Harry Partch (1901-1974)

Ritual dramas from ancient Greek roots

 

Innova 405

 

DISC A

 

1          Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World (Orion Records version with Jack Logan, trumpet, 1971) 6'37"

 

2-8       Revelation in the Courthouse Park after The Bacchae of Euripides (Gate 5 version, 1961) 40’00”

 

9          Introduction to King Oedipus (KPFA-FM broadcast, Partch speaking, 1954)* 7'33"

 

10-?     King Oedipus (original version with W.B. Yeats’s translation of Sophocles, Mills College, 1952)* 81'30"

 

DISC B

 

1-?       King Oedipus (continued)

 

v          Johann Krieger: Menuet (Partch and Ben Johnston, 1950) (0'45")

 

w         Come Away, Death (solo voice - George Bishop, 1942)* (2'45")

 

x          Come Away, Death from December, 1942 (Vincent Bouchot -voice, Didier Aschour - Adapted Guitar, 1997)* (2'45")

 

y          By the Rivers of Babylon (137th Psalm) (Gate 5 version with Nina Cutler - voice, 1961) (3'00")

 

z          Introduction to The Bewitched (WNYC broadcast, Partch speaking, 1959)* 3'50"

 

DISC C

 

1-12     The Bewitched (Partch Ensemble, Kenneth Gaburo, director, Danlee Mitchell, musical director, WDR-Cologne, 1980)* 76'00"

 

* indicates first release

 

c. American Composers Forum, 1998

All Rights Reserved

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Series producer: Philip Blackburn

innova 405

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DISC A

 

1. Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World 6'37"

 

Revelation in the Courthouse Park after The Bacchae of Euripides

(As excerpted by Partch for Gate 5 Records, Issue F) 40’00”

2. Chorus One

3. Chorus Three, in part

4. From Scene One: Hymn to Dionysus: Holy Joy and Get Religion

5. From Scene Two: Hymn to Dionysus: What the Majority Believes

6. From Scene Two: Hymn to Dionysus: Glory to the Male Womb

7. End of Scene Three and all of Chorus Four

8. End of Scene Four and Coda

 

9. Introduction to King Oedipus 7'33"

 

King Oedipus 81'30"

10. Introduction

11. Opening Scene

12. First Chorus

13. Tiresias Scene

14. Second Chorus

 

DISC B

 

1. Creon Scene

2. Jocasta Scene

3. Incidental Music

4. Third Chorus

5. Messenger Scene

6. Fourth Chorus

7. Herdsman Scene
8. Oedipus Scene

9. Fifth Chorus

10. Instrumental Commentary

11. Antiphony

12. Exit Oedipus—Pantomime

13. Final Chorus and Coda

 

14. Johann Krieger: Menuet (from Partita in G) (0'45")

 

15. Come Away, Death (2'45") (solo version)

 

16. Come Away, Death (from December, 1942) (2'45")

 

17. By the Rivers of Babylon (137th Psalm) (3'00")

 

18. Introduction to The Bewitched 3'50"

 

DISC C

 

The Bewitched (A Ballet Satire) 76'00"

1. Prologue

2. Scene 1. Background for the Transfiguration of American Undergrads in a Hong Kong Music Hall

3. Scene 2. Background for the Permutation of Exercises in Harmony and Counterpoint

4. Scene 3. Background for the Inspired Romancing of a Pathological Liar

5. Scene 4. Background for the Alchemy of a Soul Tormented by Contemporary Music

6. Scene 5. Background for the Visions of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room

7. Scene 6. Background for the Euphoria on a Sausalito Stairway

8. Scene 7. Background for the Transmutation of Detectives on the Trail of a Culprit

9. Scene 8. Background for the Apotheosis of a Court in its Own Contempt

10. Scene 9. Background for a Political Soul Lost Among the Voteless Women of Paradise

11. Scene 10. Background for the Demonic Descent of the Cognoscenti While Shouting Over Cocktails

12. Epilogue

 

216' total duration

 

 

ENCLOSURE FIVE: HARRY PARTCH

 

 

"Basic mutilations of ancient concepts... The ancient Greeks would never have stood for it..."  Harry Partch's regard for ancient Greece permeated his whole life and work: i.e., Greek-influenced musical instrument design, dramatic ideals (where all art forms unite to serve the drama), tuning theories, and anti-Puritan "wild immoralities" all are central to the Partch canon.  As other musical eras in the west (such as the Renaissance and Baroque) had begun with a return to the Golden Age of Greece and Rome, so too the Partch epoch began with more than a casual gesture in that direction.  The works in Enclosure Five reflect his debt to that world and show how he transformed its legacy into something uniquely American.

 

In a 1962 radio interview with Studs Terkel, Partch stated: "I'm attracted to Greek mythology.  There's so much basic in it.  I can't work with trivial material (unless it's sarcastic or satirical)."  Quite why Partch should have found so much resonance in the myths and theories of ancient Greece is the topic for a larger study: his rejection of Christianity (both parents had been missionaries in China), discovery of the science of harmonics (and Just Intonation), belief in word declamation, solitary instincts, and peculiar parents probably all played a part.  Indeed it is often tempting to see his selection of Greek tales to set as being thinly veiled autobiography: his mother's apparent castration complex, his father's sphynx-like demeanor, Harry's own chosen role as an outsider who brings the truth to the great and unwashed, and his penchant for revelatory denouement, dropping the masks that keep the truth from view. 

 

King Oedipus, Ulysses, The Bewitched, and Revelation, written from 1951 to 1960, share several common aspects:  doomed and deluded characters, cursed by fate; dominatrices (Jocasta, Calypso [who appears by implication only to the cognoscenti], the Witch, and Mom-Agave, respectively); the elements of lyric tragedy (chorus, actors, and musicians); the theme of sight/vision (Oedipus's blindness, the all-seeing Witch, Pentheus killed for peeking), and the use of vernacular music (jazz, rock and roll, folk song).  Yet there are contrasts between the works: Partch’s Freudian interpretation of Oedipus centers on the problems caused by an unknown father, whereas Revelation focuses on the unrealized mother.

 

After Oedipus was first performed, Partch himself concluded that it created too strong a sense of classical antiquity, at the expense of contemporary relevance.  His succeeding compositions tried different tacks: Bewitched is entirely modern in setting; Revelation has equal parts ancient and modern; and Ulysses seems to delight in its very ambiguity.  They all share a belief that almost any ancient situation corresponds to some experience of contemporary America, no matter how bathetic or satirical the juxtaposition may be.  This parallelism is implicit in Oedipus, but explicit in the others, up to and including the 1966 Delusion of the Fury.

 

Partch’s use of language likewise evolves with each work during this period: Oedipus employs the worthiest literary language of the day (Yeats’s noble verse, eventually sublimated through music), Plectra and Percussion Dances (written immediately after Oedipus) uses nonsense rhymes and Rimbaud's French poetry (a mystery to those who do not speak French), Ulysses transfers the role of protagonist entirely to the instruments (an idea explored further in Water! Water!), Bewitched is pure gibberish, and Revelation is a mixture of eloquence and doggerel.  The wordless vocalise of By the Rivers of Babylon (the earliest work in this collection) prefigures the wordless choruses in Oedipus and shows Partch exploring the continuum between speech and music.  His increasing use of preverbal utterance can be seen as an expanding interest in primitive ritual and the implied evocation/suspension of time and place, where words are insufficient or superfluous. 

 

The period of these compositions falls in the middle of Partch's career and spans major changes in the scope of his work, from the earlier Speech-Music style of intimate poetic chanting to the later extravagant ritual stage works for large amateur casts.  It shows the transformation of his notion of Corporeality, from a simple respect for the idea of word-body to a grand synthesis in which all elements of the performance (narrative, sound, movement, lighting) are equally integrated and pressed into the service of the drama.

 

While Oedipus represents the culmination of his small text-settings, such as the Seventeen Lyrics of Li Po, By the Rivers, the Intrusions, Barstow, and U.S. Highball—all essentially small monophonic chamber works using subtle melodic intervals—it also points forward to Partch's next period.  Oedipus represents his first collaboration with another artist (Arch Lauterer), the first time his instruments were essential to the visual concept (originally Lauterer's idea), and the first time percussion instruments played a major role.  It was also the first of Partch's works to receive major public notice.

 

Partch had wanted to set William Butler Yeats's 1928 translation of Sophocles's King Oedipus since 1933.  A 1934 Carnegie grant sent him to meet with Yeats and actors from Dublin's Abbey Theatre, who intoned their lines as Partch noted the inflections.  The work was to be scored for Ptolemy (his first microtonal reed organ), viola, guitar, and double bass.  "It is in no sense opera.  The drama is paramount always — there is no attempt to reconcile it with musical form.  It is drama heightened throughout, and finally purged, by music."  Indeed after the first performance some eighteen years later, a critic remarked: "One went for the music, but came away with the play...  This is not a slam at Partch, but is rather an index of his success."  Those who judge Oedipus by the standards of later works (such as Delusion) will be disappointed; the music, as befits a former silent movie accompanist, is calculated to underpin the drama and only takes the forefront towards the end.  Rather, one might regard Oedipus in terms of an expansion of the potential heard in By the Rivers of Babylon.  For all his interest in pitch inflections, Partch never attempted to represent the meter of Greek verse.  This serves to remind us that it was never his intention to construct a historically accurate rendering of the ancient theatre.

 

Between 1933 and 1950 Partch had not been idle: he had written a major theoretical treatise, Genesis of a Music (University of Wisconsin Press, 1949), wandered as a hobo in the Depression, set those experiences to music, written for the WPA Writers' Project, built instruments, and lived in Big Sur, Chicago, New York, Madison, and Gualala.  His interest in Greek drama was still undimmed, though: his acquaintance Robinson Jeffers had asked him to write the music for the production of Jeffers’s Medea in 1947, but the star, Judith Anderson, objected at having to intone the lines.  When Partch eventually saw the production he remarked: "What did she do?  She intoned the whole play!"  1947 also was the year of Carl Orff's Die Bernauerin, which Partch admired but never saw, no doubt concurring with the Grove's Dictionary subsequent description: "The huge cast requires both actors and singers, and the latter together with the chorus are often used in the manner of the chorus in antique drama.  The most remarkable feature of this work is the unity between the music and the spoken word."

 

After the successful Mills College production of Oedipus in 1952, Partch wanted to release the recording of it on LP.  Although he had Yeats's written permission in a letter of 1934, by the time of the recording Yeats was long dead and his agent refused to allow any of his poems to be set to music.  Partch had no choice but to attempt his own translation for the ensuing 1954 Sausalito production.  It was this version that was released as a Harry Partch Trust Fund recording, the Mills tape lying dormant until the text fell into the public domain.  The experience of writing his own libretto, however, gave him the confidence to do so for all his remaining works.

 

Partch often remarked at his incredible good fortune at meeting Allan Louw, who played Oedipus in both the Mills and Sausalito productions.  Louw recalls: "Prior to the Mills performances, I had never even heard of Harry Partch.  I don't remember who contacted me concerning it.  After meeting with Harry, he showed me the manuscript for Oedipus.  I'd never seen anything like it in all my life, but oddly enuf, it made instant sense to me.  I was, of course, familiar with the speaking style of Pelleas et Melisande, which I love, and that grunting, squealing, howling abomination Pierrot Lunaire, but this, to me, was for real.  Somehow, I knew exactly what he wanted.  I take no credit for this; it just happened" (letter to Philip Blackburn, 9.20.97).  Rudolphine Radil took the part of Jocasta at short notice when Odetta had to withdraw (had Odetta been able to perform, she would have been the first black woman to take a leading operatic role on the American stage).  Radil was a formidable talent who had known Mahler, Schoenberg, and Cowell, and performed in Partch's first public concerts in 1931.

 

After spending so much time pondering King Oedipus, Partch followed the Greek practice of capping a tragedy with a light-hearted satyr-play.  His Plectra and Percussion Dances (1949-53) found the humor that had been noticeably absent in Oedipus, and the subsequent recording met with great success, especially in the Bay Area.  These were the days of the emergence of Cool Jazz, and Partch had occasion to meet such figures as Chet Baker, Shorty Rogers, Stan Kenton, Shelley Manne, and later Gil Evans.  Just prior to leaving for Illinois, Partch wrote Ulysses in the hope that his friend Bill Loughborough could play it with Chet Baker.  In the end, neither Baker, Gerry Mulligan (sax), nor Benny Goodman (clarinet) were able to work Ulysses into their schedules, despite arrangements for each of their instruments.  Partch wrote it with Baker's trumpet licks in mind and Jack Logan’s is the only recording of it with trumpet solo (although the original combination was for trumpet, string bass, and boobams — Bill Loughborough's equal-tempered bamboo marimba).

 

The story of Ulysses (the Latin name for Odysseus) may have had contemporary relevance to Partch not so much because they had both called Ithaca home (Partch had lived in Ithaca, New York in 1943!), but because they were both wanderers.  Odysseus's return from Troy took 10 years and was beset by perils and misfortune, including shipwreck on the island of the nymph Calypso, who made him her lover and refused to let him leave for 7 years.  Partch himself had lived on the road for 12 years, on and off, and was also fascinated by self-assured women: his own mother, who without warning had him circumcised at the age of 8; Jocasta, who married her son Oedipus; Agave, who killed her son Pentheus; and Mom's hysterical mob who worshipped Hollywood idols (in Revelation).  Despite the associations aroused by its title, though, Ulysses can hardly be considered in the same group as the other dramas of this period.  Perhaps it is little more than the “minor adventure in rhythm” that Partch it.

 

As indicated by the title, Ulysses Departs From the Edge of the World, it is not the heroic purpose of Ulysses's outward journey (the Trojan War, for example) that Partch focuses on, but rather his mundane attempt to return home — no doubt more akin to Partch's own unheroic wanderings, or those of the protagonist in U.S. Highball.  Homer gives scant indication as to whether Ulysses had been arrested before; Partch himself had been, at least a dozen times, on charges of vagrancy, but was always let out of jail the following morning.

 

Ulysses reserves its punchline for the end, causing the listener to reinterpret the music that went before.  Many of Partch's other works use the classic notion of denouement in different ways: that of Oedipus is predicted from the outset, as in any tragedy; Even Wild Horses from the Plectra and Percussion Dances uses Rimbaud's poetry at the end of the movements in the manner of Debussy's piano works which have their titles at the end; Ring Around the Moon, from the same set, has the zany tagline: "Look out! He's got a gun!"; The Bewitched is a linear succession of ten denouements, one for each scene; and Revelation has convergent moments of truth at its conclusion.  The search for truth is a common thread throughout Partch's life, and we might ponder the extent to which he ever thought of himself as witch or missionary.

 

But it may be the Greek authors themselves who most closely resemble Harry Partch, the courageous and iconoclastic composer.  Revelation has psychological parallels with The Bacchae of Euripides, where the mother is forced into a situation where she destroys her son.  As Partch noted in a 1964 lecture: "The Bacchae is, in my opinion, an extraordinarily courageous piece of writing by Euripides, and I think this was true at the time he wrote it, even though he was probably in exile.  He saw a human situation honestly, and he honestly endeavored to find perception for human society through it.  And I am beguiled by honesty."

 

- Philip Blackburn

July, 1998

ENCLOSURE FIVE; HARRY PARTCH

 

CD LINER NOTES (draft 7.15.98)

 

DISC A

 

1

Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World (A Minor Adventure in Rhythm)

 

Diamond Marimba - Danlee Mitchell; Bamboo Marimba and Cloud Chamber Bowls - John Grimes; Bass Marimba and Cloud Chamber Bowls - Linda Schell Pluth; Baritone Saxophone and Speaker - Larry Livingston; Trumpet - Jack Logan. 

 

Arranged by Jack Logan.  Recorded 1971 by Jack Williams/Custom Fidelity Company and originally released on Orion Records (ORS 7294).

 

            Ulysses was written in the summer of 1955 when I was living in Sausalito, California, at the suggestion of Bill Loughborough, a fellow resident and musical instrument builder.  Bill was a friend of Chet Baker, the jazz trumpet player, and asked me to write a piece for him.  Baker liked the idea but did not perform the piece due to his busy schedule of performances and my subsequent departure for Illinois a few months later.

            In Ulysses I used my newly completed bamboo marimba (boo) for the first time, having finished it in the Spring.  I was so satisfied with this instrument that I immediately incorporated it into my rewriting of The Bewitched.  Ulysses is not a music theater piece in the sense of Oedipus, The Bewitched, or Revelation in the Courthouse Park, but is a small chamber work.  At the time I was writing it the feeling of my hobo years was strong.  As a wanderer myself (like Ulysses) I had often been asked the question, "Have you ever been arrested before?" and it struck me as very humorous to be able to ask another wanderer the same question.  [Sleeve notes to Orion recording by Harry Partch.]

 

Revelation in the Courthouse Park (as excerpted by Partch)

After The Bacchae of Euripides

 

[Notes by Partch from the sleeve to his Gate 5 Records, Issue F.]

 

Written under a grant from the Research Board of the Graduate College.  Performed as part of the Festival of Contemporary Arts, University of Illinois, April 11, 1961, by the "Gate 5 Ensemble" of the University.

 

Producer - Barnard Hewitt; Conductor - John Garvey; Designer and technical supervisor - George Talbot; Choreographer - Jean Cutler; Lighting director - Keith Page; Stage manager - Jack McKenzie.

 

Cast:

Sonny, young man in the park/Pentheus, young king of Thebes - Jeffrey Foote.

Mom, leader of the local Ishbu Kubu and mother of Sonny/Agave, leader of the Theban Bacchae and mother of Pentheus - Freda Pierce.

Dion, Hollywood king of Ishbu Kubu/Dionysus, ancient god of the Bacchae - John Bert.

Korypheus, spokeswoman for the Chorus of Women - Elizabeth Hiller.

Cadmus, grandfather of Pentheus - Coryl Crandall.

Herdsman - Joel Klein.

Chorus of Women, Chorus of Men, Drum Majorettes, Brass band, Clog Dancers, Tumblers, Guitarists, and other instrumentalists.

Pre-recorded tape is occasionally part of the musical score.

 

This work draws a contemporary psychological parallel to the tragedy of The Bacchae.  It begins in a courthouse park, shifts to ancient Thebes, and thereafter alternates  between the two.  Visually, the courthouse park is distinguished by a fountain, with a small boy holding an umbrella over a small girl.  Simulated water spouts gently over the umbrella.  Visually, the ancient scenes are distinguished by the use of masks, which are spotted high above the stage, for the three main characters.  They slowly descend, and are attached when they reach head level.

 

TIME — Choruses: Present.  Scenes: Ancient

PLACE — Choruses: Before the courthouse in the park.  Scenes: Before the palace in ancient Thebes.

 

2

Chorus One, in full.  Sonny is seen dozing on the Courthouse steps, as music begins and lights come up.  He hears female voices offstage and runs to a tree, which he climbs.  His mother and other female admirers of Dion enter.  A brass band, heard at the back of the theater, marches through the audience and onto the stage.  Behind the band are Dion and the women who have followed him from Hollywood.  Mom greets them, and the various rituals of welcome begin.  They are all danced, to some degree, and are continuous.

 

3

Chorus Three, in part, beginning with Ishbu Kubu and continuing almost to the end.  The band is heard in a fanfare as it enters.  It is followed by Dion, Mom and the Chorus of Women, who immediately launch into the theme ritual — Ishbu Kubu.  This leads into the mat tumbling sequence and — with the repetition of "Heavenly Daze" — to the trampoline.  On the first beat of the [Marimba] Eroica the trampolinist rises high above the heads of the celebrators.

 

4

From Scene One: Hymn to Dionysus: Holy Joy and Get Religion

 

5

From Scene Two: Hymn to Dionysus: What the Majority Believes

 

6

From Scene Two: Hymn to Dionysus: Glory to the Male Womb

 

7

The end of Scene Three and all of Chorus Four.  This section begins after Dionysus has persuaded Pentheus to wear women's clothes.  Dionysus' manner is smooth and superficially comforting, but his meaning is deadly.  On his line, "Agave, I bring you your son!", Mom appears upstage, and the fountain is moved on.  The Fourth Chorus, in which Mom has a prophetic vision of her son's destruction, follows.

 

8

The end of Scene Four and the Coda.  Agave enters triumphantly — to the horror of Korypheus — with the mask (symbolizing the head) of Pentheus.  Cadmus, Agave's father, enters, and by the end of the scene has brought her to recognize the head she holds.   The first rays of the morning light strike across the courthouse park, immediately after Agave's agonized "No——!"  On the first crash of sound — the Coda — she drops Pentheus' mask.  On the second crash she drops her own, beside that of the son.  She then moves backward, slowly, downstage.  Dion enters and stands immobile beside the fountain.

 

Recorded by James L. Campbell on an Ampex 354.

 

9

Introduction to King Oedipus

Partch's spoken introduction to a radio broadcast of the 1954 Harry Partch Trust Fund recording of King Oedipus, on KPFA-FM (Berkeley), July 16, 1954.

 

10-???

King Oedipus

Lisser Hall, Mills College, Oakland, California, March 14-16, 1952.  Sophocles's King Oedipus, based on the version by William Butler Yeats.  Stage director and designer - Arch Lauterer.  Composer and musical director - Harry Partch.

 

Cast:

Oedipus, King of Thebes - Allan Louw; Priest - Ian Zellick; Chorus Spokesman - William Derrell Bond; Creon, Brother-in-law of Oedipus - Robert Hood; Tiresias, A Seer - Bruce Cook; Jocasta, Wife of Oedipus - Rudolphine Radil; Messenger - Gregory Millar; Herdsman - Bruce Cook; Second Messenger - Ian Zellick; Antigone - Elvena Green; Ismene - Margaret Calhoun; Attendants - Ian Zellick, Allison Berry, James Allen Leland, Flora Lynn Kirschner; Singing Chorus - Ann Arness, Gina Brown, Gertrude Feather, Peggy Parlour, B.J. Ross, Jean Sundstrom, Berniece Fredrickson; Dance Chorus - Joan Dubrow, Judith Hodge, Patricia Cooper, Emily Platt, Patricia Hagglund; Suppliants - Jeanne White, Pat Christopher, Natalie Samper.

 

Instruments:

Marimba Eroica - Jane Van Rysselberghe; Bass Marimba - Darlene Mahnke; Kithara - Barbara Browning; Harmonic Canon - Ute Miessner; Chromelodeon Sub-bass - Patricia Carey; Chromelodeon - Angela Thorpe, Nancy Wiebenson; Diamond Marimba - Sheila Bates; Cloud-Chamber Bowls - Elizabeth Brunswick, Jackie Fox; Microtonal String Bass - Dante Zaro; Microtonal Cello - Ellen Ohdner; Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone - George Probert; Adapted Guitars - Marjorie Sweazey, Harry Partch.

 

Scene: Thebes, before the palace of Oedipus

 

COMPOSER'S STATEMENT OF INTENTION [from the program notes, 1952]:

            I became interested in the Yeats version of the Sophocles Oedipus in 1933, and immediately produced a rough musical plan for the work.  This I took to Yeats in Dublin, in 1934, between research on unusual musical instruments in England.  Yeats' interest was easily won.  In numerous writings over a period of years he had expounded, and hoped for, a union of words and music in which "no word shall have an intonation or an accentuation it could not have in passionate speech."  Lack of the tonal means that seemed to be necessary to the mood, character, and length of the Sophocles tragedy caused seemingly endless postponements in the fulfilling of the rough dynamic sketch.  The day came in the spring of 1951—seventeen years after my consultations with Yeats and twelve years after the poet's death.

            The composition of the music for King Oedipus was begun in March and finished in July.  In July, also, I moved my instruments into Lisser Hall.  Arch Lauterer, Professor of Speech and Drama at Mills College, had agreed to include this production in the year's program.  Soon after the opening of the fall semester I began training Mills students to play the instruments and to read my musical notation.  Others, outside the college, volunteered to play their own instruments in unusual ways, and professional singers undertook to adapt their talents to a new manner of word delivery.  Rehearsals for King Oedipus started in October.

            I have not consciously linked the ancient Greece of Sophocles and this conception of his drama—twenty-four hundred years later.  The work is presented as a human value, necessarily pinned to a time and place, necessarily involving the oracular gods and Greek proper and place names, but, nevertheless, not necessarily Greek.  So viewed, the question as to whether the present work is consonant with what is generally taken to be the "Greek spirit" is somewhat irrelevant.  Yet, from the standpoint of dramatic technique, it is a historical fact that the Greeks used some kind of "tone declamation" in their dramatic works, and that it was common practice among them to present language, music, and dance as a dramatic unity.  In this conception of King Oedipus I am striving for such a synthesis, not because it might lead me to the "Greek spirit," but because I believe in it.

            The music is conceived as emotional saturation, or transcendence, that it is the particular province of dramatic music to achieve.  My idea has been to present the drama as expressed by language, not to obscure it, either by operatic aria or symphonic instrumentation.  Hence, in critical dialogue, music enters almost insidiously, as tensions enter.  The words of the players continue as before, spoken, not sung, but are a harmonic part of the music.  In these settings the inflected words are little or no different from ordinary speech, except as emotional tensions make them different.  Assertive words and assertive music do not collide.  Tone of spoken word and tone of instrument are intended to combine in a compact emotional or dramatic expression, each providing its singular ingredient.  My intention is to bring human drama, made of words, movement, and music, to a level that a mind with average capacity for sensitivity and logic can understand and therefore evaluate.

 

Johann Philipp Krieger (1649-1725): Menuet from the Partita in G

Harmonic Canon and Kithara - Harry Partch and Ben Johnston.  Recorded by Harry Lindgren, Gualala, California, 1950.  The recording sessions for the Intrusions at Partch's remote cabin were conducted with 'a portable generator and a high level of emotional instability'.  In a letter to his colleague Larry Marshall, Partch praised Ben Johnston's part in the proceedings, adding: "The Menuet by Krieger on the Harmonic Canon was his idea, but it was made at 11:59 by the clock...  Wouldn't it be laughable if this were the only thing people liked...  The interest in pre-Bach German Baroque music is wide and deep."  The Menuet was included at the end of the instrument-demonstration section of the Intrusions records, issued as five 78s in 1951.

 

Come Away, Death

Voice - George Bishop.  This is a mystery item.  It was found in the same set of acetate discs Partch recorded in Chicago, 1941-2, and features the same tenor, George Bishop, who performed a number of his compositions at that time.  The text, from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is the same as that of the first piece in December, 1942 (a set of three long-lost works for voice and Adapted Guitar, presumably composed shortly after this version).  Apart from sharing tonal centers, the two versions have little in common.  Perhaps this first was a spontaneous creation to which Partch planned to add a live accompaniment (as he was to do for I am very happy to tell you about this, Madison, 1945), but, if so, the vocal style is more akin to theatrical notions of folksong than to naturally-inflected speech.  Perhaps it merely serves to demonstrate a path Partch chose not to take.

 

Come Away, Death from December, 1942

Voice - Vincent Bouchot; Adapted Guitar - Didier Aschour.  This collection of three pieces was probably never performed during Partch's lifetime and the score was thought lost until it was rediscovered in a microfilm copy made by Partch's friend and 1950 Guggenheim Fellowship partner, Lauriston Marshall.  This first piece is arguably the most developed of the three, and is dedicated in the score to Partch's New York artist friend, Clara Shanafelt. 

 

The recording was made in 1997 by French artists, Vincent Bouchot, a vocalist with the Ensemble Clement Janequin and specialist in the works of Henri Pousseur, and Didier Aschour, a guitarist who teaches at the Paris Conservatoire and runs an on-line journal of microtonal music, micromégas (http://w3.teaser.fr/~daschour/micro.html).

 

By the Rivers of Babylon (137th Psalm)

1931, revised 1955.

Voice - Nina Cutler; Chromelodeon - Evelyn Garvey; Kithara - Lyndel Davis; Adapted Viola - Harry Partch; Conductor - John Garvey.

Recorded in 1961 at the University of Illinois and first released on Gate 5 Records, Issue A (1962): Thirty Years of Lyrical and Dramatic Music.

 

This work is a revised version of the piece that Partch played for W.B. Yeats in Dublin, accompanying himself on the Adapted Viola.  The text, with its line, How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? has been set many times throughout musical history as an exiled artist’s lament.  A earlier recording appears on Enclosure Two (innova 401).

 

Introduction to The Bewitched

Partch's spoken introduction to a radio broadcast of the 1957 recording of The Bewitched, on WNYC (New York), April, 1959.

 

The Bewitched (A Ballet Satire)

Kenneth Gaburo - director; Lou Blankenburg - choreographer/associate director; Danlee Mitchell - musical director.  Isabella Tercero - The Witch.  Peter Hamlin - Adapted Koto; Phil Keeney - Spoils of War; Cris Forster - Marimba Eroica; Randy Hoffman - Cloud Chamber Bowls; Francis Thumm - Chromelodeon I; Jon Szanto - New Boo I; Dan Maureen - Bass Clarinet; Donna Caruso - Piccolo and flute; Robert Paredes - Clarinet; David Dunn - Adapted Viola; Robin Gillette and Anita Mitchell - Kithara II; Ron Caruso - Diamond Marimba; Gary Irvine - Bass Marimba; David Savage and Paul William Simons - Harmonic Canon II; Ron Engel - Surrogate Kithara.

Recorded in live performance, Cologne, Germany, 1980, by Westdeutscher Rundfunk.  Released courtesy of Dr. Wolfgang Becker.

 

Director’s statement:

            Regarding Partch's BEWITCHED:  There was no need to invent the features of this current production.  All of the evidence necessary for its presentation is in the score, in the instruments, in Partch's attending documents, in the human performers who address each instrument and movement uniquely.

            BEWITCHED is not a compositional creation of mine.  I would not, indeed could not, approach it as-if it were.  Contrarily, as a director, it has always been my preference to persistently ask what a work needs by its own evidence; at least to be a sensitive translator; at least to analyze, infer, observe, seek, draw-out the evidence which would form that production, and then to etch, heighten, connect, fine-tune it.  I am against interpretation.

            During the more than six months of its preparation, BEWITCHED has taken shape by collective and extraordinary human effort.  This unfolding has brought to the stage a multi-dimensional, intrinsic piece of theater.  Here, Partch's drama, however it resides and manifests itself, is at once literal and metaphoric.  Here, the parts and details of the work's structure are no longer separable.  Here, 'melodic line', 'dancing', 'light', and 'set' have become transformed into a connect, interactive whole; an expressive motion at once acoustical, physical, visual, and above all: sensual

            I should say this: this is what the work is and does to me.  However, since meaning takes place in the mind of each of us, uniquely, I am unable to say anything about other 'meanings'.

  Kenneth Gaburo, 11.5.79

 

Kenneth Gaburo’s production, prepared for the Partch Ensemble's first foreign tour, to Berlin and Cologne, was one of the most remarkable in the whole history of Partch's performances.  It pushed many of his concepts (particularly Corporeality) beyond the levels which Partch himself had been able to achieve and, in the process, challenged the notion of authenticity.  The metaphor of The Bewitched, with its Chorus of Lost Musicians, was extended into the players' lives over the course of six months of intensive, unorthodox rehearsals and exercises.  The performance was unconducted, occasionally in the dark, and hence a collective consciousness was a prerequisite—not only a metaphor for the work but also a necessity in performing it.  The choreography, by Lou Blankenburg, likewise was calculated to produce an energy that could not be faked; it included a live basketball game on stage, with the instruments skirting disaster at any moment.  The dancers were never still, even when not seen by the audience, so on-stage and off- became one.  As Partch noted in 1959: “The instruments would not be crowded into a restricted space but disposed architecturally and landscapically, so that the dancers would be in, around, among them (and might even use them), occasionally.”

 

Bob Paredes, the clarinetist, recalls:

 

At the first meeting, instead of asking me to play, Kenneth requested that I, first, lie down on the floor and then get up, as slowly as possible.  I became rather pointedly aware that I hadn't thought very much about the expressive use of my body, except as such a notion might apply to the activation of a reed or the pre-choiced wiggling of fingers.  Next was a request that I play selected passages from the score but, while doing so, also trace, or describe it, with my instrument: making arcs, peaks and troughs of physical gesture.  In order to develop a collective energy we began each rehearsal by laying supine for an hour doing visualization and "colored breathing" exercises, and practiced slow walking meditation.

 

Kenneth observed each of us closely and assigned us a specific role or persona, the casting off of which might constitute another level of unwitching, or psychological striptease, during performance.  Some characters were oblique, some distressingly close to the bone; I was the New Year's Baby, others were Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Pinocchio, Tarzan and Gypsy Rose Lee.  Despite the interpersonal tensions this caused among some of the veteran ensemble players, I began to realize that Kenneth's intention was to rescue the ideas of "Corporeality" and "unwitching" from the category of easily dismissable metaphor by making them "real."  I now understood Corporeality as the underlying fundamental basis informing all of The Bewitched’s palpable emanations, that the music was an extension of voice—as if Partch was willing wood to sing, and the tuning system was a call to arms on behalf of the more important issue of voice, as the body's primary sound.

 

Prologue.  The hall is dark.  "Lost musicians" are wandering through the audience, singly or in pairs.  None has instruments, but a few hold objects or parcels.  They are dressed in topcoats, suggestive of bitter cold.  All carry flashlights whose beams cross to form an ephemeral architecture and reveal vague outlines and objects.  One musician discovers a resonant object and is drawn into playing it, followed by others, each drawn into releasing a distinctive sonic energy into the mix.  This sound grows by accretion: spruce and bamboo and pernambuco, wire and metal and glass, one upon another, culminating with voices of wind and bowed strings.  This composite entity simmers and boils to such a furious peak that it conjures a final figure into the space.  It is not clear whether they, in their loneliness and dispossession, have willed her—or she, them, in her infinite wisdom.

 

I remember that Kenneth could never get Scene Two, with its academic two-part exercises in harmony and counterpoint, to be dreary enough.  Until one day he said, "It's like when Jack Benny used to do this," and he placed his right hand under the left armpit, brought his left hand up and over his chin and right cheek, and then executed a painfully slow 180-degree headturn, with the deadest of deadpan expressions, "doing dull."

 

The final scene had David Dunn and myself standing in front of the Spoils of War.  The scene begins with a gathering of those "in the know" who find their pretentious ribaldry significantly undone by the Witch's corrective gate-crashing, and the music gains in intensity and the stage becomes a welter of sound and movement, with the entire cast of singers and dancers engaged.  On the last night in San Diego, as the moment of climax neared, I saw Phil Keeney take a swipe at the Spoil's Cloud Chamber Bowl, only to have it shatter on impact.  We kept playing.  Pieces of glass showered the stage, posing an immediate threat to the barefoot dancers.  David Savage produced a broom and began sweeping up the glass, as if he were just another part of the action.  When the work was done, David Dunn and I looked at the floor between us and saw a large jagged shard of the Spoil's supernova.  A few inches this way or that, and who knows?  Perhaps the Witch found time in her busy round of eradicating chimera to play guardian angel.

 

Several versions of Partch’s scenario exist for The Bewitched, and were used at various times as program notes, recording liner notes, and for gaining the interest of prospective sponsors.  The version below, containing specific production details, is taken from the full score (Gate 5, December, 1955) and may be compared with the other published versions.  The connection between the music and the stage action is especially important here, since as Partch wrote in 1957: “The dramatic and narrative time values in The Bewitched are more carefully and deliberately calculated than any piece of music I ever wrote.”  The titles are taken from the earliest of the scenarios.

 

Prologue

 

            Half-dark stage.  Bass Marimbist enters, stands and watches Eroicist before starting to play.  Booist enters and watches Bass Marimbist.  Bowls player enters.  Diamond Marimbist enters.  Surrogate Kitharist enters.  Castor and Pollux enter together.  The mood is catching.  The group begins to swing.  The two Kitharists enter.  Two clarinetists enter with their instruments.  The quality of group power begins to manifest itself.  Piccolo player enters.  In unison, since the group has now achieved a oneness of purpose, they decide to try something real tricky! 

            They liked the quality of power that they achieved before, so they repeat—with variations, of course.  In getting with it, sections take choruses.  This chorus belongs to percussion—the strings just push it along.  Koto player enters.  That does it!  This is a stamp of unanimous satisfaction.  This chorus belongs to the woodwinds, aided and abetted by a Harmonic Canon that dreams it has become a vina.  The cellist, carrying his instrument, and the Chromelodeonist enter together.  This chorus belongs to Castor and Pollux, and a Boo that just can't help itself (introduced by a stamp!).  The group is now complete and the stage is set for magic.  They all know, by now, that this is a night for new experience, and they plunge headlong—with abandon. 

            The spirit of the ancient Witch begins to make known her presence.  She appears here as a dark shadow—a silhouette—and moves about, long before her voice is heard.  Orchestral preparation for the Witch's vocal entry.  That the Witch will speak now becomes certain.  She does!  The Witch conducts.  The Witch has already achieved an unheard-of thing—she has made an orchestra use its voices and sing, because of sheer joy in musical power.  She demonstrates her power over the orchestra in electric changes of mood.  The Witch has established herself as the collective will of these lost musicians. And so—they—she—it—ponder(s), deeply!——deeply!

            Again she conducts, driving the orchestra into a steady off-beat.  The Witch's Chorus (the orchestra) now begins to see the possibilities.  A new light is seen through the chinks of their deep pondering.  She brings this little interlude to an end, invokes her powers of perception, surveys the world and immediately becomes sad and moody, as who wouldn't?

            The Witch now sets the stage for the scenes that follow, in which she commands that wonderful power to invoke perception in others, and especially self-perception: the power to UN-witch!  We are now about to see the first UN-witching in history effected by lost musicians.  Dark stage.  As lights brighten on the first scene, the Witch appears as a dark silhouette, seated on a side throne, front.

 

Scene One. Background for the Transfiguration of American Undergrads in a Hong Kong Music Hall

 

            The orchestra, knowing that the Undergrads will appear, decides to introduce them with a percussion flourish.  The orchestra eagerly awaits this scene on the come-uppance of youth.  The Undergrads enter, obviously bewildered by anything strange and are arrested by percussion.  Again they are arrested, but recover quickly.  They begin to liquefy with the music, mimicking Chinese female dancers.  They decline to be arrested this time.  This is show-off time for the first boy.  This line belongs to the girl, a leggy solo.  The boys join in, all three get carried away by their own farce. 

            The orchestra knows that the Witch is simply waiting for the right psychological moment, but decides to hurry it up.  Now!  The Canons and Kithara have had enough nonsense.  The Witch begins to rise, slowly, unconscionably slowly!  She should not reach her full height till this beat—35 slow beats for rising to a stand.  Stamps that reduce the three Undergrads to less than the dust.  The Witch sits—7 slow beats.  The Undergrads are now permanently transfigured.  The East no longer holds more mystery than it ought.  The unwitching is complete.

 

Scene Two. Background for the Permutation of Exercises in Harmony and Counterpoint

 

            The first couple enters—does a very proper, stylized dance.  The orchestra casts a shadow and they stop.  The second couple enters, trying very hard to be proper, and not too conspicuous.  First couple resumes.  Again, a shadow.  The second couple resumes.  The shadow of unwitchment lengthens.  Unwitching shadow!  Let's vary it with counterpoint—first couple.  Let's—second couple.  (Shadow) First couple.  (Shadow) second couple.

            The court of ancient ritual begins to grind its ancient wheels—to the bewilderment of the two couples, who now have a worry more imminent then their degree of "correctness."  Just a mild warning from the Witch.  She is always heard, and never seen, by the subjects she has chosen to unwitch.  Maybe it's all a bad dream! — First couple.  This is the moment!  The two women fly to the protective arms of the two men, and thus the four become paralyzed into two units of flesh.  The unwitching potion begins to drain.  The unwitched and consummated couples now do a dance at the Dawn of Time—(and with the 18th century scarcely even discernible in the dim, dim future).

            The orchestra now prepares its mind for a scene of pathos in slapstick.

 

Scene Three. Background for the Inspired Romancing of a Pathological Liar

 

            The Witch poignantly anticipates the ensuing trauma.  In unison, the Orchestra surveys the history of this boy and man.  Sad!  Sad!  He is a tragic character—predoomed.  The preparation for his entry.  The tragic hero backs in, dancing and is followed by the female object of his attack, who eyes him indifferently.  He postures—in the strange positions of gods in Hindu temples.  The pathological liar goes into his act.  He is a tremendous show-off.  He is tricky.  He turns cartwheels—he tumbles.  He mistakes the pursuit of Fate for encouragement by Fate.  He is even more tricky.  More tumbly.  Fate breathes down his neck.  But he can't hear anything so subtle.  He brings his dance to an end at a furious pace.  Now a tricky pianissimo.

            The Witch knows that only a woman can unwitch this character, and provokes the lady-love to action.  She dashes about with vigor and determination.  The Witch drives her Chorus into the final unwitching effort.  Lady-love is now completely transformed.  She struts, brags, postures—outdoing her man in every department of aggressive behavior.  She is predatory.  His romance goes into her act.  She is also tricky.  He runs wildly up a seemingly endless flight of stairs—she in hot pursuit.  Darkness.

 

Scene Four. Background for the Alchemy of a Soul Tormented by Contemporary Music

 

            The Witch and Chorus prepare for a scene of inner conflict.  The protagonist enters.  He dances in the disdainful style suitable to one who hides his torment even from himself.  The orchestra whistles dolefully over all this neurosis.  Still doleful.  And the tormented continues to dance his dance of tradition with stylistic disdain.

            A mild prognosis by the Witch.  And a sad little commentary by the orchestra, which knows that the neurosis will get worse before it gets better. 

            Now the tormented soul fights with himself in long, sweeping phrases.  He whirls, he salaams.  He creates a pattern, reverses it.  A quick, witch-powered, paralyzing movement, the unseen Witch arrests him in the middle of a salaam.  He looks but sees nothing, and again paralyzed.  Again he sees nothing, and again paralyzed.  The Chorus helps him out in the venting of his fury.  He goes somewhat to pieces—in the stylized manner appropriate to a traditionalist.

            The Witch and Chorus vigorously ponder the problem: namely, unwitch to what?  Unwitch in what form?  and conclude that the only therapy not contra-indicated in the case of a soul tormented by contemporary serious music is to be found in a whole-souled abandonment to slapstick comedy.  The protagonist finds self-perception.  He clowns, trilling on his white cane as though it were a flute.  (The final irony in the agony of his self-perception is of course the fact that he is himself a contemporary serious composer.)

            What a sad ending to a happy consummation!  But lost musicians especially know that gladness too-prolonged can get out of hand.  Darkness.

 

Scene Five. Background for the Visions of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room

 

            Lights brighten on five basketball players moving in a lugubrious dance, as a team.  (The team spirit is very evident!)  They feel like beaten women.  So—the dancers are beaten women.  In the 6/4-5/4 bars they do a slow march—in the 3/4 bars they rest, as though their spirits could not possibly sustain them through the memory of having left the basketball court as men.  Slow darkness descends.  The five women are transfixed through these two lines, as the Witch mixes magic.

            A vision of the god Hermes, in a basketball outfit with a number on his chest, appears at the top of the seemingly endless stairway.  He is unmoving.  Excitement among the women.  This is a wild dance of the five women in honor of Hermes.  He throws a basketball down to them and the consequence is a Bacchanalian frenzy.  One of the five claims the ball as her own, finally, and dashes off stage.  She is of course pursued by the others.  Hermes has vanished.

            Semi-darkness —on a stage empty of the Bewitched.  Lights brighten suddenly, with Hermes reappearing in the same spot as numbered quintuplets successively.  They descend the stairway with godlike irreverence, scattering over the scene with Hermean abandon—and showing a worthy team spirit.  The Witch has had enough.  Darkness again.  Spotlight top of staircase.  The first woman appears and tumbles wildly down into darkness [followed by the others].

            The orchestra is not sure what this scene means in so many words, but it is definitely sure of one thing: that it ought to be meaningful in the lives of boys and girls.  So there you are! says the stamp!  The basketball team—now unwitched—has fallen completely under the charming belief that reality contains a compound of both experience and imagination.

 

Scene Six. Background for the Euphoria on a Sausalito Stairway

 

            An adolescent girl enters followed by an adolescent boy, both in traditional ballet costumes.  They are rendered immobile by a Witch's theme.  Again they dance, soulfully, together.  Again the same Witch's theme.  Again they dance.  The orchestra conspires in producing the kind of a chord that paralyzes a subject in motion—only the girl!  She is now critically surveyed, mountains and valleys.  The chord that unfreezes her—again they dance more exuberantly.  He leaps, and lands, she glides, she lands in his arms.  Now things get really adolescent, the affair becomes extraordinarily athletic.  She glides again and lands again.

            The time has come, says the Witch—descending darkness.  Lights brighten—spot on central part of the stairway.  She takes three steps down.  The boy and girl, facing each other, move back and forth on the stairway in a way that suggests eternity.  He takes three steps up, she three up (backward), he three down (backward), she three down, he three up, etc.  Lights begin to fade.  With complete unwitching—Euphoria.  Darkness.

 

Scene Seven. Background for the Transmutation of Detectives on the Trail of a Culprit

 

            The first detective backs in, furtively, holding an open newspaper, which he is of course not reading.  He backs away again, on stage.  The second detective backs in a duplicate of the first.  The second backs away again.  Now they back away in unison.  They move swiftly about, never relaxing the open newspapers.

            The culprit races across stage and stops dead.  He makes one quick swing of hips, both newspapers fall.  The detectives jump nervously.  Unmasked (no newspapers), the detectives dance, with arms on each other's shoulders.  They kick like chorus girls on each 4th beat.  The culprit gets bored, swings his hips and the Chorus prods him with a whistle.  The culprit goes into his dance.  His dance is full of tumbles and tricks. 

            The detectives intervene.  They plead with the culprit to honor the memory of his dead mother.  It doesn't work.  Fie on you, they say, resuming their chorus-girl dance.  Again, a bored culprit, a conniving Chorus, and more anti-social tricks. 

            The melancholy slapstick draws to its melancholy end.  Unwitched the three dancers know now that they need each other in the same way that mothers need sons.  A little dance pledging eternal cooperation between detectives and culprits.  Which is chaser, and which is chased, is now completely unimportant.

 

Scene Eight. Background for the Apotheosis of a Court in its Own Contempt

 

            The Witch's mind wanders to the ancient Cahuilla Indians, in what is now the Southern California desert.  Here is an ancient court, to the drone of one of their ancient songs.  Throughout this ritual of opening the participants stand rigid—Your-Honor and the Witness on pedestals.  Your-Honor holds a large mallet.  The attorneys begin to wrangle.  The Harmonic Canon (Law) and Your-Honor are virtually a single entity.

            Questioning begins.  The witness' first answer is a lilting, sad story.  She is ruthlessly interrupted by Your-Honor.  Exception! shouts an attorney.  The Judge swings his mallet—Overruled!  He [the attorney] leaps backward.  Her second answer is flippant.  Again, she is cut short.  Exception!  The Judge swings his mallet—Overruled! Another leap backward.  Her third answer is indignant.  The judge swings his mallet twice, unheard of in a court of law.  Both attorneys leap backward, at the same time that Your-Honor takes a huge forward leap from his pedestal.  The witness usurps the judge's post—swings his mallet with matriarchal authority. 

            A triumphant and ritualistic march—Your-Honor moves alone, unwitched.  With shining eyes, he proceeds to his lonely apotheosis.  Darkness.  Society (the Witness) gazes down proudly.

 

Scene Nine. Background for a Political Soul Lost Among the Voteless Women of Paradise

 

            The mood in paradise is static—suspended somewhere between exquisite joy and exquisite melancholy.  Houris range in the background, immobilized by paradisian hypnosis as part of the set.  The two dancers enter.  The Political Soul is obviously lost and bewildered, and seems to resemble Death.  His partner is obviously a woman.  She dances with him in the strangest manner—back-to-back—mirroring his every movement.  That is, since she faces the back of the stage, her movements are exactly reversed. 

            The Witch inspires Pollux to a furious accelerando.  Descending darkness.  Death is about to be transformed.  As lights brighten, the woman, chief houri, now faces front, and she carries the countenance of Transfiguration.  Now, Death faces the back of the stage, and mirrors her movements—dancing back-to-back.  Now, also, the houris in the background begin to move—though their feet are planted firmly on the floor.

            Death and Transfiguration dance back-to-back, Death facing front.  Numerous unmoving houris in the dark background.  Dig! say the two Kitharists, and another transformation ensues.   The houris in the background now move with their feet also, and fall into the houriest of all houri dances.  A dance of aggressive sexuality.

            Unwitched, the Lost Political Soul finds himself contentedly at home among constituents who have never voted.  Descending darkness.

 

Scene Ten. Background for the Demonic Descent of the Cognoscenti While Shouting Over Cocktails

 

            Continued semi-darkness.  This—in a sense—is a final re-introduction of the Witch by her Orchestra for her final scene.  She responds in waltz time.  Lights brighten on the cognoscenti—whose party has long since passed the sweet-and-low stage.  The scene now tends to become a battle, between orchestra and cognoscenti (dancers).  The orchestra vigorously lights the way, but the cognoscenti decline it.  They never heard of it.  Ergo, it doesn't exist.  They dance wildly but only the orchestra has direction. 

            The Witch warms up vigorously, ponders the problem of unwitching such difficult subjects.  The cognoscenti consider this only a physical—not an intellectual challenge, and respond with even louder talk (wilder dancing).  Furthermore, we know good music when we hear it, they say, continuing to gyrate their hips in a loosely directed fashion.

            Since the cognoscenti are congenital recidivists, unwitching would effect no more than a momentary transformation—the Witch decides that they aren't worth the trouble of enlightenment and prepares to drive them into limbo.  She rises from her throne, steps off her platform, and—with eyes shut—gropes toward the center of the stage.  With long breast-strokes she parts the waves of dancers about her, and at front center lies flat on her back, perpendicular to the edge, with her head upside down to the audience and howls.  The Chorus says, Yea!

            At this climax, the Witch begins slowly to rise—reaching her full height—with arms pointing to heaven—here (coincident with shriek).  Again, the ritual of the ancient Cahuillas.  The dancers are intimidated at last, and shrink toward the exits, but the three aggressive late-comers are still recalcitrant, and stand their ground.  Except for the three incorrigibles, the cognoscenti have now been frightened into flight.

            This effort by the Witch and her Chorus is concentrated entirely on the three recalcitrants.  How extraordinary! says the first late-comer, as she is propelled into a backward flip by the violence of the Bah!  How extraordinary! says the second late-comer, as she is propelled into limbo by a chorus of dragons.  How extraordinary! says the third late-comer, doing an unintentional somersault backwards.

            The stage is now empty of cognoscenti, but the power generated has too much momentum.  A homely little duet expressing satisfaction—the Witch and Chorus.  The only possible solution to a virtually impossible problem.  The Witch vanishes—Later! she says.  What the Witch has just said is, in effect: I really don't give a raspberry about all this nonsense.  Furthermore, it's time you children were in bed.  But the Orchestra can't unwind so fast.

 

Epilogue

 

            The magic dissipates with the beginning of this more casual music and ten musicians get up and wander off—the three winds, cello, Chromelodeon, the two Kitharists, two Canon players and Koto—leaving only the six percussion players and S. Kithara.  S. Kith. player leaves.  S. of W. player leaves.  D. Mar. player leaves.  Bowls player leaves.  Boo player leaves.  B. Mar. player leaves.  The lost musicians get lost again.  What else is there to do?  But they know that they will never again be lost in the same way.  The Eroica player walks away—leaving a darkening stage empty.  Curtain.

 

Further background on the works in Enclosure Five can be found in Enclosure Three (innova 402).

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This recording is funded in part by a grant from the Copland Fund Music Recording Program.

Remastering engineer: David Dunn

Graphic design: Philip Blackburn

Thanks to the following for their generous assistance:

Lou Blankenburg

Betty Freeman

Jack Logan

Allan Louw

Danlee Mitchell

Bob Paredes

Jon Szanto

Madeline Tourtelot

Kash Yamada

Photo credits:XXXXXXXXXXXX

 

 

Enclosures: Harry Partch

 

Shortly before his death, Partch remarked to a few friends that he, like his friend Anaïs Nin, considered his lifetime's work to be a kind of letter to the world.  His final composition would therefore be an enclosure, a completion of the message in the form of a piece of music for which he would build a new instrument and tune another reed organ in a Pythagorean Enharmonic mode.  Enclosures, this series of writings, sounds and visuals, is offered as a substitute: miscellaneous documents, odds and ends that add a 'P.S.' to the public letter by which Partch is known. 

 

Enclosure One (innova 400): four films by Madeline Tourtelot with music by Harry Partch: Rotate the Body, Music Studio, U.S. Highball, Windsong.  74', VHS/NTSC. 12-page booklet included.

 

Enclosure Two (innova 401): four-CD set of archival recordings of Speech-Music from the 1930s and '40s, including settings of Li Po, Partch’s hobo journal, Bitter Music, and a sound documentary.

 

Enclosure Three (innova 402): 500-page, limited-edition artbook, a bio-scrapbook of Partch's own documents: 300 photographs, correspondence (with Anaïs Nin, W.B. Yeats, Edmund Dulac, Alwin Nikolais, Martha Graham, Kenneth Anger, Lou Harrison, et al.).

 

Enclosure Four (innova 404): Videotape of two films: Delusion of the Fury (Madeline Tourtelot, 1971) and The Music of Harry Partch (KPBS-TV, San Diego, 1968).  105’, VHS/NTSC.  Booklet included.