Label: New World Records
Harry Partch’s compositions of the 1940s have remained until recently an unwritten chapter in the history of American music. And yet it was these very pieces—the collection of four works he would later collectively entitle The Wayward—that brought him to the attention of the New York musical world. His concert of these pieces for the League of Composers established for him a small but permanent reputation as a musical maverick who had wandered off well-worn tracks and had developed a sort of lateral extension of his art, independently of any of the main circles of American music. The musical starting point of the compositions of The Wayward is the inflections and rhythms of everyday American speech. From the beginnings of his mature output in 1930 Partch had been devoted to what he called “the intrinsic music of spoken words,” and these four works capture something of the spontaneous musicality of the conversations of the hoboes he befriended during the Depression. In their original form these pieces used only the small collection of instruments Partch had built or customized by 1943: Adapted Viola, Adapted Guitar, Chromelodeon, and Kithara. The versions recorded here are all later reworkings, sometimes with only small changes, and sometimes involving a substantial amount of recomposition. The final work on this disc dates from twenty years later than the compositions of The Wayward, and represents one of the high points of Partch’s later instrumental idiom. And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma was composed in Petaluma, California, in March–April 1964, and revised at various times and places until the completion of the final copy of the score in San Diego in October 1966.