Uk based Melbourne composer and guitarist Chris Ranier has launched a crowdfunding campaign as a way to fund the vinyl pressing of his recordings of Harry Partch’s works for voice and Adapted Guitar 1, as well as selected folk songs either notated or mentioned in his Depression-era journal Bitter Music.
If you don’t know Partch he was an American composer (1901 – 1974), who is widely considered to be one of the most important microtonal composers of the 20th century, developing a new musical theory. Composing music within this theoretical framework, he had to design and build the instruments to play his work. This was partly because he was trying to discover new sounds, but also because conventional instruments for the most part simply could not play all the pitches he needed. He was also quite eccentric character who even at one stage destroyed all of his work, and spent 9 years as a hobo during the great depression. He kept a journal during this period that was later published as Bitter Music. The journal is a synthesis of three art forms: text, music and drawings intended to be read near a piano, so the notated fragments of speech may be intoned more or less as they were inflected at the time.
Ranier, who has spent over a decade focused on extending the sonic possibilities of the lap steel guitar recently released Man and the Echo (you can read the review here), has long been an advocate of Partch’s music and approach and as early as 2002 he, “explored Partch’s theories and various instruments, and designed and built a 66-key metallophone that drew from, but also expanded upon some of Partch’s theoretical models and instrument designs.”
If you want to pledge to his campaign or find out more you can click here.