John Schneider


microtonal guitar, microtonal music, Harry Partch


Known as an "American Maverick," Harry Partch (1901–1974) was surely one of the United States's most colorful composers. His dissatisfaction with the scales and instruments of Western music inspired him to design and build an orchestra of over two dozen handcrafted "microtonal" instruments that were tuned to his notorious "monophonic" scale of forty-three tones per octave. Between 1934 and 1952, Partch created four different adapted guitars, using them in fifteen compositions ranging from solo song cycles (Barstow, December 1942, U.S. Highball, Three Intrusions) to chamber music, dances, and four of his five major stage works. This overview discusses the instruments’ stringing, fretting, tunings, notation, and repertoire.



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