Teoría Incertidumbre #7

Teoría Incertidumbre #7

Harry Partch, Diamond Marimba and The Residents

Diamond Marimba (from The World of Harry Partch (1969) record)


-Harry Partch – Elven Intrusions (1946-1950) track:
11.- Cloud Chamber music.

-Harry Partch – Plectra and Percussion Dances (1952).

-Harry Partch – Ulysses at the Edge (1955).

-The Residents – Mole Show (1983) tracks:
– The New Machine.
– The Ultimate desaster.
– The Voices in the air.
– Another land.
– God of Darkness.

Diamond Marimba: is a marimba tuned in the so-called “diamond tonality”. The way in which the pieces of the marimba are placed are the same as the scheme that I designed with the Diamond tuning.

Diamond tonality:

In musical theory and tuning, a diamond tonality is a two-dimensional diagram of proportions in which a dimension is the Otonality and the Utonality, generating a diamond shape like a diamond, the diagram will be made following the odd numbers in the denominator, there will be of limit 5, 7, 11 and 15 as more usual, we will call this limit, limit n. This diamond can be considered as a set of pitch classes, where a pitch class is a kind of equivalence of tones in octave equivalence. It is often considered that the diamond hue comprises the set of consonances of the n limit. Although originally invented by Max Friedrich Meyer, diamond tonality is now more closely associated with Harry Partch (“Many music theorists believe that the hue of diamond that Partch made has been a great contribution to the microtonal theory”).

About the work Elven Intrusions, consists of 11 parts that have a duration between less than one minute and four minutes. Some were composed to highlight the concept of tone in certain instruments that he adapted as the diamond marimba.
The piece that appears in the program, the last one to be composed, track number 11, Cloud Chamber Music, was composed for voice and original instruments such as his adapted viola, his adapted guitar III, his kithara, his diamond marimba, his ” cloud chamber bowls “, and its bass marimba, among others. He used the composition of “Song of the Boys” of a tribe of New Mexico called Isleta of reference.

Some ideas of Harry Partch:

“Music is not just a scale, it is not just chords and phrases of eight measures, it is not a determined rhythm, it does not even have to be a melody, we have to learn to hear and therefore we must not close ourselves, nothing prevents us from continuing with the tradition while looking for new ways. ”

“I have seen through most of my life as the solitary and contemplative investigation of music and materials is discouraged by the dogma that the West is the center of all knowledge and experience. The doors that are closed because of education are the saddest doors that humanity has never crossed. ”

-Partch described his music as corporeal, looking for the execution of the instruments to involve the whole body in the creation of art. At the same time he opposed what he called abstract music, music in which the instrumental predominates, and which is subject to only a system of tonalities. Strongly influenced by the music and drama of Ancient Greece, and of two styles of Japanese drama, Partch composed long and large scale pieces, which were meant to be theatrically represented, with actors who danced, sang, talked and played instruments on the stage.


Band influenced by Harry Partch:

The Residents are a group of musicians from Louisiana who decided to maintain their anonymity by not disclosing their names and using masks for their live performances that usually consist of “theatrical” or performative staging, their style of music is based in the deconstruction of certain popular music and the conceptual music that usually revolves around the idea of some theory or plot. Pioneers in the use of CD-ROOM, they released their first album in 1974. They are active until today.

There is a mythologizing legend that the theory of Darkness and the theory of the phonetic organization of the seemingly nonexistent N. Senada was originally written by Harry Partch, two theories bases for The Residents, from Teoría Incertidumbre we take it more as an anecdote to connect points regarding the relationship between Partch and the band.

The Letter by Harry Partch (where the Diamond Marimba appears)


Genesis of a music de Harry Partch.

The images of the sound: a multy-sensory reading in twentyth century art- Written by Javier Ariza.