage at the same time in a spatial ritual theater. These instruments were made to be beautiful in sound, vision, and "magical purpose." They were tuned according to the natural overtone series, "Just Intonation" Some, like the Chromelodeon, had as many as 43 tones in a single "octave." He made particular instruments for specific needs in his compositions, not the other way around. But, more than this, he designed the instruments to be "corporeal." To Partch, corporeal meant to involve the whole body, the whole person in the art.

Play the Virtual Harry Partch Instruments
Below you can play the Partch instruments, listen to Partch explain each instrument, and hear musical examples.

Play options require the Macromedia Flash Player.
Listen options require the RealAudio player. (See How to Listen.)



Percussion - Marimba type

Bass Marimba Bass Marimba (1949)
Interactive Play instrument (635k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Diamond Marimba Diamond Marimba (1946)
Interactive Play instrument (208k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Marimba Eroica Marimba Eroica (1951)
Interactive Play instrument (235k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Mazda Marimba Mazda Marimba (1964)
Interactive Play instrument (91k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Quadrangularus Reversum Quadrangularus Reversum (1965)
Interactive Play instrument (487k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Percussion - Bamboo type

Eucal Blossom Eucal Blossom (1964)
Interactive Play instrument (78k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Percussion - Metal, glass, bells

Gourd Tree with Cone Gongs Gourd Tree with Cone Gongs (1964)
Interactive Play instrument (272k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Cloud Chamber Bowls Cloud Chamber Bowls (1950)
Interactive Play instrument (394k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Spoils of War Spoils of War (1950)
Interactive Play instrument (365k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains

Zymo-Xyl Zymo-Xyl (1963)
Interactive Play instrument (218k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Strings - Adapted

Adapted Viola Adapted Viola (1928)
Audio Music clip1
Audio Music clip2
Audio Partch explains
Adapted Guitar Adapted Guitar (1934)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Strings - Kitharas

Kithara I Kithara I (1938, 1972)
Interactive Play instrument (204k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Kithara I Kithara II (1954)
Interactive Play instrument (238k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Surrogate Kithara Surrogate Kithara (1953)
Interactive Play instrument (396k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Strings - Harmonic Canons

Harmonic Canon I Harmonic Canon I (1945)
Interactive Play instrument (362k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Harmonic Canon II Harmonic Canon II (1953)
Interactive Play instrument (603k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Harmonic Canon III Harmonic Canon III (1965)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Strings - Borrowed ideas, new uses

Koto Koto, a gift from Lou Harrison (1966)
Interactive Play instrument (160k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Crychord Crychord (1959)
Interactive Play instrument (210k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Other - Voice and hand instruments

Small hand instruments Small hand instruments (1967)
Interactive Play instrument (247k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains


Other - Reed organs and pipes

The Ptolemy The Ptolemy (1933)
Chromelodeon I Chromelodeon I (1941)
Interactive Play instrument (319k)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains
Chromelodeon II

Chromelodeon II (1950)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains

Chromelodeon I and II
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains

Bloboy Bloboy (1958)
Audio Music clip
Audio Partch explains



Photos and audio archives courtesy of Danlee Mitchell and The Harry Partch Foundation. Additional sounds recorded at the Harry Partch Institute, under the direction of Dean Drummond. "The Bewitched" recording and motion picture frames from Music Studio provided by Innova Recordings of The American Composers Forum.