PARTCH: Sonata Dementia (1950)

Harry Partch’s first extended abstract composition was initially called Tonality Flux, the term he used for his brand of microtonal modulation. Its completion had to await the construction of the Bass Marimba & the Hypobass, and by the time the…

PARTCH: Sonata Dementia (1950)

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Harry Partch’s first extended abstract composition was initially called Tonality Flux, the term he used for his brand of microtonal modulation. Its completion had to await the construction of the Bass Marimba & the Hypobass, and by the time the virtuosic “Mumbo-Jumbo…” vocal part had been added, it was renamed Sonata Dementia (1950), perhaps reflecting the psychological stress the composer felt in his isolation at Gualala. It was left unperformed until 1952 when added revisions were completed at Mills College, and it was presented as Ring Around The Moon. When recorded as such, the composer called it, “A satire on the world of singers and singing, music and dance; on concerts and concert audiences, where the occasional perception of an American word is an odd kind of shock. Also a satire on the world in general, on whimsy and caprice, on music in 43 tones to the octave, on people who conceive such things, on grand flourishes that lead to nothing, on satyrs, or on nothing.” L.A.’s PARTCH premiered the original version at REDCAT in 2006 as part of MicroFest.

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