HARRY PARTCH The World Of Harry Partch (1969) + The Bewitched (1955/1973)

The World Of Harry Partch (1969)
The Bewitched (1955/1973)
Music Without Limits On Instruments Without Peer

Harry Partch was an original in a world of imitation. During the Great Depression, Partch went from being just one of millions of hobos stranded by economics, to become one of the world’s most uniquely rebellious composers. He turned his back on traditional Western music, instead, inventing his own musical language (technically speaking, using microtonal scales with 11-limit tonality… don’t ask). To achieve this audio reinvention, Partch needed to create and build his own instruments (the Quadrangularis Reversum, Cloud Chamber Bowls & Boo II, among them), for the sole purpose of performing sounds that had yet to be conceived. Most of his contraptions were percussion oriented – whack marimbas, strange vibes, gongs, gourdes and chimes, all tuned to complicated scales you’d need a degree to explain. The Bewitched, recorded in 1955 by the University of Illinois Musical Ensemble, is subtitled ‘A Dance Satire’ – a sonically perverted exercise for voice and instruments. But it was 1969’s The World Of Harry Partch when stoners (and the rest of the world) first picked up on HP’s twisted visions. This is an excellent vinyl rip courtesy of The Avant Garde Project. It’s not for all tastes, however, so sample the madness below. Hard core Ruth Underwood fans may appreciate. Inexplicably, The World Of Harry Partch is still vinyl only (HERE), but The Bewitched is on CD (HERE) at Amazon.

Daphne Of The Dunes (17:37)
Barstow 8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions From A Highway Railing At Barstow, CA (9:24)
Castor & Pollux A Dance For The Twin Rhythms From Plectra & Perc.

Prologue: The Lost Musicians Mix Magic (18:09)
Scene 1: Three Undergrads Become Transfigured in a Hong Kong Music Hall (5:29)
Scene 2: Exercises in Harmony & Counterpoint In A Court of Ancient Ritual (5:07)
Scene 3: The Romancing of a Pathological Liar Comes to an Inspired End (5:32)
Scene 4: A Soul Tormented by Music Finds A Humanizing Alchemy (5:40)
Scene 5: Visions Fill the Eyes of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower (4:19)
Scene 6: Euphoria Descends a Sausalito Stairway
Scene 7: Two Detectives on the Trail of a Tricky Culprit Turn in Their Badges (5:30)
Scene 8: A Court in Its Own Contempt Rises to a Motherly Apotheosis (5:27)
Scene 9: Lost Political Soul Finds Himself Among the Voteless of Paradise
Scene 10: The Cognoscenti Are Plunged into a Demonic Descent at Cocktails (9:17)


  • Anonymous
    December 3, 2009 - 12:20 | Permalink

    Sounds excellent – thanks!

  • Capt. Willard
    December 3, 2009 - 08:07 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Johnny Pierre
    December 3, 2009 - 17:41 | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this– it really underscores how Harry Partch's music has been a subtle influence on all sorts of popular artists. I can't imagine Tom Waits being able to create something like Swordfishtombones without Partch blazing those trails first.

  • Record Fiend
    December 3, 2009 - 16:13 | Permalink


    Real nice posts here. I have "The World," but have been looking for "The Bewitched" for quite some time. And to think that it was recorded by a musical ensemble from my alma mater in frickin' 1955! The mind boggles. Anyway, looking forward to listening to this. Thanks.


  • winkingtiger
    December 4, 2009 - 02:27 | Permalink

    Have always loved Harry Partch, thanks for posting these! If you can ever lay your hands on 'The Petals Fell In Petaluma', it is excellent as well… :D

  • Santa Clause
    December 7, 2009 - 11:44 | Permalink

    Ho Ho Ho! Terrific music you have here Willard!

    God bless you & keep you the whole year thru!

    All the best,
    (North Pole Radio)

  • Barry
    December 7, 2009 - 20:28 | Permalink

    Holy shit, The World of Harry Partch is a great record. Huzzah! I haven't heard it since 1982.

  • Pippo
    January 3, 2010 - 01:50 | Permalink

    Thank you, very interesting share.

  • Capt. Willard
    January 3, 2010 - 03:04 | Permalink

    Thanks for all the comments.

  • Gummo
    November 29, 2011 - 10:15 | Permalink

    I’ve heard of Harry Partch for many years, but this is my first time hearing him.

    As a Deadhead of many years, it doesn’t sound strange to me at all; actually, I can see now where Micky Hart got about 95% of his musical ideas.

    Thanks, Willard!

    • Willard
      November 29, 2011 - 10:57 | Permalink

      Hi Gummo. Now go back to the 50s and see how really strange it all sounds.

  • Gummo
    November 29, 2011 - 11:02 | Permalink

    Willard, LOL. I can’t imagine.

  • Rick
    November 29, 2011 - 14:06 | Permalink

    I first heard about Harry Partch on Tom Russell’s country/blues narrative album Hotwalker, which I highly recommend. It’s a fascinating life story with many amusing and fascinating yarns, and some great traditional music in many different styles.

  • November 30, 2011 - 11:30 | Permalink

    A real groove, man. Thanx…………

  • November 30, 2011 - 23:13 | Permalink

    A weird fact: Don (DJ) Bonebrake, the drummer for X was huge Partch fan, and had nothing but praise for him when I met him in 1981. He further claimed that he had played in an ensemble that performed a series of Harry’s music when he was in college. I asked him how in the HELL someone who loved Harry Partch could end up playing in X (who I dearly love by the way, but still…) and he told me that he was drawn to the “subliminal” aspects of X’s music, and that he found he could easily draw distinctions between the separate entities. I did not follow up on that, and we proceeded to get pleasantly stoned and talk about avant-garde eastern european jazz. It also turns out he was Hawkwind fan. Go figure.

    • Willard
      December 1, 2011 - 11:05 | Permalink

      Go figure, indeed.

  • jivethumb
    December 2, 2011 - 23:49 | Permalink

    thank you willard! you rule! i’ve been really digging many discoveries made on this site! thanks
    this harry partch takes the cake ..so cool

  • buzz baby jesus
    December 3, 2011 - 09:16 | Permalink

    I have a soft spot for this kind of music. A Berklee graduate friend gave me this tip: Look through the records at library book sales for modern and avant garde composers. They’re like new because they’ve never been played.
    As always thanks for the continual surprises.

  • Leave a Reply