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[AES Pacific NW Section - Seatle USA]
Around the Puget Sound, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

NOTE: anyone can attend this meeting regardless of their status as an AES member.
The Harry Partch Instrumentarium

Presented by
Charles Corey, Curator
The Pacific Northwest Section of the AES

Tuesday, May 30th 2017, 7:30pm
University of Washington
Meany - STUDIO Theater

Harry Partch (1901-1974) was an iconoclastic American composer and instrument inventor with a passion for integrating musicians, actors, and dancers in large-scale works of total-theater. He was "seduced into carpentry" by his interest in just intonation and his need to have an orchestra tuned to this system. The instruments are more than just producers of tone, however — each one has an evocative name and dramatic physical presence, and each one puts unique physical demands on the performer. In Partch's book, Genesis of a Music, he writes that the performer of the Marimba Eroica should at times "convey the vision of Ben Hur in his chariot," while a musician playing his Kithara must not "bend at the waist, like an amateur California prune picker," but instead should move with grace and athleticism in a "functional dance."

During his lifetime, Partch composed numerous works for his instruments. Some pieces are straightforward concert music, while others include components of film, dance, or theater. He made great use of the human voice in his music, requiring instrumentalists and singers alike to 'intone' spoken words on precise pitches. His compositions dealt with subjects ranging from ancient Greek mythology and classic drama to his own life experiences as a hobo in 20th century America.

After Partch's death, his orchestra of over 50 unique instruments was left to his dedicated assistant, Danlee Mitchell. Danlee continued performances of Partch's works from his base at San Diego State University until 1990, when Dean Drummond, a former member of Partch's ensemble, became the curator of the instrumentarium. In 2013, Charles Corey, a member of Drummond's ensemble, was appointed curator, and has worked closely with Danlee Mitchell to continue the legacy of Harry Partch.

More info:

Seattle Times article and media Strange musical creations #E433

Presenter's Bio

Charles Corey is an American composer holding degrees in Music Composition and Theory from the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D.) and Montclair State University (M.A., B.Mus.). Among his teachers are Robert Aldridge, Trevor Björklund, Patrick Burns, Dean Drummond, Eric Moe, Mathew Rosenblum and Amy Williams. His approach to composition exploits and subverts the relationships that exist between different tuning systems; the results of this process range from pieces that use standard tuning systems in unique ways to works that involve multiple tuning systems working in concert. His compositions are known for their unexpected, evocative harmonies and their strong dramatic arcs. His music has been played by a variety of performers including Cikada Ensemble, IonSound Project, Iktus Percussion, entelechron, and Relâche, and his writings have been published in several languages.

About Charles Corey (with more audio examples)


This event is in the UW Meany "Studio Theater," which is not the larger Meany Theater in the same building.

Both theaters are in Meany Hall, on the southwest corner of the UW's Central Plaza ("Red Square"). If entering above-ground, enter Meany Studio Theater by taking the outside stairs at the northeast corner of Meany Hall to the sunken courtyard.


The University of Washington Seattle campus is located about 3/4 mile east of I-5 on NE 45th St. Take exit 169 from I-5 north or south and turn eastbound on to NE 45th. Go 8 blocks to 15th NE. Turn right/south on 15th and look for the entrance to the underground garage at NE 41st street, on your left.

If you wish to park on campus above ground, go east 10 blocks on NE 45th to the campus entrance at 17th NE.

Eastsiders can take the SR520 exit for Montlake Blvd northbound, then after the Montlake Bridge turn left onto NE Pacific St, past UW Medical Center, then north on 15th NE.


Underground parking: The entrance to the UW Central Plaza Parking Garage is located at NE 41st Street and 15th Avenue NE, on the west side of campus (Gate 1). A $10 non-refundable flat rate is charged for evening events (4pm or after). Ask for directions inside the garage to park near the stairs to Meany Studio Theater.

Above-ground parking: Enter the UW campus at NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE, near the Burke Museum (Gate 2). Stop at the gatehouse to pay (the 4pm+ evening rate is $5) and to obtain directions to a lot, a parking permit and a campus map if desired.

Warning: campus parking is strictly enforced. Don't even think about parking somewhere not indicated on your permit, or risk a costly parking ticket.


For Meany Studio Theater, park on level C1 of the central underground garage on 15th NE and use the ramp to that theater's lobby.


The light rail station is at Husky Stadium, which is unfortunately on the opposite side of campus as Meany Hall. There is likely a bus that will get you across campus.

Dan Mortensen
AES PNW 2016-2017 Section Chair

n.b. The material presented at our meetings is the opinion of the presenter and not necessarily that of the Society. You are encouraged to conduct your own research and to form your own opinions before adopting the presented material as Truth.

Our meetings are open to anyone interested in Audio. AES membership is NOT required for you to attend our meetings.
Last modified 04/20/2017 22:46:47.